Why rushing Rodgers at Liverpool can have long term consequences
Last week’s story linking Liverpool with Didier Drogba was nothing more than a story of quick fix, a short term papering over the cracks for some more short term gain. But Liverpool could be in danger of entering a repeating cycle if they go down the avenue of quick fix or, as the owners may be hoping for, some instant success.
It isn’t really news that this isn’t Brendan Rodgers’ squad. The manager says the project to turn the club’s fortunes around permanently will take two to three years, and that seems about right. During Chelsea’s domination of England with Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson and Manchester United also went through something of a transition period. Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were growing into two of the leading stars of the Premier League but there were also a number of questionable signings made during that period. It took three years to transform that group of players into champions again, and it wasn’t done via the avenue of quick fixes.
Rodgers said all he needed to about previous managers when he spoke about the wages Joe Cole was on. To put it plainly, the manager could care less if he was shipped back to Lille or anywhere else, he just clearly has no use for him. But what happens if the team do decide to persevere with players who are not to the manager’s liking? A player like Cole or even Drogba?
Rodgers may be mocked for his use of the term philosophy and how he intends to follow a set of notes gathered over many years, but he knows exactly what he wants from Liverpool, and that should be more than comforting.
There is evidence of success coming much quicker in England. Arsene Wenger’s first title in the Premier League came after his first full season with Arsenal, but anyone could see that was a title winning side built on the foundations of George Graham’s defensive line. At Liverpool, Rodgers doesn’t have equally strong and impressive foundations.
But Liverpool do not really need a trophy now, especially considering the owners have bought into the new manager’s philosophy and aim. There are undoubtedly areas in need of strengthening in January and next summer, but that shouldn’t force the club into purchases that aren’t really designed for the long term.
Stop-gap and quick-fix should be viewed as two different things. I suggested last week that a player like Antonio Di Natale would be a good addition to the club for the short term, but also that Drogba was not the answer. With Di Natale, Liverpool can continue to play this brand of football under Rodgers, the brand of football he wants as the staple at Anfield. All Di Natale brings are the qualities of a finisher, nothing more—although his experience would be hugely beneficial to the younger players in the team.
But the club cannot afford to go down a path of stop-start. Quick fixes will do nothing to heal the wounds of past regimes, instead they’ll act as disguises for the bigger picture. Bargain hunting may be the way forward for the immediate future, but there are plenty of bargains on the continent who would improve this Liverpool team. There are also a number of academy graduates that Rodgers is acknowledging as good enough options to fill out his squad. Why put their development on hold for the introduction of a player who doesn’t totally fit the manager’s philosophy?
Winning a trophy is not as easy as get up and go, and the American owners should know that well enough. Roy Hodgson was brought in to steady the ship, yet he was moved on quickly only for another manager to come in and further steady the ship, then clearly on it’s way down. Some may feel that Kenny Dalglish should have been given another year at the club, but perhaps he was there for a season too long. He was never in line to be a manager at the club for the long term, whereas Rodgers is and should be given that time. The new man in charge, however, is picking up the pieces of Dalglish’s time and Hodgson’s. If Rodgers does bring in another group of players over the next two transfer windows who are suited to his game, what happens if the owners don’t fancy him in charge anymore? A new manager with new ideas and the desire for different players come in. The cycle repeats.
Rodgers is already dealing with players he doesn’t want, so why force the issue of instant success and the need to buy another handful of players that aren’t really needed? It may be a case that Liverpool go the next two or three years without a trophy, but better that and a team who are good enough for the top four than small and almost insignificant successes to try and paint a better picture.