For all of the criticisms that you can level at Brendan Rodgers this year, his (and Liverpool’s) dealings in the transfer market are probably where you levy most of your criticism. It therefore seems somewhat contradictory to assert that Rodgers should be kept in charge until after the next transfer window, seeing as he’s likely to hinder the club further with his questionable outlays.
Ultimately, sacking Rodgers would be a mistake. His tenure is already beginning to mirror that of Arsene Wenger, in that both have become victims of their own success and both divide opinion quite strongly between their supporters and doubters.
His critics are becoming increasingly vocal. The ‘Rodgersoutclub’ twitter handle, a group which threatened and intended to fly a sign over Anfield last month, structures their argument primarily around his woeful performance in the transfer market. That, and his utter reliance on Luis Suarez. They tweeted, for example, on December 15- ‘Credit to Luis Suarez. The man conned the world into thinking Brendan Rodgers was a top manager’.
It’s the same old myopic, irrational and subjective conjecture that overlooks the huge array of factors that have contributed to Liverpool’s downfall this year.
First, Liverpool no longer have a director of football (usually the man tasked with dealing with signings) but a transfer committee, a product of Ian Ayre, operating CEO, to make the right decisions in the transfer market: ‘What we believe, and we continue to follow’ Ayre stated, ‘is you need many people involved in the process (of signing players).’ Rodgers, allegedly, has the final say on who is signed, but other than that, there probably is not a manager in the Premier League who has less de facto control over who their club signs.
Second, the losses of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have been crippling- more so than many comprehend. Their contribution of 50 goals last year fails to actually illustrate the breadth of influence they had in galvanising the team. It allowed Rodgers to play immense attacking football, developing Raheem Sterling and Coutinho in the process, masking their defensive inadequacies and allowing Steven Gerrard to play with a freedom that was seldom exposed. Losing both of them is the difference between the top four and mid-table.
They are over-riding factors, however, which detract from why he should be allowed to rectify his mistakes this January. Having guided Liverpool to second place last year, he has shown that he can build a team to a meteoric level; there are not many managers in the world who can genuinely prove that at this level. He should be allowed the opportunity to re-build.
He adheres to a philosophy of wonderfully creative attacking football- a ploy that made Liverpool one of the most exciting teams to watch in Premier League history last year. Every chairman in the world seeks that- it made the club’s brand stronger and more attractive. He also gives youth a chance, which in an age of quick-jolt like decisions takes a lot of bravery; he deserves more credit for the Sterling’s development into one of the most exciting players in world football. While you can criticise the imports that have failed to integrate at Liverpool, the gelling of many new players always takes time- Tottenham in their post Bale-slump show that. Many of them are younger than people realise; there’s an excess of raw talent waiting to be developed.
And Rodgers is the man to over-see those developments. Steven Gerrard’s endorsement that he’s the best man manager he has ever worked with is huge. Man management is arguably the most important attribute of any manager- and that statement categorises Rodgers in bracket above Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish, as well as Sven Goran-Eriksson and Fabio Capello. But he’s also a good coach- Jose Mourinho valued him highly when the two worked at Chelsea.
The day a manager loses his dressing room is the day he must be sacked. With no sign of that being the case, Rodgers has earned the right to guide Liverpool through this troublesome period. It was in January time two years ago that he acquired Sturridge and Coutinho- he should be allowed the opportunity to replicate that again.