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Spotlight on Brendan: Liverpool Taking the Long Road Back To Glory, With the Right Man

By on February 27, 2013

With Liverpool currently under-performing, Tom Gatehouse looks at the man in the hot seat, Brendan Rogers; and discusses the reasons for the Reds’ current plight.

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‘Istanbul’ seems like a very long time ago. That enduring night eight years ago, the epitome of the victory for the immense underdog, immortalised Liverpool for all time; but it has now become a fond, but distant memory for many fans. Yet, that same ideal, that same underdog mentality, can be applied to the Reds’ current situation. Sat eighth in the table, out of all domestic and European competitions, Liverpool remain the underdogs, fighting desperately to return to the big boys’ table.

When Brendan Rogers took over in the summer of last year, there was a sense of optimism slowly perforating the minds of Liverpool fans everywhere. Here was a man, fresh from his heroics with Swansea, who could come in and reinvigorate the Reds’ expensive, poorly assembled squad, and have them playing effective, entertaining football, and return Liverpool to the glory days. But there was certainly work to be done.

‘King’ Kenny Dalglish put Liverpool back by about five years, it has to be said. His gung-ho attitude in the transfer market, namely his odd penchant for buying average British players at massively inflated prices, filled Liverpool’s rota with a plethora of substandard talent. And while many fans would have liked to see a metaphorical ‘Noah’s ark’ situation take shape with the majority of the squad involved, it is just not financial viable to do away with so much, so quickly, knowing full well that they would have to be immediately replaced for even more money.

So, instead of panicking at the enormity of the job at hand, especially internally with the state of the squad, Rogers went about his early business with an infectious optimism. Effectively tweaking his squad of those deemed surplus to requirements (including the loaning of Andy Carroll to West Ham, and the shipping out of the inconsistent Charlie Adam to Stoke), and bringing in some fresh faces, Rogers dealt with what was immediately necessary. He also found real talent nestled in the place he knows best.

Having started out as a youth team coach, Rogers developed a keen eye for young talent, and is not afraid of putting his faith in them. Raheem Sterling, the 17 year-old in his first season in the first team, has been a revelation. Showing off his speed and box of tricks with real freedom, freedom afforded to him by Rogers, the young man has shone, earning him a call-up to the full England squad. Suso, the 18 year old Spanish attacker has also looked promising, having joined the first team from the youth along with Sterling.

Despite this initial steadying of the ship, there is no getting away from the poor results that have peppered their current campaign. An embarrassing FA cup exit at the hands of lower league Oldham, coupled with the easily relinquishing of the League cup to eventual winners Swansea at Anfield, and an early exit in the Europa league against an under-performing Zenit St Petersburg must show that this season is an immensely disappointing one for Rogers’ Reds.

Their league form has also been full of frustration; with promising performances against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City undone by terrible home defeats to Aston Villa and West Brom. A paltry three away wins, less than relegation threatened Wigan, is a real cause for concern.

While there is real promise to be found in the ranks, there are still some players who are not pulling their weight. Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing have caused Rogers some real headaches this season. Downing in particular looked to be one of the first out the door come the January transfer window, but he was spared the axe after showing improvement. It may be the case that Rogers’ optimism and trust in his players could actually stunt the growth of the team, as Downing, and arguably Enrique, are not quite at the level expected for such a high profile club.

The same could be said of Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, and Fabio Borini. Both Allen and Borini worked with Rogers before Liverpool; Borini at Chelsea and Swansea, and Allen also with Swansea. Both however, have so far failed to live up to expectation, and seem like expensive risks for a team under construction.

However, the January acquisition, another former Chelsea player, Daniel Sturridge, is showing real promise. Sturridge has been labelled selfish in the past, and not a team player; but his new partnership with the brilliant Luis Suarez looks potent, making Liverpool much more of a threat going forward. Throw in the mercurial talent of Coutinho, the 20 year old Brazilian signed from Inter Milan, and it is clear that Rogers is slowly creating an attacking frontline rich in agility and free-flowing aptitude.

The Liverpool stalwarts have little to be ashamed of, despite the Reds’ form. Steven Gerrard, despite a slow start, has again shown that he is still one of the league’s premier midfielders with a series of typically rambunctious displays. Pepe Reina, who has watched many of his fellow Spaniards from the reign of Rafa Benitez depart, remains a force in the Liverpool goal, despite a few unsavoury lapses of concentration. Jamie Carragher has soldiered on at the ripe old age of 35, putting in strong shifts at the back. Glen Johnson has shown glimpses of why he is often considered one of the best attacking right backs around; and Luis Suarez has finally found his shooting boots.

The Uruguayan was initially known for his incredible shot per game ratio, with only a small percentage of his efforts finding the net. This season however, he has scored 29 times in 38 games in all competitions. A real candidate for player of the year, his sparkling performances have lit up many a dreary night for the Liverpool faithful the past year.

While the situation remains dire on the stats front, there is much cause for continued optimism around Anfield. Gone are the days of full trophy cabinets, for now. Liverpool are not to be written off, there will be a second coming, and the talent is there for all to see. Brendan Rogers is facing an utterly crucial transfer window this summer, as he must make sure his side strengthen in key areas, while keeping the vultures away from the likes of Suarez and Sterling. It may be that a European birth, of some sort, may be the only way forward now.

Brendan Rogers speaks of guiding Liverpool into a top 4 finish this season, and retaking their place in Europe’s premier competition. While this is very different to 120 miraculous minutes plus penalties in the sweltering Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Turkey, the improbability of the outcome remains the same. While not even the most foolhardy would bet on this coming to pass this season, you can be sure that while they have the undying support of the Anfield faithful, and keep the spirit of the likes of Steven Gerrard and the soon to be departing Jamie Carragher flowing through the team, Liverpool will eventually claw their way back up and may soon experience the joy and glory that they are so accustomed to.

What are Liverpool fans’ thoughts on the current state of the squad? Is Rodgers the right man to lead you back to glory? Get involved in the comments section below.

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10 Comments

  1. patrick

    February 27, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I think you pretty much covered everything. Rodgers is slowly building and most the players that were there when Rodgers joined aren’t good enough, especially playing technical attacking football. One or two weak links cost you dearly unfortunately that’s why Liverpool are inconsistent. Rodgers knows all this and I think the future will be bright and next year we desperately need to start the season well so we’re not playing catchup..

  2. Deano

    February 27, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Rodgers signings are no better than FOOLGLISH’s ? Are team is disjointed,there is zero leaders & not one of them wants too take risks because everyone is being punished ??? Two more years of this f*cking idiot,then the pr*ck yanks might wake up,and fuck him ayre and the sub standard backroom jokers that Rodgers brought with him ;-( Borini & Allen for £26.5 million pounds ;-( SO ANGRY WITH THIS TW*T !!! The sooner he is back where he belongs ( The Championship ) the better ;-(

  3. Jay

    February 28, 2013 at 2:26 am

    what a joke of an article.
    “Kenny Dalglish put Liverpool back by about five years” … really?
    2 cup finals?
    played teams like chelsea, arsenal , man utd off the park.
    our football under Kenny was better, smoother, more attacking, more ruthless.
    the only problem, we didn’t have van persie, someone to score the goals.
    and, yet you say “…there is no getting away from the poor results..”
    so you have to admit under BR we are not improving and taken a step back.
    just look at what Laudrap is doing at Swansea, just won the cup!
    wow…did BR win a cup while at Swansea…NO…
    OH dear, we got the wrong man!

    • Jay

      February 28, 2013 at 2:29 am

      BR building something…mid table team is what he is building.

    • Aiden McIlroy

      February 28, 2013 at 2:43 am

      spot on Jy, I will be gutted if w start next year with BR at the helm. He iskilling the club with an awful lack of style and tactical nous.

  4. Aiden McIlroy

    February 28, 2013 at 2:41 am

    Kenny did what?? you must be on drugs!
    The King brought SUCCESS – yes there were a couple of iffy transfers but we were playing a FAR etter brand of footy than we ar under Bumbling Brenda. Rogers is a nice chap and all but he REALLY isn’t the man to take us forward.There was a heck of lot of ‘stuff’ going on in the backgroundwhen KK was managing us wich distractd and detracted from th team. Bumbling Brenda hs none of tht to deal with. I know i speak for the majority of us when I say I am immensely concerned at out progress (lack there-of) under Bumbling Brenda.

    • Aiden McIlroy

      February 28, 2013 at 2:49 am

      to add to the above, I would dealy like to see Mourihno or Ancelotti – PROVEN names that have been there – done that.
      We are stagnating and it is a truly horrible feeling, the Gerrard era is all but gone, and I feel that wehave lost our soul.

  5. ohjay

    February 28, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Let’s not be irrational,the hallmark of any club is its ability to back their manager through thick or thin, how else will he be able to achieve his objective. I beg to differ with those who side with KK, yes he had an average time at Liverpool but it is very obvious to any scouser that his dealings in the transfer market is the reason we are struggling today, over a hundred million pounds spent on average english players who till this moment haven’t proved their worth, I never saw any cutting edge in account as on saturday we would successfully have outscored our last seasons goal tally with 10 games to go, we snatched at chances hit the woodwork more than any other team in d EPL. And why say Rodgers never won any cup, yes he didn’t but Laudrup merely built on the already strong foundation he BR left at swansea, what other coach has brought a welsh team to the EPL and if the style of play in Liverpool of recent hasn’t impressed you then there’s probably another Liverpool you’ve been watching. Rodgers has an extremely thin. Squad to choose from, thanks to KK and as one who rotates his squad that’s little or no option left for the man to choose from, his discovery of sterling,suso and wisdom is still a mean feat and his ability to spend way below half of what KK spent to find real talent(sterling assaidi and coutinho) should still be lauded. No club has come far by replacing coaches every season as this disrupts their philosophy, play and mentality. I do recall SAF was this age when he joined Manu. Rodgers might not be there but he’s definitely on the right path, all u can do as a real scouser is show some support and I believe next season will be worth watching for all reds #YNWA

    • Karl

      February 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      Yeah, and rogers dealings in the transfer market have been sensational, haven’t they? after all
      ,we have the “Welsh xavi”. our best player by a country mile was a dalglish signing. Under kenny we had the 3rd best defence in the .pl, we won trophy which got us back into Europe starting the journey toward cl and were able to beat sides above us in the league..under rogers our defence is rubbish, can’t beat anyone above us and its only Feb and we are out of everything. and yet that’s somehow kennys fault? go take a lie down

      • Aiden McIlroy

        February 28, 2013 at 11:55 pm

        Actually Karl, I hadn’t thought of the defensive aspect until you raised it and you are spot on, we alwys look likely to concede undr Brenda and don’t have a very good transition out from the back. Also, what is it with people blaming KK for todays ills? KK had the LFC spirit, he lived and breathed the club and UNDERSTOOD the club. Yes there was the garbage that went on with Lis, but Brenda hasn’t handled him any better since either. The ey to dealing with Luis is just givethe media NOTHING, let his football answer the questions, we know he can bve a bit of a dick, but so what, if he finds the onion bag I don’t care! No more Kenny bashing please!

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