WHAT a lovely feeling it was to go to work on a Monday morning safe in the knowledge that the mighty reds had stormed to 3 points, and that chortles and guffaws would be directed at other poor sods who happen to support teams not as fortunate.
Before I get into my piece I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts that have certainly made me chuckle over the weekend (don’t worry they are Liverpool related!).
First off it is the disservice paid by some to other Premier League teams, who, let’s not forget, are in the top flight on merit regardless of where their current form finds them. Why did this point make me chuckle you ask? Well, young/old whippersnappers/codgers, Liverpool record an excellent victory which is belittled because of the perceived level of our opposition whether it be Wigan this weekend or at Carrow Road a number of weeks ago. A Wigan side that has recently won away at Spurs and a Norwich team who have beaten both United and Arsenal, whilst recording clean sheets no less.
In this league, any team is capable of getting a result against any other team; to belittle certain opposition smacks of the kind of arrogance that can lead to complacency – something not welcome at all.
The second point relates to the nonsense stat regarding where Liverpool would be without Suarez. Codswallop, boulderdash, tomfoolery are words I would use in response!
How any serious journalist or pundit can roll this out is beyond me. Dabbling in the hypothetical is more Mystic Meg than Pulitzer Prize. Do I need to embellish further? If so please let me know!
Anyways, chuckle time over, game face on people; it is debate time once more! This week I am asking the question: Is it time we gave Brendan Rodgers some credit?
Normal process ensues. I will argue yin and yang responses and humbly ask you, yes you, to let me know which side of the fence you stand and why! Hey, if there is another side then please let me know!
Rodgers credit? Hell Yeah!
We now stand at 7 games unbeaten in the league, and during this run only Manchester’s City and United have picked up more points. Of course it is disappointing to have drawn so many of these ties but it is crucial not to forget the minutiae that have lead to this. Let me expand…
The teams at the top, on form, and high on confidence will find that decisions tend to swing in their favour (City’s first penalty this weekend anyone?), the bounce of the ball and the calmness in front of goal. In a parallel universe these last 7 games will have seen amongst others; Suarez celebrating a winner at Goodison and Shelvey bagging at least two to sink Newcastle.
This is delving a little too much into fantasy for me, but worth highlighting that moments completely beyond the control of Rodgers have restricted our progress somewhat. In terms of the Wigan game, let us not forget, Rodgers is still in the infancy of his Liverpool life and with a limited squad that needs rotation, has to experiment somewhat to get the best out of what is available. Personally, I like the three at the back formation for a number of reasons I’m sure I will discuss at another time.
This wasn’t working so he tinkered, taking a bold move in withdrawing Suso – arguably our best performer on the day- and replacing with a much chastised Henderson to ‘flip the triangle’, tactically outclassing Martinez, and from this point we were able to dominate Wigan and carve them open. Surely, even in the most ardent of the Anti-Rodgers brigade, this has to be applauded for both bravery and tactical insight?
Like him or not, in Rodgers we have a manager not afraid to admit his mistakes, assess a game as it happens and change it, regardless of the time on the clock. Not every game will go to plan or run smoothly so it is crucial that you have a manager able to spot what is not happening and change it.
Credit is also due in terms of how Rodgers has dealt with Jose Enrique and, seemingly, Henderson. The Spaniard after an impressive start looked woeful at left back, devoid of confidence and seemingly waving goodbye to Anfield. Yet Rodgers has deployed him higher up the pitch and removed the defensive shackles and he is responding well. As for Henderson, we have a player who is the model professional and seemingly responding to the tough love (unlike certain others) and grabbing his opportunity.
Rodgers credit? Hell No!!!
Come off it, are we not getting carried away with a win against Wigan at home? Surely all games at Anfield should yield 3 points, and games against the likes of Wigan should be viewed as goal difference fodder! Rodgers failed to learn his lesson from last week against Chelsea in utilising a formation with three at the back without a proper holding midfielder.
Utilising Allen in this unfamiliar role is leading him to lose his effectiveness and tire (although, Allen haters, he did win back possession more times than anyone else, as well as intercepting more times).
The formation change was more luck than anything else! Suso was by far our best player and what is Rodgers essentially saying to him when he withdraws him in spite of his performance?
We are in November, meaning that Rodgers is fast approaching 6 months at the helm, so why is he still tinkering with the side and with formations; surely by now he must know his best XI overall, and his best available XI? What frustrates most in Rodgers (as well as other recent managers) is the obsession of who we are playing against! Too much time is spent on thinking how to deal with this player of that player when surely we should be saying ‘who cares who plays for them, they need to worry about Gerrard, Suarez’ etc.
Do United, Barca or Real mess about with their team depending on opposition? No, they have a belief in the way they play and the players that they have, and that is why they are successful. Players need time to gel together and to find form and if you constantly tinker and mess them around they can never settle and never get a rhythm. Is it not worrying that even with a squad so small that Rodgers does not play a settled side?
Well there you! Personally, I stand with the ‘Hell Yeah’s’. Regardless of what I think of Rodgers I am a firm believer in giving credit where it is due and the ways in which he has positively affected the last two games has been impressive! But who the hell cares what I think! What do you think?
Let me know below, or on twitter @timdibs
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