LEAGUE football; it’s a lot more than a reason to get out of the house or neglect your books, it’s probably the most important thing on any football lover’s weekly schedule. That being said, the performance of your team during the week could very well transform it from good to better, good to bad, bad to good or bad to worse. I’m very doubtful though that there are any Kopites whose weeks have gone sour after our recent displays (save the inexplicable Villa game that is).
Our performances have been masterful and the results have finally started to tell the tale of the games .The Fulham match (a performance he all but prophesized in a pre-match interview), for me, was just a culminate manifestation of what has been a steady rise in form, confidence and tactical discipline. The team has picked itself up from dependency on individuals to dependency on the unit, and though there are still some loopholes we might not get away with against tougher opposition, we do look quite solid against teams from mid-table downwards.
Some may attribute this, and rightly so only if not in entirety, to the improvement in form, play and in-game awareness of the likes of Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing in the past few weeks, the latter of the three putting up a master-class performance in our emphatic victory over Fulham, but, I believe it would be highly unfair to leave out the one man all our discountenance would have been directed at if those 4 wins in 5 (all competitions I mean) had been losses or even draws: Brendan Rodgers.
He has been criticised without remorse for poor line-ups and tactics after the games we failed to win but I am yet to see an encouraging comment about him even though he has orchestrated a win in Udine to secure a Europa League knockout place and an aggressive league comeback after a poor display against Aston Villa.
He has been brave and unbiased for the most part in the selection of his starting XI. His “If you don’t perform, you don’t play” notion, to me, has been the key to the improvement in players like Hendo and Downing. Players who were sure starters under Dalglish have been made to fight for their positions in the starting XI and we can all attest to the fact that they are becoming better players for it.
I have taken plenty of hits for my belief in and defence of Rodgers and his tiki-taka philosophy and remain adamant that he has a role to play in turning our fortunes around. Comparing what he has managed with a lean roster to what Mark Hughes managed with such a wealth of talent at QPR, it would be a sheer lack of appreciation not to acknowledge his contribution to this run of good form.
I said in a much earlier article this season that if Rodgers managed to make it to Christmas with the team within touching distance of the top four and earn a spot in the Europa League knockout stages (both of which he has) then we would have a lot to look forward to in the second half of the season. We may already be halfway through the league fixtures but contrary to popular belief, I think there is every reason to be optimistic (if he actually USES the transfer window this time around).
He may not be an Alex Ferguson, pulling rabbits out of hats almost every week, but he has definitely had a visible impact since arriving on Merseyside and for that I think we must give unto Rodgers what belongs to Rodgers.