Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Calls for Liverpool to sack Brendan Rodgers

 Calls for Liverpool to sack Brendan Rodgers premature but culture of negligence at Anfield could be his undoing

Calls for Liverpool to sack Brendan Rodgers are premature but culture of negligence could be his undoing                   

Liverpool have spent so much time patting themselves on the back for finishing second, they overlooked bit where Barca took best player and domestic rivals overtook them

 It is a scientific fact soon to be explored in the next Christopher Nolan movie that wherever you travel, at any fixed point in the universe, someone somewhere will be calling for someone to resign. Or be sacked.
We live in an age where the default position is to be offended by the continued employment of those we
don’t consider to be as complete human beings as ourselves. There are now offices full of recent graduates dedicated to a daily web search to find out what they – and the rest of civilised society – should be offended by.
“We’ve found a bloke who sent a distasteful email to his friend in Doncaster last month. See if you can get hold of the service provider to make the exchanges public and get it online quick so everyone else can see how inappropriate it is.”
Some offences, naturally, are worse than others, but if it’s not revolting text messages or Stone Age opinions provoking the evangelicals into full preach mode, it’s losing football matches.
You can have eleven month investigations into all that other stuff like casual racists attitudes, but losing a couple of football matches is so insufferably bad there have to be immediate repercussions.     

It is the ultimate resigning matter and sack-able offence, and of the 20 managers in the Premier League it is the law of the land at least one must be ‘on the brink’ every Monday morning.
So it was that at 3.24pm on Sunday, a mere ten minutes after the final whistle at Selhurst Park, the first ‘Rodgers for the chop?’ email dropped from the bookmakers (they were a bit late so presumably someone was on a tea break when Crystal Palace scored their third goal).
A fortnight ago it was Mauricio Pochettino, but Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini have also had it this season. Pellegrini might have won the league title a few months ago, but he lost football matches in Europe this season, which is unforgivable at a club that has never won the Champions League.
Wenger has paid for the Emirates Stadium more than Emirates Airlines with consecutive Champions League qualification, but he keeps on losing football matches against others teams who want to be or are already in the Champions League. The Arsenal fans – or some Arsenal fans who like to think they speak for all Arsenal fans – have had enough.
And now Rodgers, greeted to Anfield with a guard of honour and new contract last summer, will have to tolerate the sound of a ticking clock until he stops doing daft things like believing his current back four will ever keep a clean sheet in his current formation.
There is so much to repair at Anfield the construction company looking at the new Main Stand may need to look closer at the plans.
Rodgers’ idealistic system of playing Steven Gerrard in front of his back four worked last year but is utterly inappropriate now; his defenders lack clarity of thought and strength of character and need more protection; his goalkeeper is dreadful (and his back-up keeper even worse); his midfield lightweight and unbalanced; and if Liverpool do not recruit a top class striker even those predictions of a mid-table finish will seem optimistic. Rodgers’ vulnerability is many of these issues were raised when Liverpool were winning, and a culture of negligence, possibly even arrogance, has set in across the whole club where nothing has been done to address glaring inadequacies.
We should not be entirely surprised. Liverpool have simply done what they do after every good season. They spend so much time patting themselves on the back and dishing out contracts on the back of finishing second, they overlook the bit where Barcelona or Real Madrid take their best player and their domestic rivals sprint ahead of them.
They then revert to defensive mode, questioning the judgement of the critics until the acceptance a couple years later (probably in an autobiography or cathartic interview of some sort) that – yes – another opportunity was indeed missed.
Rodgers must also take responsibility for Liverpool currently being the easiest team in the country to play against. Just let them knock the ball around in their own half for a few minutes and wait for the forward pass that concedes possession. Better still, press their defenders, watch it go back to Simon Mignolet and bingo.
Rodgers’ response to questions about his future after the loss to Crystal Palace hardly quashed the appetite of speculators smelling Irish blood, but for all the blame on him this is still premature.
Aside from having only just signed that new deal and still, yes still, remarkably still, being in all competitions and only five points off fourth position, there is no appetite at Anfield for another change and the fresh rebuilding process it would involve.
You’d also have to ask aside from the obvious dire start to this campaign what would Rodgers really be getting sacked for? Putting his name to the mistakes of others?
Although there are those who insist he has made terrible signings it is well-documented it is the committee of which he is a member that will be held accountable by John W. Henry, not just the manager.
He may accept public responsibility because it makes him look in complete control of transfers when he never has been, but it’s not the truth, and he is clever enough to know there will be an email trail somewhere detailing exactly who brought those eight summer signings (and the rank average Mignolet a year ago) to Merseyside. If Rodgers had his way he'd have a Dutchman who could pass the ball in goal, while Ashley Williams would have been marshalling his back four last season and this. Would he have made a difference? Anyone who watched Wales in Belgium last week might think so.
Some might argue he would also have Clint Dempsey in attack, too, but the point remains he is not the only architect of the squad.
It is series of transfer failures that have caught up with Liverpool and an ensemble cast must face up their responsibility. Rodgers is simply the public face of the deterioration.
Dismissing Rodgers would also be expensive, and Liverpool – still awaiting a UEFA verdict on their FFP status – cannot afford another hefty round of ‘termination payments’ in their next accounts.
You also have to ask where would they turn next? One of the attractions of Rodgers was he was a relatively cheap purchase when he left Swansea, his immediate predecessors earning anywhere between £3million to £5 million a year. Some of the names erroneously linked with the post recently would be on the higher end of that pay scale, making them non-starters.
Liverpool ripped it up and started again when Rafa Benitez left. They did the same after sacking Roy Hodgson, and then Kenny Dalglish. For two years the switch to a ‘long-term’ strategy under Rodgers was working. Another change and Liverpool might as well ask Mike Ashley if they can take the name St James’ Park.
Last season was the most enjoyable watching Liverpool for 24 years, but for the first four months of this one it has been as bad as it has been in the same period.
The appetite from some to change after Rodgers’ first poor spell is uncharacteristically impatient and also rather suspicious, as many have not really like the cut of his jib since day one and are putting rather too much relish on their despair.
Rodgers will not lack supporters desperate for him to ensure if it is going to get even worse before it gets better – and it certainly will get worse without a top class striker – it does EVENTUALLY get better.
Victory against Ludogorets on Wednesday would be a start, but the least Rodgers deserves is until the end of this season and the beginning of the next – preferably with the help of a transfer committee that finally proved it knows what it is doing.
Nothing is unconditional in football, however. He can not let Liverpool sink too much nearer to the bottom three before they start clawing their way towards the top four or – just like those esteemed names who came and went before – the pressure will become intolerable.

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