They are the talk of the town, the subject of exaggerated media pieces and stories, the club being mocked by their rivals now more than ever; Liverpool Football Club are becoming famous again, but for all the wrong reasons. That glimmer of hope prevailing amongst fans in the Liverpool folklore doesn’t transcend to the world outside as trepidation stemming from the rise of a European powerhouse once again. Fair enough, because one talks and comments on what one sees; and the one man bearing brunt of the criticism, mockery and antagonism – Brendan Rodgers.
In the sense of ‘sour grapes’, it is true that legendary club managers of the past like Bill Shankly and Gerard Houllier lost their first games as Liverpool managers but in the present age, declaring a manager unfit and claiming that a club is heading into turmoil due to its worst start in a 100 years should only be made considering the surrounding factors. Else, it is just a classic case of myopia.
For starters, suggesting that Liverpool are again en route to a downward spiral is a sign of impatience. Just this once, we will wind the clocks back to the time of Bill Shankly. Liverpool was presented to the Scotsman in a really bad shape – funds were the least of their concerns at that point in time.
Shankly had to revamp the club’s style, attitude and had to even go to the extent of cleaning up Anfield and its rest-rooms. The one thing that got the team of the 1960’s and 70’s was their focus. There was an unspoken desire to succeed, to triumph, and to be the best there is. But what differentiated these players with those from other clubs was their adamant nature to achieve great things with Liverpool. With the presence of some talented individuals on the pitch, a man to whom football was ‘much more than a matter of life and death’ and that small boot-room where great ideas initiated, few of the greatest chapters in Liverpool’s history were recorded.
Today, the club finds itself on the shores of a revolution once again. Revolution, although seems like a big word for Liverpool’s situation, is the right one to use. Why? Because for the first time since Rafa Benitez’ departure, the club’s results are not reflecting solely on the manager’s credibility. Take into consideration any Liverpool team post the 2008/09 season. Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish came with contrasting reputations with respect to Liverpool. The former started and ended his reign with the same chin rub, clearly clueless about what to do with such a prestigious club. The latter had his connect taken out as the tool to rebuild and build the team for success but couldn’t pace up with the nature of the modern game and eventually lost out on a long-term spot.
In the case of Hodgson and Dalglish, it was the manager that the fans started doubting. The focus on Liverpool players were much less. This could stem from a fact that Hodgson and Dalglish didn’t have a modern, convincing, match-winning philosophy that they trusted. You can approach each game as it comes but you need to have educated yourself on what are the few things you are absolutely going to do. You need to have a school of thought where the light is always on. The light goes off and you are not going to be a manager fit enough for a big club. No disrespect to Hodgson or Dalglish whatsoever, but if they believed and convinced themselves of a methodology that would work at Liverpool as of today, either of them would still be at the helm.
This is why the Liverpool folklore needs to believe in Brendan Rodgers. Never mind his background and resume; everybody starts somewhere and needs a stepping stone but what matters in his case is a staunch belief in the method and its discipline that he looks to employ. If you aren’t expressing your grief over Liverpool’s Premier League form so far this season, you are talking about how they played. And very few would argue that Liverpool’s eighteenth spot is a consequence of their poor showing on the pitch.
Liverpool ruled the roost over both the Manchester clubs in their League games at Anfield. They were formidable against Arsenal but defensive lapses which could realistically be avoided lead to a home loss while away games at West Brom and Sunderland are tricky for any team.
So, what are we concluding from this? Mistakes by Liverpool players’ are finally getting the kind of attention that should have been given from the time Liverpool finished second in 2008. Areas on the field where the players are faltering, players who cannot fit into the club’s style and the reinforcements Liverpool needs can all happen on a large scale now because you have a manager who has walked in with a plan, a plan that complements his style of work and his lessons on how the team should carry itself on the pitch.
It is because of his belief in his own preaching that Brendan Rodgers was and is, able to make bold decisions. Letting go of Andy Carroll in the first place, shortening the team by selling a host of players, expressing his desire and faith in fielding youth in the senior squad are all big decisions at a turning point for Liverpool and only a man who is convinced he can take the team to the top can make these decisions.
No one’s put a due date on when Liverpool will challenge for the top four and when they will get back to playing in the Champions League. The fall from 2008 has been hard and opened up quite an abyss. The former manager of Swansea and Watford has come in and taken charge. He has been tasked with not just taking the club back to the realm of top teams in England but also to load it with enough determination and talent to win the Premier League. Brendan Rodgers is the one handling the most pressure right now. There isn’t an iota of doubt that he is doing it well. While fans expect results and growth (most of them want rapid growth), it is only right the club and manager expect a little bit of patience from the fans in turn.