Liverpool are well underway in the rebuilding process as transfer targets are drawn and players within the club are transfer listed. However, there are certain key players who will be vital to the club’s rise once again.
While BBC and Skysports continue to quarrel over West Ham’s bid for Andy Carroll and Bale continues to be ‘severely injured’ by Charlie Adam’s tackle and yet makes his way to the mirror, sets his hair and plays for Spurs in friendly, Liverpool FC and Brendan Rodgers have a lot more important things to take care of.
Scouting, identifying and bringing in new players is one thing; but when a club is in a situation like Liverpool is in, an equal emphasis is imperative on the current roster. The premise of this piece is that Brendan Rodgers is the right man for Liverpool in the long run. The club has been shown glimmers of hope many a time in the recent past but all in vain. The appointment of a young, dynamic manager like Brendan is finally a sign that the players and fans were subconsciously waiting for.
As is with any new manager who joins the team prior to the start of a fresh season, Brendan Rodgers is en route to playing his role to the T when it comes to bringing new faces to Liverpool. The easier thing to do is talk to your players about the philosophy you preach and talk to your management about the new players you want to see at the club who will walk the path you aim to pave for them. Well, this bit of it has already been taken care of by the Liverpool manager.
Fitting into the style Rodgers aims to implement at Liverpool is not an easy task by any means. One relates to a club through the style of football and the manager at helm – both, going hand-in-hand. Liverpool were long associated with a certain brand of football that symbolized their reign over Europe and England. That brand was then lost in the 90’s but now every single person from the Liverpool folklore has reignited the hopes of longevity and success with the kind of football Brendan is aiming to bring in. Then the question arises – how important is it to retain those players who fit into the tiki-taka-esque style?
While you have your heroes on the pitch – Steven Gerrard, Lucas, Suarez and Reina who have the ability to adapt and implement, there are a few others in the Liverpool side who need to be coached on the concept of possession football. These players will obviously learn better with time but the important thing to remember is that they are still vital to Liverpool and the effort that is going in to retain key players for the long term should also be channeled to retaining the set of players under tuition. Let’s take a closer look.
There hasn’t been much talk about how Rodgers’ defenses line up and perform but from the general gathering of opinions, it is understood that the defence under Rodgers is quite shaky due to the necessity required in maintaining a balance between initiating the passing game and utilizing spaces in addition to the incumbent job of defending.
Manchester City paid £22 million for the former Everton defender Joleon Lescott so the notion of bidding just £13 million for the Dane, who, along with Skrtel was part of one of the most strict defences in England last season seems like blasphemy.
One of the key roles in tiki-taka is the presence of the libero – the man from the back, overseeing the game and initiating the passing. Agger can very well fit into this role under Brendan Rodgers. The advantage of preferring him over a new signing? He understands the dynamics and roles of each player at Liverpool FC. He understands the nature and requirements of the Premier League which means it is easier for Brendan to coach the defender.
The Slovakian is another player whose Liverpool career has started to blossom over the past few seasons. Having featured in every League game in the 2010/11 season, Skrtel has no doubt earned quite a reputation for himself in Liverpool circles.
Again, while it is easy to name those players who won’t fit into the new system, it is relatively more difficult to pass a verdict on those who ‘may’ fit. Skrtel has certainly developed as a professional and will prove to be a pillar in the rebuilding of Liverpool FC. With an aging Carragher, Skrtel will be the stalwart in defence going forward and hence is an important cog in the wheel.
The general belief amongst Liverpool fans is that Brendan Rodgers knows exactly the players who are on the wire and is in a better position to take a call on whether the likes of Aquilani or Adam have to stay or have to leave; which is fair enough.
On the other hand, experience is still a growing plant for the likes of Shelvey, Henderson and Spearing. Jonjo Shelvey recently signed a contract extension with Liverpool which indicates a step in the right direction for club and player. Since Rodgers’ takeover, he is the first player to have been awarded a contract extension.
Henderson hasn’t really enjoyed his debut season with Liverpool in the Premier League ever since making his £20 million move last summer. Those who have watched his game closely will agree that the England international is comfortable with the ball and can deliver passes with the right amount of pressure. He also has the knack of getting into the box with bursts of pace every once in a while.
Although there were inconsistencies in his showing, all the above qualities just didn’t add up when Dalglish was at helm. But it makes more sense of having such a player now that Rodgers has arrived at the club. Age is on his side and a few more games under his belt will surely see him excel at Liverpool under the new manager.
Liverpool’s own was given a huge responsibility last season when he was asked to fill in for the injured Lucas. For a large part of it, he did fairly well. The only visible problem with Spearing is that he probably doesn’t do much on the field. Not the kind who can stand out in a game or who could be the key player for a Liverpool turnaround.
All of that can change by simply being more involved for ninety minutes. With Rodgers’ philosophy echoing the words ‘possession, possession’, Spearing here has a golden chance to show his worth and testify to being a Liverpudlian through and through. The competition against Lucas is immense but remember that Lucas himself had to compete with the likes Alonso and Mascherano once upon a time.
Amongst the many reasons you can state for Liverpool’s abysmal League performance in the 2011/12 season, one of the key ones is the lack of finishing. Steven Gerrard once said – “Don’t try to beat the goalkeeper. Try to destroy the goalkeeper.”
Clearly, lack of that lesson was being carried out and that needs to change this season. Liverpool have done good in bringing in Fabio Borini in that aspect since he is considered to be a good finisher in the box and wastes little time in experimenting when he should be kicking the ball into the back of the net.
The name that has been doing the round across discussion forums and social networks; Raheem Sterling has been expected to be given a chance to feature further in the first team this season. The idea of breeding academy players of quality is that one day you can see them graduate to the first team and perform to match the expectations of the club.
Sterling has certainly impressed his coaching staff at the academy and Reserves level, not to forget, Kenny Dalglish and senior players like Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher too. And at this point in time where he is still on the learning curve, etching Rodgers’ ideology could only reap rewards in the long run for Liverpool’s academy graduate.
Tottenham have come knocking on the doors of Liverpool for the signature of the Jamaican-born winger so quicker the Reds secure his future, the better it is.
Jesus Joaquin “Suso” Fernandez Saez de La Torre – a short lad with a long name and heaps of talent stored inside. Although it would take him relatively more time to feature in the first team when compared to Sterling, Liverpool should follow up on the good scouting they did on this player and house him into the club for the long run.
Suso has plenty of promise and has a lot to offer if his talent and potential are utilized to the maximum. Rodgers, apart from being a tactically astute coach, is also a good man manager. A figure like him walking up to 19 year-old Suso and telling him that he will have a key role to play at Liverpool Football Club in the coming years will go a long way in shaping the youngster’s future.
Look at it from high above and you will see that Liverpool is trying to get up on its feet. During this time, no doubt several vultures (clubs) will fly in to grab a piece of it (players). If they are to revive themselves, then they need all the components for revival in place. It is the only way they will build a spine and turn into a nemesis once more.