THE BLOG

Liverpool Are Floundering and Brendan Rodgers Is to Blame

03/12/2014 20:04 GMT | Updated 02/02/2015 10:59 GMT

It was a shrewd move from Brendan Rodgers to go in front of the press last week and admit that he was aware of being the bookies' favourite for the sack. Possibly his smartest move of the season. It brought the inevitable conversation forward and forced a lot of fans to come out in support of him - after all, how can you back the sacking of last year's manager of the year just three months into the new season?

It's a tough position for the club and fans to be in, because Rodgers has shown a lot since July to make his position weaker.

It's not that Liverpool have had some bad results to start the season - although make no mistake, they really have - but they've looked utterly insipid, devoid of ideas and just flat out horrible to watch.

That, for a manager and club who pride themselves on putting on a show for their fans, may be the most worrying thing to come from the first portion of this season.

This is down to Rodgers and pretty much down to Rodgers alone.

The team's tactics have looked muddled all season, with the Newcastle match at the start of November showing this up better than anything else. They started the match in a weird, bastardised 3-5-1-1 formation which was Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren line up in a back three.

Raheem Sterling found himself shunted way out on the right, almost as the wing-back, where he had an awful game. Nobody looked good and Liverpool lost.

It's obviously hyperbole to call Liverpool a club in massive crisis - they're only five points off a Champions League place for crying out loud - but sitting in 11th place with six defeats in 13 games won't please anybody at Anfield. Rodgers has the time to fix it, it's the ability that's in doubt.

He's spent most of this season lamenting the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, relying instead on a 19-year-old as his main attacking threat, having failed on a massive scale to replace his star forward in the summer's transfer window.

That transfer window was Rodgers' fifth at the helm of Liverpool and so far he's spent over £210m on improving the team. And the only players who have scored more than one goal in the league this season are a 19-year-old who came through the youth system (3 goals) and a 78-year-old sack of aching muscles who goes by the name of Steven Gerrard (2). It's almost as if Rodgers is completely inept in the transfer market.

Well, that might not be entirely fair. Daniel Sturridge had a great last season and he was a Rodgers signing and Coutinho has looked periodically impressive. So not completely inept. Two decent signings in five transfer windows, though, is possibly slightly worse than a monkey playing Football Manager might manage. Especially with £210m spent.

So with his tactics and transfer policy in question, it's a good thing that Rodgers' man management is so great. Except for the media reports of a dressing room rift between him and club captain Gerrard and Glen Johnson making noises about leaving the club and - okay, maybe his man management isn't perfect either.

Liverpool were an absolute joy to watch last season, but Suarez's departure has thrown that campaign into sharp focus now. Were they a good team helmed by a top manager, or did Rodgers just have to put 11 players out on the pitch and let Suarez and Sturridge do their thing?

That's not necessarily a criticism of his plan for last season, it takes a certain amount of nous to realise that you need to take your hands off the reins, but it only works if the players are in place to do the work on the pitch. Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert are fine squad players, but that isn't what Liverpool need right now.

It could be that what the club needs is for Rodgers to remain in charge of the majority of the club's workings, but let somebody else take over in the transfer market.

Given that it's not the 'Liverpool way' to hire and fire managers as much as some clubs, this could be the way to go. But if Liverpool are still sitting outside of the European qualifying slots come February or March, Rodgers will be in serious bother.

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