THE BLOG
24/09/2015 14:24 BST | Updated 24/09/2016 06:12 BST

Liverpool Are Sliding Down the Table Again and Rodgers Should Pay the Price

Oh dear, Liverpool. A season which started with cautious optimism has swiftly descended into #RodgersOut crowdfunding campaigns and Twitter rants and it looks like it's only getting worse as we move towards the end of September.

Liverpool are sat in 13th place in the table, haven't won for five games in all competitions, and Brendan Rodgers is now the bookies' favourite in the running for the next Premier League boss to be fired. There have been better starts to campaigns in Anfield history.

Now, football fans are a capricious lot, and there aren't many managers in any league who haven't been the subject of some kind of #[name]Out campaign at some point, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're always wrong. They are sometimes; ask Newcastle fans if they'd rather have Alan Pardew or Steve McClaren at the helm at the moment and you'll find a lot of members of the campaign to bin the former have changed their tune, but hey. Sometimes they're right. It happens. They might be right about Rodgers.

To borrow a (slightly harsh) Jose Mourinho quote on Arsene Wenger, Rodgers has become a specialist in failure at Anfield. In the season before he took over, the Reds finished eighth in the Premier League, won the League Cup and got to the final of the FA Cup, where they lost to Chelsea. In Rodgers' first season, they didn't get past the fourth round of any cup and still only finished seventh. As improving on your predecessor goes, that's not a textbook example.

The season after that was 'the' season. You know the one. Let me recap if you're struggling: Suarez brilliant, top at Christmas, lost to Chelsea and City, had a resurgence, top again by April, "this does not slip", then The Slip. And a second place, to go with some more dreadful cup performances.

Rodgers took an awful lot of the plaudits for Liverpool's performances that season, but the brilliance has been retroactively tainted by what's followed. It does not, it turns out, take a genius manager to put the best forward the Premier League's seen in a decade onto the pitch and point him towards the goal. It does take a good manager to deal with that striker leaving though, which Rodgers has singularly failed to do.

Without a laser-guided Suarez to destroy opponents, his team have looked utterly lost. Last season could hardly have been a rougher landing back to planet Earth thanks to off-field issues, Rodgers himself contributing to the departure of Steven Gerrard, as well as the problems on the pitch. And in the transfer market. And... elsewhere, probably. Maybe the plumbing broke at some point too. Probably wasn't fun.

Then, the current season. After a lot of bustle in the transfer window, which saw just one regular first-team player leave the club and a number of new boys come in; a new first-choice left-back in Joe Gomez plus Christian Benteke for £32.5m, Nathaniel Clyne and Roberto Firmino, who were all brought in to make big first-team impacts.

There was genuine optimism at Anfield once again. The first two games yielded wins, albeit tight, nervy ones over Stoke and Bournemouth. Since then though, nothing. A couple of draws, a couple of pretty embarrassing defeats. Failure to beat Norwich at home. Least season's horrors are coming back fast for Rodgers, as his big-money centre forward fails again.

Well, 'fails'. It's obviously too soon to judge Christian Benteke, but he's done very little to impress thus far. A goal which should have been ruled out against Bournemouth and a one-off wonderstrike in an already-lost game against Manchester United. Otherwise, he's looked pretty anonymous. It can't be that Rodgers keeps being handed dreadful centre-forwards, it appears more like he's incapable of dealing with any kind of striker who isn't an all-mastering genius like Suarez.

He's clearly struggling to find ways to integrate his new signings, and he's not having a much easier time with the players who were already under his command. His occasional dalliances with three-centre-back formations show that his tactical process may actually be him, blindfolded, throwing darts at a dartboard with Football Manager pre-sets stapled to it.

So he's tactically shaky - we've always kind of suspected this, even in The Season - but his strength has always been said to be his man management. After all, he handled Suarez! Suarez who, uh, bit two people while contracted to the club. Ah. Honestly, Tim Sherwood might be a better leader of men, and he's got a good relationship with Benteke. And at least his inept tactics are consistent.

In the end, Brendan Rodgers is a one-trick pony. And his one trick is getting somebody else to do all the work for him.

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