I last posted an article up here 159 days ago. I'm wondering whether that's a long time in life. It can be. Some things change, some things stay the same. Sometimes you learn things. For example, I found out that I love cats and I now have two. I found out that for some people, you're just some people even if they're not some people to you. What about football? Specifically, a direction of a football club? Brendan Rodgers took over Liverpool 6 days before my last post and the only thing I wrote about his appointment was the following:
"I believe he will provide a progressive footballing philosophy which will make an impression on the club and fans. There'll be a post on this later but hope is a dangerous thing."
I still believe that and here is the "post on this later" albeit 159 days later. A couple of days ago, on the way back from a wedding, a very good friend of mine asked me about my blog. I said I didn't have time but that was a lazy hangover-induced lie. I just thought that maybe I should focus elsewhere yet I kept writing and posting my thoughts on the Guardian, the Times and elsewhere so I had plenty to say. So, here we are. 159 days later.
Brendan Rodgers has recently said that finishing above eighth would be "fantastic" in his usual over-enthusiastic way that I actually find quite uplifting and irritating depending on the subject matter. This time, I thought "Mr. Being Liverpool is right on this one." How many places can and should Liverpool be expected to make up this season? How much progress should a manager have made in 165 days? David Moyes would find that question interesting. I'm sure Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson would have interesting thoughts on that subject too. If a manager has improved a club's league position then I would see that as progress and 165 days can bring changes but not drastic ones. Let's look at a few of the changes Rodgers has brought to Liverpool.
Rodgers has not signed technically pedantic, immobile older players as Hodgson did. Rodgers has sidelined the right players, has not alienated talented players and has improved the style of Liverpool's football. Rodgers has also introduced a number of exciting young Benitez signings; in fact only one Dalglish signing is a regular starter, our number 7. Enrique is a squad player but may regain his place after an improved second half against Chelsea. Coates remains a talented reserve to Skagger. Brad Jones, who has done well when called upon this season, is Roy Hodgson's sole representative with young Danny Wilson failing to make a single appearance. Christian Purslow can take credit for Joe Cole. The rest are Benitez and Rodgers signings. Cheers Rafa! For too long Liverpool fans have been mocked by other supporters for not living in reality but we have a manager who knows exactly where we are. Once you accept a situation, you can begin to change it.
“We finished eighth last year. If we can improve on that, it’ll be fantastic for us. That’s the reality of where Liverpool are, I’m afraid. But our young players will get better and better.”
|"Luis Suarez really doesn't have enough support."|
We're feeling our way into things and finally building a team around Suarez. Something we should have done earlier instead of trying to build around Andy Carroll who has not scored neither a goal nor provided an assist playing for a West Ham side that has played to his strengths. Carroll has played well but he is not what we need as a passing side. The constant talk of Carroll is annoying and irrelevant. Even if he was here, he would have hardly played. We play one striker and that's Suarez. He could have come in for Europa League games and cup games but then Liverpool would have had to make fundamental adjustments to our style thereby ruining the familiarisation process with young and fringe players.
Robin Van Persie is rightly acknowledged as one of the most clinical strikers on the footballing planet and has impressed this season. Suarez has missed some chances but his record is impressive overall, especially so in this year's Premier League season. 11 games for Suarez has produced 8 goals and 3 assists, similar to Van Persie's record of 8 goals and 5 assists in the same number of league games. What Liverpool need is better goal scoring wide forwards who can also fill in as a striker when Suarez is unavailable. I'm thinking Heung-Min Son, Daniel Sturridge or André Schürrle.
Looking at the wide forward situation, it is a problem. Downing and Cole don't count, Borini is injured, Assaidi is still new to England but hasn't seen many league minutes so far, Sterling has been sterling but is only 17, 18 year-old Suso looks to be used as an attacking midfielder in the future. Moving Suso inside is a good call by Rodgers. The Spanish youngster's vision, guile, technique, long-range shooting and ability to find space "between the lines" all make him an excellent prospect in "the hole" unlike the fading Joe Cole. Maybe Borini will also provide depth as a central striker allowing Brendan Rodgers to focus on the wide forward positions. Borini may represent expensive depth as a striker in our current parsimonious philosophy but depth nonetheless.
There's a lot to do but hopefully Liverpool will get there. Hopefully Liverpool can improve decision making in the final third after the international break. A home win against Wigan on Saturday and securing qualification against Young Boys next week (if Anzhi Makhachkala hopefully avoids defeat) would be a great way to head into tricky away league ties against Swansea and Spurs. There's an easier December fixture list on paper so Liverpool have to knuckle down and start trying to turn one point into three.