Liverpool: Has Rodgers Thrown Out the Baby with the Anfield Bathwater?
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So the Fenway Group wait eagerly for Brendan Rodgers to restore an abundant football harvest to Anfield. Let’s imagine how likely that is with the evidence so far.
Proudly announcing he’d only taken the Liverpool job because he was the number one choice (in fact club discussions had previously taken place with Roberto Martinez), Brendan quickly unfurled his “Have style, will travel” template.
With it, he has begun to hone a philosophy and to wield a knife that could just be filed under the “knee jerking a little too quickly” category.
Let’s look at the ins and outs.
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1. Out—Craig Bellamy
Possibly the most Marmite of footballers, but as TV summarizer Mark Lawrenson commented about the undoubted star performer of the Olympic Team GB, “When Bellamy’s on the ball, there’s always something happening…”
While many may baulk at the more abrasive side of his personality, he’s never suffered footballing "fools" gladly.
His philosophy is simple: deliver five-star football every time; so anything less from his teammates is unacceptable.
Liverpool displayed a marked lack of creativity in their opening Europa League venture against modest Belarusian opposition, and (while any Liberty Stadium regular could confirm it only through gritted teeth) what Bellamy brings to the table fits perfectly into the Rodgers pattern—two inventive and thrusting wingers serving both midfield runners and an imposing front man...which brings us conveniently to...
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2. Out—Andy Carroll
Scarcely was Rodgers over the Anfield threshold than the briefing emerged that the Geordie striker “didn’t figure in his plans.” Carroll has long been the whipping boy of a lazy media, but it was surely only those wedded tightest to their preconceptions who could have failed to notice the Carroll evolution in the sunset weeks of last season, highlighted by his two FA Cup substitute goals against Chelsea.
Carroll also had a pivotal role to play for England against Sweden in the Euros, only to be met by the Rodgers cold shoulder on his return. With AC Milan said to be interested, plus the fact that clubs outside the EPL elite are still willing to offer upwards of £18 million for the player, perhaps this tells its own tale.
Also worth considering is that Carroll is not a substantially different figure to the Danny Graham outlet that stood so successfully atop the Swansea passing flagpole last season. Maybe Rogers is playing the man.
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3. In the Mission Statement
Surely enough, as‘B.R.’ was being velcroed onto his tracksuit top, Rodgers was informing the media, “I’m sure Liverpool will be a great club again–probably after I’ve left..”
Is this what a title-hungry Anfield crowd really wants to hear? They’ve only just witnessed the overthrow of the House of legend King Kenny (and the early silverware it brought).
The dictum in the Millennium’s second decade for managers and consortia alike is “success—yesterday!” Fans may well be whispering why a return to the top table should yet again be delayed.
The Rodgers caution is in marked contrast to the demeanour of his former mentor Jose Mourinho on arriving at an arguably less iconic club Chelsea in the early '00s. "The Special One" promised the existing order would be torn down via cups and titles being delivered back to Stamford Bridge.
BR doesn’t have to be about PR. But Liverpool fans want a persona that can stay the course with arch-nemesis Sir Alex Ferguson in the PR stakes—whether their newest incumbent can or will fit that role, only time will tell.
Of course, it’ll be early results and performances that will naturally provide the acid test.
Right now, the Anfield jury is already evaluating the early evidence; as more exhibits arrive (or depart), expect a verdict pre-Christmas.
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