Liverpool: What the Fans Are Saying About Brendan Rodgers

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2012

Liverpool: What the Fans Are Saying About Brendan Rodgers

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    Liverpool appointed the fourth man to hold the manager's position in the past 28 months this summer, with Brendan Rodgers chosen as the man to end the chopping and changing and implement a plan of sustainability, solidity and success going forward.

    His appointment was initially met by a curious mixture of apprehension and positivity, with some fans pleased at looking to bring in a young, dynamic and popular coach and others preferring the alternative option of bringing in a big-name, proven track-record coach.

    Having had seven competitive fixtures, a full transfer window and plenty of airtime behind him as he settles to his new desk at Melwood, many fans have changed their initial thoughts on the manager.

    Here is a look at what the majority seem to be saying about Rodgers.

Tactics

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    The arrival of Brendan Rodgers signified one immediate change: a switch from last season's 4-4-2 to a much more possession-based 4-3-3.

    Rodgers has spoken about his "four P's": possession, pressure, patience, penetration.

    It won't be an easy switch for all the Reds' players to go from last year's attacking philosophy—which never really seemed to include a plan of action as to how to go about their attacking—to this season's keep-ball system.

    Indeed, some have already been deemed incapable of adapting and—rightly or wrongly—discarded for the season or permanently.

    What is clear is that there are already facets of the game Rodgers wants to implement that have improved Liverpool's play this season, and the shape of the team is much more balanced and noticeable, with more players in their natural or preferred roles.

    Time will show the Reds doing better in their individual positions, while as a team the success will be largely dependent on future improvements in key areas.

    The building blocks are merely being put in place in this early stage of the season, for what owner, manager and most fans want to be five or perhaps 10 years.

    An overriding feeling from the fans is that this ball retention-first strategy is the right one to implement. Rodgers has taken the typical pass-and-move philosophy of the club and is looking to take it a few steps further in different areas of the pitch and fans are keen to see it pay off.

    Brendan Rodgers was made for Liverpool Football Club. Let's accept that it may take time, but he's the right man for the job.

    — Brian Durand (@BrianDurand56) September 6, 2012

Players

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    Taking into account both players already at the club and the transfers he oversaw during his first summer at Liverpool, the jury has to still be out on Brendan Rodgers, with plenty of positives and a few controversial decisions being made.

    The signing of Joe Allen made some uneasy at the high fee, but the way the former Swansea City player has taken hold of the Liverpool midfield and dictated games leaves no room for argument: this was the player Brendan Rodgers, and the Liverpool team, needed.

    Fabio Borini has shown flashes of excellent movement and clearly Rodgers, having worked with him previously, believes completely in his ability. However he has yet to hit his stride in the Premier League, while Oussama Assaidi has yet to make his debut.

    Nuri Sahin is an excellent player and will show his talent and why the Reds were right to bring him in as the season progresses.

    On the other hand, Charlie Adam, Jay Spearing, Alberto Aquilani, Dirk Kuyt and several other players have left the club this summer, though none caused as much of a divide in opinion as the loaning out of record signing Andy Carroll.

    The supporters still appear split as to the effectiveness, the ability and the suitability of Carroll in a Rodgers team.

    What we can say with certainty is the former No. 9 always got a terrific reception from the Anfield crowd. The failure to bring in a replacement could yet decide just how well—or otherwise—the first season under Brendan Rodgers goes.

    The players themselves for the most part appear to fully buy into the methods and tactics of Rodgers, and so fans are similarly happy with what has transpired so far—transfer deadline day being the obvious and extremely notable exception.

    Genius. While Lucas Leiva is out injured, Brendan Rodgers is going to use the Brazilian as a scout for the club, out watching games.

    — Danny (@FormidableRed) September 6, 2012

Press Conferences

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    There is little to debate here: Brendan Rodgers has, since he arrived at the club, spoken with an honesty, sincerity and conviction that has been a boost to the club, a reassurance for supporters and a marker as to expectations for the players.

    Rodgers immediately put himself in a position of authority at the club, let media and viewers know that he was here for the long haul, put a system in place for years to come, not just for each Saturday (or Thursday-Sunday!) and has been respectful of Liverpool as an institution as well as being aware and cogent as to where they need to improve.

    An excellent insight into his workings was found in an organised meet-up with fans' websites and local production companies where Rodgers again spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about the project he has undertaken.

    Many managers might not have had the inclination or the patience to deal with supporters in such a direct and full-on method, but therein lies perhaps another advantage of a younger manager.

    Rather sensibly, the 39-year-old Rodgers kept a largely back-seat view of happenings during the recent Hillsborough disaster revelations until he was directly asked to comment on the matter as first-team coach, and again he spoke with respect and humility about the situation.

    So far so good with talking the talk, and we all know what the next step is which is ultimately more important.

    Listening to Brendan Rodgers speak you get the sense that his words could one day become immortalised in LFC folklore. Remind you of anyone?

    — Liam Tomkins (@liam_tomkins) September 6, 2012

Results

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    And so to what is ultimately the end-game for Liverpool and Rodgers?

    Tactics, talking and training are all well and good, but they have to manifest themselves into three points on the pitch at the weekend.

    So far Liverpool have failed to do that in the Premier League.

    Rodgers' competitive record reads: played seven, won three, drawn two, lost two—but those three wins came against FC Gomel (twice) and Hearts in the Europa League in games that the Reds were expected to win and games which every fan would swap for three points against Premiership heavyweights Arsenal and Manchester City.

    The horrendous opening-day defeat to West Brom was quickly forgotten with a fine display against Manchester City, though Liverpool were denied a win by a late defensive error—something that has been a feature of Rodgers' early tenure.

    Yes, the new methods will take time to implement. Yes, it's a very, very tricky start to the league campaign.

    But points on the board are what a lot of fans will look at, and nothing else, in deciding whether they back a manager.

    Is the on-pitch progress visible enough so far to justify the losses as par for the course when undertaking such a large sea change in the team? Some fans are of the opinion that it isn't—but the overwhelming majority seem to take the opposite and more positive view.

    Liverpool are going places on the pitch with Brendan Rodgers.

    It may take a couple of months for consistency in all areas of the pitch with players learning their new roles, but fans seem largely understanding of this and are willing to let these issues play themselves out, at least until the January transfer market when most will expect reinforcements.

    all i can say is the fact we're all feeling so gutted shows how quickly we have started playing so well. brilliant performance.

    — Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) August 26, 2012

Conclusions

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    Liverpool FC is very much a work in progress, on and off the field.

    Results have not yet yielded scorelines that fans and everybody else associated with the club want, but the overwhelming majority of supporters are firmly behind Brendan Rodgers and his ideas for the first team.

    Not everyone agrees with not every decision, which is perfectly fine—but that they continue to support the side, the players and coach, is evidence enough that Kopites believe in the direction the team is headed.

    A manager is always helped by players having a positive influence under his guidance and Raheem Sterling is evidence of this; plenty of others have been involved with his growth as a youngster over the years but it is Rodgers who handed him his first league start against Manchester City.

    Trust in players from a coach is as important as having the roles reversed, and fans are happy that those who are left at the club now are, for the most part, those who Rodgers believes can have an impact on the success of the team going forward.

    There are one or two notable exceptions of course who might not have a long-term future at Liverpool, but the squad now needs to be utilised fully to see the team through until January.

    Overall, it has been a very trying, testing and difficult start for Rodgers since arriving at Liverpool—but he has taken everything in his stride, not overreacted to demanding situations and, slowly but surely, is imposing his will on the playing side of the club.

    Fans appreciate and respect the work he is putting into the club as much as the quality they hope he will draw out of the playing staff—and for that, it has to be said that the new manager's early days at the club have been a success.