Liverpool: Why Liverpool's Early Season Slump Is No Reason for Panic

Max TowleAnalyst ISeptember 20, 2012

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02:  Brendan Rodgers the manager of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and  Arsenal at Anfield on September 2, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The work-in-progress Liverpool Football Club will not win the 2012/13 Premier League. It would take blind optimism to suggest otherwise.

Make no mistake, though, Brendan Rodgers is the right man for the job.

Whether it takes him two, three or even four years to turn the Reds into contenders, his philosophy and temperament is the right sort to lead one of England's most storied clubs into the future.

Lessons are being learned quickly under Rodgers and owner John W. Henry, with their transfer window deadline day baptism of fire the most notable footballing faux pas.

Quite what the club's backroom suits were thinking in their pursuit of Clint Dempsey is perhaps a question best left unanswered.

Every summer since 2009 has supposedly been one of "transition." In reality, many of the club's offseason moves have just thrown up more problems than solutions.

Nevertheless, from a managerial perspective, Rodgers' at-a-distance handling of the "Hillsborough" revelations last week was composed and dignified.

For all the criticism, one cannot deny the fact that Liverpool have actually looked quite decent in extended periods of all four of their opening games, even in the first half of the 3-0 horror-show at West Brom.

It took a Zoltan Gera cracker, and an unfortunate red card to prevent what could have been the perfect start to life under Rodgers.

Joe Allen's recent comments blaming the team's bad luck contained the right sentiment, even if he was perhaps a little hasty in decrying 'Pool's fortunes (via Daily Mail).

"We don’t want to start making excuses and putting too much down to luck but there’s definitely an element of that at the moment, you can’t deny it. It seems to take the opposition one chance to get a goal," were the Welsh midfielders words post-an underwhelming 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light, Saturday.

But despite the hex that still seems to be on the opposition woodwork, Liverpool have just not looked capable of putting the ball in the net as often as they should.

Luis Suarez looks close to being back to his best, though, and with new addition Fabio Borini showing signs of improvement in each of his appearances, patience must be stressed.

Full-backs Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson have both looked threatening options on either flank, the latter especially showing an excellent purpose and drive going forward, whilst l'enfant terrible Raheem Sterling has to be the most exciting teenager to hit Merseyside since Wayne Rooney.

The £15 million fee paid for Joe Allen that at first looked horribly inflated, has already been proven rather shrewd business in the wake of his early goings for the club.

He has controlled the midfield with assured confidence, sitting back to dictate the tempo with an unpretentious ease.

But there are still issues that need to be addressed; the lack of a true striker in the squad one of them.

You can say what you want about football matches being won in the middle of the park, but in reality, winning simply comes down to scoring more goals than your opponent.

The Reds are a breathless passing team with no end product. They may not be quite there yet, but if the long balls and lapses in concentration can be ironed out of their game, they will quickly become the most entertaining team to watch in the Premier League.

Finding someone to finish off the endless chances created by the midfield is a job that must wait until January.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this early season slump is how susceptible the team look in the face of effective counter attacks.

Their 1-1 draw at the weekend was symptomatic of the issues that have plagued Rodgers' side so far this season.

Sunderland's Steven Fletcher is exactly the type of player the Reds need, and they showed it by finishing off a simple break purely by being in the right place at the right time to give his team the lead.

Off the field, you have to feel that the "Being: Liverpool" documentary has come at exactly the wrong time for the Reds.

The British "Hard Knocks" equivalent is admirable in its attempts to showcase the down-to-earth nature of highly-paid footballers, but at its heart, it is essentially a well-made reality show pandering to an American audience.

The fact that it only seems to highlight arguably Britain's most historic and successful club's current malaise only adds to its untimeliness.

This is not the right time to take a snapshot of Liverpool Football Club in attempts to try and entice new fans across the pond.

If, like "Hard Knocks," it had come during the summer months between Premier League seasons, preferably after a successful campaign for the club, it would be a welcome relief for fans not just of Liverpool.

Because, like it or not, the Premier League only benefits from having Liverpool push for glory every season.

It is a club that deserves to be near the top of the table, rather than one struggling to separate itself from the country's mid-table regulars.

After all, the ideologies and history of Liverpool put the club at the zenith of the game. 

With Rodgers now at the helm, you can say that 'Pool are finally back on the right path, something you couldn't say during Hodgson or Dalglish's tenures.

Therefore, whatever happens, even if Liverpool finish 12th, Henry must show unwavering support for his manager.

Because Brendan Rodgers is the right man for the job, even if the results don't yet reflect the fact.


Follow @MaxTowle


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