Liverpool vs. Manchester United: Why Brendan Rodgers Can't Afford to Lose

Nathan JudahCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2012

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15:  Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (r) listens to coach Colin Pascoe before the Barclays Premier league match between Sunderland and Liverpool at Stadium of Light on September 15, 2012 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Sunday's derby does not need to be built up, the two teams and the ongoing rivalry in the North-west is more than enough before the media even start adding their own spin.

But for Brendan Rodgers, the grace period of being the new man at the helm has well and truly run out—much quicker than expected.

Results have been abysmal, new signings disappointing and the handing of current players, bemusing.

It is all well and good getting rid of the Dalglish era, but if you can’t replace what you already have with better quality, you have a major problem.

This club is used to success, they crave dominance and if fans or owners thought the previous regime could bring back the glory days to Anfield, they were truly mistaken.

Now of course, it’s early days under the current regime and there is no indication of Rodgers being under any pressure, but the fact that he rested basically his entire first team in midweek shows how important this game is to both him and the club—and quite rightly so.

The defeats have been hard to take and no matter how you dress it up, this start has been nothing short of disastrous with the Manchester City game being the only ray of light—a game they could only manage a draw despite holding the lead twice.

And while the name, the tradition and the passion will always be there no matter who is in charge,  you’re only as good as the players you put on the pitch.

Whether you’re the most optimistic or pessimistic Liverpool fan, both will probably agree that their current starting lineup does not have the fear factor it once did.

Luis Suarez is world-class but are there many more that are in that bracket?

Raheem Sterling looks a superstar in the making, but you cannot expect the teenager to deliver on a regular basis, as he is still learning his trade.

Steven Gerrard is a very good player, but he’s not the elite superstar he was three or four years ago—injuries and age are catching up with him.

Borini’s watershed moment could come this weekend if he has another bad game while Glen Johnson’s continued midfield jaunts from left-back should be quickly abandoned and returned to normal right-back duties; I'm not sure whether Martin Kelly is the answer 

The Andy Carroll situation was farcical and how he moved to West Ham on loan without a replacement is quite astonishing—heads should roll.

And although those heads should be in the back office, it is nearly always the manager who has to take responsibility.

Brendan Rodgers is a fantastic man manager and did a magnificent job at Swansea, however coaching Liverpool is a completely different beast altogether.

Plenty of people including Rodgers have made mistakes over the past three months and someone will be made accountable.

The Fenway Sports Group headed by J.W.Henry are not scared to make bold and swift decisions if things are not working out.

His Boston Red Sox are currently having one of the worst seasons on record after controversially appointing Bobby Valentine—it’s been nothing short of a disaster.

It’s almost a certainty that he will not be there next year and quite rightly so.

Brendan Rodgers seems to be following the same path and if Liverpool don’t wake up soon starting with Manchester United on Sunday, Mr Valentine might not be the only manager whose first season ends up being his last.

Check out my top English soccer picks this weekend!