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Jonjo Shelvey's Red Mist Blocks Rodgers' Progress and Keeps Liverpool Anchored

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23:  Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on September 23, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Wyn EvansContributor IIINovember 21, 2016

So, October's looming and the Liverpool "new breed" sit uncomfortably in the English Premier League relegation zone, 11 points adrift of the summit and still awaiting a first League win of the season.

Supporters talk of promising signs, young players getting their chance and Europa League victories. Those victories, of course, came over moderate opposition from Belarus and Switzerland and one has to ask, would the “big four”, Tottenham, Newcastle or even Everton, be remotely satisfied with such a report card at this stage of the campaign? Patently not.

Without doubt they were by far the better side in the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United. Even down to 10 men they bossed the game for long periods, and were it not for the theatrics of Luis Suarez when felled in the box, they’d have been given a deserved penalty. But do we sense a theme emerging here?

One of "so near yet so far" or "we were robbed"?

Only time will tell whether the white-hot passion demonstrated against United was a spin-off from the moving and impeccable tributes following the Hillsborough report. But few, I’m sure, would disagree that the upcoming games against Norwich and Stoke must provide a full six points to lever the Reds up the table and soften the dissenting whispers. To suggest they don’t occur at every club across the country—Liverpool included—is naive and unhelpful in the extreme. The name "Roy Hodgson" should  quickly prick that particular balloon, not to mention the dethroning of "King" Kenny Dalglish!

On the field, the one glaring area of concern is goal scoring. I’ve frequently questioned the wisdom of how quickly Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll were allowed to leave the club, manager Brendan Rodgers saying on last week’s Channel Five documentary Being Liverpool it would take something “amazing” for Carroll to leave. 

With the very rapid onset of that amazement allied to Craig Bellamy going to Cardiff, the Anfield striking cupboard has been left woefully bare.

The employment of Fabio Borini on the flanks has left him looking a pale shadow of the potent occupant of “the hole” he was at Swansea, while the issue of Luis Suarez raises concern on two fronts. Firstly his volatility and aforementioned penalty-box theatrics are all but guaranteed to draw red and yellow cards from referees with consequent suspensions of varying durations. And the real disaster scenario for both manager and supporters between now and January would be a long-term injury for the Uruguayan.

As the roster falls short of sufficient top-quality midfielders to employ the "strikerless" format favoured by Spain at Euro 2012, either Borini would be thrust forward or the manager forced to recruit a “free agent.” By this time of year any player of quality in that particular column will have been snapped up elsewhere, so the omens appear less than favourable there.

Liverpool last week laboured past Young Boys of Switzerland before having a truly refreshing display blunted and nullified by Sir Alex Ferguson’s “Old Boys.” It’s surely just a matter of time until Liverpool head north up the EPL table. However, as anyone connected in any way with that particular League will tell you, time can be a cunningly deceptive and mercurial quality there, and has carried many a well-intentioned managerial victim with it.

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