Liverpool: Has the Brendan Rodgers Project Already Failed?
In the past decade, Liverpool fans have seen their fair share of "revolutions."
In 2004, Rafa Benitez brought in a Spanish revolution and duly delivered a European Cup. When his form dipped, Roy Hodgson was brought in to shake things up, fresh from guiding Fulham to the Europa League final.
Some 31 games and 10 losses later, the Hodgson revolution was toppled and a new ruler emerged: King Kenny. After bringing in the homegrown (and disproportionately priced) talents of Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson—and despite delivering three Wembley appearances—Dalglish's second reign lasted just one-and-a-half seasons.
Which brings us to the current regime: The Rodgers Revolution, which came to power last June.
His arrival came with much promise. He was the man who brought glamorous Barcelona-esque tiki-taka football to the relatively unglamorous surrounds of Swansea. Pass-and-move was set to become the Liverpool groove once again.
Once again, however, the revolution at Anfield hasn't been particularly revolutionary.
Liverpool have suffered 11 defeats in all competitions this season. They are 29 points behind in a title race that they were a part of not so long ago. They have lost to West Brom, Stoke and Aston Villa in recent months and sit ninth in the league, having not beaten any of the teams above them.
Furthermore, Liverpool haven't been in a league position this bad after 26 games in 20 years. In the inaugural Premier League season (1992/93), they were 13th at this stage and finished in sixth place.
All things considered, most Koppites would probably take that final finishing place in this campaign.
To expect a revolution overnight is unrealistic, but surely Liverpool's fans and owners expect more than they are currently getting from a team that has had such high expectations over the years. From the perspective of a Fenway Sports Group Investor, the Northern Irish coach appears to be failing.
To his credit, he has successfully implemented a passing game. He isn't afraid to give youngsters a chance and often experiments with moving players to different positions with success. The Reds are just eight points off securing European football next season, which is not an impossible deficit.
Yet the weaknesses of his system have all too frequently been exposed. There is no backup plan when his tiki-taka pressing game is unsuccessful. They are beaten by teams with a fast counter-attack and out-muscled by physical teams with less sophisticated tactics.
Pass-and-move was an essential tenet of the 80s Liverpool side, but often the tiki-taka buildup gives teams the time they need to organize defensively, and crucially, it often fails to produce goals.
It's great that youngsters like Suso, Jono Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen get first-team experience, but at times it seems the team simply does not have the calibre of players required to successfully execute Rodgers' system.
Off the field, Rodgers has also shown some questionable man management. Admonishing Luis Suarez for diving was the kind of move Arsene "see no evil, speak no evil" Wenger would never dream of. Even though it was copied from Alex Ferguson, the "three envelopes" trick we saw on Being: Liverpool seemed like the kind of clumsy technique that David Brent would learn on a provincial middle-management course.
Essentially, though the Rodgers Revolution is failing, it has not yet failed.
The ship can be put back on course, but the type of system Rodgers is implementing needs time.
Sadly, time is something that the Northern Irish coach probably doesn't have.
FSG were fairly ruthless with the dismissal of Kenny Dalglish and have shown no qualms with bringing in new managers to get Liverpool back into highest tier of Premier League sides (what was known as the "Big Four" five years ago).
Hopefully, he will get the time he needs to turn things around, but the success of the Rodgers revolution may ultimately depend on the fickleness of the club's owners.
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