Football

Brendan Rodgers deserves no blame for Liverpool's poor season

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Twelve months ago Brendan Rodgers was elected Manager of the Year and had come a few unstable steps away from Liverpool's first league title in nineteen years.

Now he is waiting nervously to be told whether Fenway Sports Group intend to dispense with his services after a disastrous campaign. So, where did it all go wrong for the Northern Irishman?

You cannot look past Liverpool’s summer signings as a clear explanation for his sharp fall from grace, but can the former Swansea City boss' tactics also be called into question?

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There is no doubt that players such as Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Mario Balotelli have failed to fill the attacking void left by Luis Suarez. Lallana has looked inconsistent and Markovic out of his depth.

The less said about Balotelli probably the better. Defensive acquisitions of Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno have been further disappointments.

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Despite these players failing to perform why was it that Rodgers has failed to learn from his mistakes? A difficult start to the campaign was almost forgotten as Liverpool went on an impressive run from Christmas through to March.

A string of wins put Liverpool in a position to challenge for the top four and Champions League qualification, thanks largely to a timely tactical reshuffle. The change to a 5-3-1 formation gave Liverpool solidarity in defence and the opportunity for incisive players such as Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling to attack with less constraints.

Emre Can and Martin Skrtel were looking like top Premier League defenders and the rewards were visible with consecutive wins over Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Manchester City.

Crucially in this system players such as Markovic and Moreno were shedding some light on the club’s decision to pay as much as money as they did for their services.

The question has to be asked why did Rodgers change his set up? Sterling and Jordan Henderson being played at right wing back before a switch back to a four man defence spelled the end to Liverpool’s form and their bid to play in next season’s Champions League.

The injuries suffered by Daniel Sturridge, Mamadou Sakho and the emerging Jordan Ibe did little to help Rodgers’ cause while the suspensions of Steven Gerrard and Skrtel following the 2-1 loss to Manchester United in March left Liverpool further vulnerable.

However, Rodgers leaves himself open to criticism. Decisions to start Sterling as a lone striker and start the error-prone Kolo Toure against Arsenal in a must win fixture were rash. Furthermore the introduction of Rickie Lambert in four of Liverpool’s final five games of the season truly showed the difference in the team from last year to this year.

The aggressive, front footed, counter attacking football spearheaded by Suarez last season appeared a distant memory.

The blame should not be dumped at Rodgers’ door though. The clubs transfer committee let him down. The players brought in to replace the irreplaceable Suarez play with totally contrasting styles and were not of the standard to ever expect the 31 goals scored by the Uruguayan last season.

Rodgers is involved with transfers and has his say but Managing Director Ian Ayre, Head of Analysis Michael Edwards and Head of Recruitment Dave Fallows also decide who should be signed and where funds should be allocated, sometimes not where Rodgers would like.

This coupled with the absence of Daniel Sturridge, to which Rodgers cannot be blamed, meant Liverpool were never in a position to compete in a 57-game season.

Gerrard announcing his departure so early on deflated the club while the everlasting Sterling saga will have only made Rodgers’ job even harder.

This season was never going to be easy, but with a clean bill of health and the right signings Rodgers is more than capable of taking Liverpool into the Champions League.

However these sound like excessive demands for Liverpool with the incoming Divock Origi being given the dubious honour of being named in Ligue 1’s ‘Worst Team of the Year’ and Sturridge looking more fragile than ever.

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Topics:
Raheem Sterling
Football
Premier League
Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers

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