By Séamus Leonard
I haven’t watched much of “Being: Liverpool.” My primary reason for avoiding it is that it doesn’t seem prudent to let cameras intrude at a club that desperately needs to rediscover a lost and proud tradition of conducting its business behind closed doors. It is also disturbing that Liverpool Football Club would agree to work with Fox, for obvious reasons.
But one of the snippets I’ve encountered is a scene where manager Brendan Rodgers takes young full back Jon Flanagan aside during pre-season and urges the teenager to play to his strengths. Rodgers reckons the emerging defender is more effective when he plays behind the ball, allowing him to read the game better. He tells the Scouser that his strengths are “simple”.
It is an apt word, as it seems a lot of what has gone on since Rodgers’ appointment in June has been unnecessarily complicated.
The introduction of a new manager inevitably leads to upheaval in any club, but the onus is on the new man at the helm to judge what was working and what was not working in the previous regime. It would appear that Rodgers failed to assess the former. Liverpool had the joint third best defensive record last season alongside Everton (both conceded 40 goals), with only Manchester City (29) and Manchester United (33) proving more watertight at the back. The impressive rearguard record owed much to Steve Clarke’s coaching abilities. That the wily Scot was seemingly tossed overboard with so little thought was a huge mistake.
The summer transfer window disaster has been well documented, but it could have been so easily avoided. Rodgers just had to insist that any deal to take Andy Carroll away from Anfield could not be signed off on until the ink had dried on a contract to bring a replacement senior striker in.
And the latest puzzling development has been Rodgers’ recent policy on the left flank. Jose Enrique – a full back by trade – has been pushed forward into a winger’s role. Behind him, bizarrely, has been Stewart Downing. The lack of basic positioning sense from the former Aston Villa winger was a major factor in Tottenham’s first goal in the 2-1 league defeat at White Hart Lane last week.
I am assuming that Liverpool supporters have not sunk to the depths of their Chelsea counterparts and that they will not start calling for the head of a capable and amiable manager before he has had a reasonable amount of time to prove himself. After all, we are not a bunch of plastic flag waving fans. We are a far better breed. But Liverpool still has a talented squad that has the ability to be a lot higher than 11th in the EPL. Improvement will come, but probably too late to secure a top four finish in what is as weak an EPL as has been seen for some time.
Rodgers has a difficult job on his hands, and dedicated fans of the Reds will back him when tough decisions have to be made. All they ask is that he starts calling the blindingly obvious ones correctly.