Saturday 20 January 2018

Brendan Rodgers’ five biggest blunders as Liverpool boss

Brendan Rodgers is under pressure at Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers is under pressure at Liverpool

Tom Rooney

As Brendan Rodgers’ position as Liverpool manager looks increasingly more tenuous, it seems as though the time is right to reflect on some of the more ill-advised decisions he’s made during his topsy-turvy tenure.

Mario Balotelli (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Fair enough, it’s an obvious one, but as good a place as any to start. As Rodgers looked to reinforce his attacking options in the aftermath of Luis Suarez’s move to Barcelona, he made some interesting acquisitions, including Southampton duo Ricky Lambert and Adam Lallana, but it was the purchase of Balotelli from AC Milan in late August that raised the most eyebrows.

That Rodgers believed he could tame a player that had proved too difficult a proposition for Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini could indicate he was a very confident or desperate man at the time.

With Suarez gone and Daniel Sturridge injured, Liverpool could not replicate the attacking verve which saw them push Manchester City very close for the Premier League crown the previous season. Perpetual formation tinkering and a failure to bed in his new signings, meant Rodgers was regularly fielding questions over his job security.

It was Balotelli, though, who most personified Liverpool’s swift fall from grace. In 28 largely lacklustre appearances he scored just four times and, by all accounts, proved a corrosive presence in the dressing-room.

2. Playing Raheem Sterling as a wing-back

Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling during their Liverpool days

This, of course, is a hugely divisive topic, but a poignant one. As Rogers sought to rebuild Liverpool’s offensive play, he experimented with innumerable systems and formations, often to the confusion of pundits, fans and, even players.

The strangest of which, was the deployment of Sterling as an all-encompassing wide-man in a 3-5-2. Sterling had shone as winger and number 10 in the previous season, and shown himself to be one of most exciting young talents in the league. Indeed, the virtually unplayable Suarez did make all those around him look infinitely better.

Though, with Uruguayan gone, and Sturridge convalescing, Rogers conceivably could have turned to Sterling as his marquee attacker. Instead he positioned him where his gifts of speed and vision would never be fully utilised. From there, the 20-year-old’s unfortunate and protracted move to Man City began to unfold before our eyes.

3. His failure to buy quality defenders

Liverpool's Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel

In total, Rodgers has brought in 31 players, most of who have struggled to make any meaningful impact at Anfield. First off, can Simon Mignolet or Adam Bogdan be considered a safe pair of hands for a club with the Liverpool’s proclaimed ambitions – probably not?

Kolo Touré, Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno have all been found wanting to varying degrees, whether they be in a three, four or five man unit.

4. Liverpool’s horrendous showing in the Champions League

Raheem Sterling in action against Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo

Liverpool’s latest foray into European football’s elite competition was deflating and, ultimately, embarrassing.  In a group comprising Real Madrid, Basel and Ludogorets, the Mersey-siders were expected to progress in the runners-up position. Instead, they finished second from bottom, with just a single win to their name.

5. No accountability

Brendan Rodgers (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

For a guy who never has any problem with singing his own praises when his latest tactical shift manages to pay-off, Rodgers has been all too reticent to shoulder any blame when Liverpool have been found wanting.

Instead, he has asked for more time, while never once accepting his own culpability for Liverpool’s insipid form, no more so than this season.

Online Editors

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