Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Faces, Old Results

A new manager, a new project, a new vision. The result? More of the same-old same-old.

No rewards here for guessing which club is the topic of today's piece (the photo on the right was a dead giveaway itself).

Yes, meet Brendan Rodgers, the man whose arrival at Liverpool was greeted by bemusement laced with the mild-optimism that is reluctantly bestowed upon every new manager that has been appointed to the hot seat at Anfield.

With the exception of Kenny Dalglish, of course, who incidentally was the man Rodgers was brought in to replace. It's no easy task filling in the shoes of a fan favourite. The task is made all the more harder when your managerial resume only includes Swansea and Reading.

Still, there was some reason -even if it felt foolhardy at times - to believe Rodgers had what it took to turn things around or, more importantly, accomplish what Dalglish, Roy Hodgson and Rafa Benitez had all failed to do.

Rodgers' ability to instill a formidable playing method at Swansea with much success played a big role in convincing John Henry and the rest Fenway Sports Group that the Northern Irishman was the manager they needed to revive an ailing giant.

Nevermind the fact that the comparisons of Swansea's passing game to Barcelona's were a tad bit exaggerated. The fact is, Rodgers was able to create a style that was more continental than English at a newly promoted club and led them to an 11th place finish in the league.

More impressive was the fact that Rodgers was able to achieve this with a team that largely comprised - sorry Swansea fans - mediocre footballers. To FSG, the potential was limitless. If Rodgers can do this with the players he had at Swansea, imagine what he'd be able to do if he was given a couple of stars and a competitive budget?

In theory, Rodgers made absolute sense to FSG instead of someone like Louis Van Gaal or Fabio Capello or even Pep Guardiola.

Unfortunately, as Rodgers and FSG were to later find out on the opening weekend of the new season, that there's no real easy fix at Liverpool. Sure, there were some fleeting moments of fluid passing but as soon as the first goal went in, along went the team's confidence.

Once again, the team on the pitch resembled the same team under Dalglish, Hodgson and Benitez: wasteful and bereft of ideas.

Rodgers can surely lament some of the questionable decisions that went against his men but the truth of the matter is that Liverpool once again failed to convert their dominating possession to goals - a popular theme at the club over the past three to four seasons.

Reds captain, Steven Gerrard is right when he says it's too early to push the panic button but given the way things have started, Rodgers must surely be wondering what he's got himself into. And with just over a week left of the transfer window and Europa league qualifiers and a Man City home game coming up, he doesn't have time on his side. He may just end up resorting to a famous tactic of Dalglish' last season - pray that Liverpool's luck on the pitch miraculously changes.