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Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: December 23, 2013, 10:03:46 PM »
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers deserves our praise

A year of achievement has changed the Northern Irishman's image from grandiose, David Brent figure of mockery to a man of principle and substance

By Henry Winter

8:44PM GMT 23 Dec 2013

Rewind a year and Brendan Rodgers endured some belittling for his “new age” management, his aphorisms seeing him depicted as the David Brent of the dugout. Not now. People now see the substance to Rodgers’ style, his subtle and successful man management of Luis Suárez, his expert coaching of Jordan Henderson, his belief in youth seen in Jon Flanagan’s prominence and the exhilarating nature of Liverpool’s football. It is time to reappraise Rodgers and praise him.

Sayings that most annoyed listeners elicit a different reaction now that Rodgers’ managerial principles manifest themselves fully in players pushing for significant honours. When Rodgers remarked that he “started coaching for one reason and that was to make a difference for people, not just as footballers but as human beings’’ there were a few gasps.

It sounded rather grandiose from a coach whose main achievement had been only a promotion with Swansea City. Now it makes sense, capturing Rodgers’ ability to mould characters as well as players. He has turned Suárez from a toxic asset into a valued commodity respected even by rival fans.
Liverpool’s No 7 may transgress again but all around have noted the Uruguayan’s maturing, his desire to channel that edgy hunger properly. Through explanation and encouragement, Rodgers assists that change.
Quietly, Rodgers also challenges Suárez to become part of English footballing history for the right reasons, for breaking goalscoring records, not codes of conduct.

When Rodgers observed that “we play with 11 men while other teams play with 10 men and a goalkeeper” it sounded arrogant. Now those words encapsulate his footballing philosophy, a way of playing in keeping with Liverpool’s pass-and-move tradition, and bringing the best out of Suárez.
It is not all Suárez by the way. During Suárez’s suspension, Daniel Sturridge was voted Premier League Player of the Month for August while Rodgers scooped the managerial award. Liverpool currently deliver without the injured Sturridge and Steven Gerrard. Rodgers simply tweaks his team or brings in well-prepared understudies to maintain the momentum. They know what he wants. “Brendan has a brand; he’ll pass,’’ says Burnley’s Sean Dyche, who worked with Rodgers at Watford and admires his strength of footballing beliefs.
A careful plan is being put into operation at Anfield. Rodgers buys those such as Philippe Coutinho who suit his obsession with possession, inflicting on opponents “death by football”. There were doubts whether the slight Brazilian would cope with the physicality of the Premier League. Coutinho certainly looks at home now. Rodgers chose well. Joe Allen begins to justify the £15 million outlay.

Liverpool’s manager has made mistakes, and concerns remain over Fabio Borini and Iago Aspas while Nuri Sahin’s loan did not work out. Rodgers is fortunate to have good owners in John W Henry and Tom Werner.
As well as the flowing football, Rodgers’ players perform with a strong work ethic, the type instilled in him by his late father, who had him painting and decorating at a young age. “My father would work from dawn to dusk to ensure his young family had everything and I think you can see his philosophies in my team,’’ Rodgers said during his time at Swansea.

He sees the club as a family with everyone standing together. The team spirit engendered by Rodgers was demonstrated when Suárez squared the ball for Raheem Sterling to score against Cardiff City and the youngster immediately running to thank him.

Still those early maxims of Rodgers need revisiting. Bemusement followed his pronouncement that “the problem with being a manager is it’s like trying to build an aircraft while it’s flying’’. Now that Rodgers’ ideas are becoming reality on the pitch such statements will soon be staples in coach-education departments.
Rodgers is different. He is no Big Sam. He quotes Latin proverbs to his players. Addressing the media, Rodger is one of the most tactile managers I have met. He has always been quotable but now people appreciate the content properly. Discussing how he likes to train players, Rodgers once said: “You train dogs. I like to educate players.” Cue some hilarity. But he does educate players. Ask Henderson.
When Rodgers arrived at Melwood last year, the new manager sat down with the struggling midfielder. “We had conversations on what I needed to do to improve my game,’’ recalls Henderson. They also talked about whether the player should try a new start at Fulham. “I don’t want to go,’’ Henderson told Rodgers. “I want to fight for my place.’’ Impressed, Rodgers replied that if Henderson listened, learnt and improved, he would give him a chance. “He helped me to do better, always talking to me,’’ adds Henderson, now an integral part of the team.

Rodgers has put behind him that unfortunate documentary Being: Liverpool. He came over slightly oddly in the programme, leading to the Brent comparison. It is hard now to imagine Rodgers writing names in three envelopes of the players he felt “will let us down this year”.
Management is not a game show. Still only 40, Rodgers has acquired some gravitas. Now that his team are the talk of the town, Rodgers sounds increasingly like a spokesman for a managerial generation, addressing major issues. His words carry increasing weight. He berates the negative coaching that can inhibit English talent, questioning the point of St George’s Park if the philosophy isn’t right, demanding the removal of “fear” in nurturing youngsters.

Rodgers spoke powerfully in support of Malky Mackay, a former colleague at Watford. He spoke for all in football when calling to account Cardiff’s owner, Vincent Tan, as “a business guy who knows absolutely nothing about football”. Football Association and Premier League leaders would earn respect if they echoed Rodgers’ principled stance. He was embraced by an emotional, grateful Mackay after Saturday’s game at Anfield. Mackay will not forget that backing.

Rodgers is rising up to become a heavyweight of the managerial game. Harry Redknapp so respects him that he was going to ask Rodgers to help with the coaching at Euro 2012 if Redknapp got the England job. Jose Mourinho lauds his protégé. Rodgers himself is generous with advice, helping Dyche out last month.
Watford fans may disagree, following his sudden departure from Vicarage Road, but Rodgers is a man of principle. When Swansea defeated his old Reading side in the Championship play-off at Wembley in 2011, Rodgers was quick to console Brian McDermott and Sir John Madejski. Rodgers’ handling of this year’s Hillsborough developments and tributes further showed his substance as a man. Liverpool are in very good hands.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: November 03, 2013, 01:57:26 PM »
Theres alot been written and said in the media about yesterdays game but like last weeks win against West Brom I think results like these need to be taken with a bit of perspective. We were playing away to the leagues form team where we didnt play well, they did and we lost two nil. Its football, it happens. Same thing happened to Chelsea yesterday but they dont seem to attract the same media headlines that we do.

The truth is we are continually improving as a side. If whats on show on the pitch isnt a good enough barometer for that then you can look at our points tally this year compared to last. At the same point this season we have approximately twice as many points as last. Reflecting on some articles in todays papers its their job to analyse things to death. So after yesterdays performance the general consensus seems to be that we are not good enough to maintain a title challenge. Yet in six weeks time if we manage to maintain the start we've had to the season those same journo's will have selective amnesia about what they are saying today and we will be deservedly or not be back labelled as challengers.

So without going into any real analysis on yesterdays game I plan to take this one on the chin. We lost, we only played well in patches and the weaknesses in our side which have been evident from the outset were magnified that little bit more in the wake of yesterdays defeat. Were we to lose two or three in a row against any of our closest rivals it may be cause for concern but at the end of the day its just a 2 nil defeat without us learning too much that we didnt already know.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 18, 2013, 06:22:54 PM »
My presumption is that a young, technical, physical, possession oriented midfield is
the aim.


Henderson          Allen

But then where does Coutinho fit in, I mean I could switch
that round to

Henderson       Lucas


Obviously I've left Gerrard out to have a look. I agree totally with you
Tes on the difficulty of nailing down the single attribute which justifies
Allen's claim on a first 11 spot. It's easy with Lucas, he destroys the play
or Henderson, he has the energy. It seems and I don't mean to do him
down that Allen can pick a pass and retain possession. Thing is both
Lucas & Henderson can also do that and they are both more physical
than Allen.

Hence I don't see him as starting 11 in the short term and would think that he'd
have to develop something extra e.g. neither Henderson or Lucas are great at
scoring goals, but neither is Allen. I expect Henderson to be working on that side of
his game this season, so I think Allen is up against it but competition is healthy.

Although Allen isnt going to be a starter hes probably lucky hes vying for the one position that nobody is excelling in at the moment. If he stands any chance of getting game time its most likely going to happen in the centre of midfield. He has been mooted as a potential number 10 but I'm not sure he has the attributes for that position. At Swansea he was known for retaining possession but from what I have seen from his early days at the club just because he can retain possession doesnt necessarily mean he has an eye for a pass. I'm not saying he doesnt but he has yet to prove he does. Its one thing increasing your passing percentages by passing sideways and backwards which I found Allen seemed to do alot early on for us but its another thing to split defences which I havent witnessed yet.

As I was alluding to the centre of the park should be up for grabs. Gerrard is getting all of the plaudits for England at the moment but hes been miles off the pace for us so far this season. IF he continues as is he cant be guaranteed a first 11 spot anymore because we are being over run in midfield. Thats not to say his form wont improve. Lucas in my opinion has been better than Gerrard this season but only just. He needs to up his level too or he also cant be guaranteed a first team place. Henderson has being playing well, out of position. I have problems with his consistency and technical ability. I think he still needs to prove both. Saying that hes one of the most improved performers so far this season and realistically he should be the first name on the team sheet for the centre of the park right now when hes not needed elsewhere. So if Allen can come back fighting theres no reason he cant figure this season. Hes lucky hes not a centre back or forward because he'd probably be with Borini at Sunderland by now if he were.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 18, 2013, 06:06:43 PM »

It's hard to know exactly what sort of player he is and whether or how he would fit in to the midfield that Rodgers surely has plans for. I can't see that the way the midfield is at the moment is how Rogers wants it be. At least I'd hope not.

I suppose we just havent seen enough of him and what we have seen didnt live up to what had been expected. Whatever the reasons behind his poor form to date have to be put to one side and he can be afforded a clean slate. As I said in my previous post though I dont think he will get as long to prove himself this time around. If by the summer its the same story and we still havent been convinced I think then Rodgers will sell. Whatever anybody thinks of Rodgers they have to admit he isn't afraid to admit he made a mistake with a player. He has shipped Borini out pretty quickly and and anybody not consistently performing will probably suffer the same fate. 

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 18, 2013, 05:51:20 PM »

Given the start he's had with us it's
probably best to keep the pressure off him and give him some space to get
back on track. I think it's important that he gets the opportunity (on merit) to
show us what he can do, that we're a bit patient there.

To answer your question, I think what we saw at Swansea was a player
who'd quietly, under the radar, been allowed to develop (grow up with) an
evolving system which had reached a certain point of maturity - his comfort
zone. The switch to the big time (pressure/expectation) and the fact that he
was now playing with a group of players learning the system probably threw
him a bit and the injury to his shoulder hardly helped. It may be the case that
further down the line when more of the pieces are in place that there is a more
natural role for him in the team. I'd be waiting for him to be consistently coming
off the bench & making a difference to games (as opposed to making up the
numbers) before thinking of him in terms of first 11 though.

I think all of that's fair in the case of Allen. I suspect Rodgers hasnt written him off just yet. I'm not sure he will be afforded a gentle reintegration into the first team. I dont see him starting any games but thats just because hes down the pecking order but if Rodgers feels hes fit enough I think he will be thrown straight back in when necessary. Hes definitely better than what we've seen so far and I hope he isn't out of his depth. The fact that he was one of Rodgers key players at Swansea I think he will be afforded time. But by time I mean probably until the end of the season. If he hasnt shown at least some promise by then he could very well be shown the door.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 13, 2013, 05:25:42 PM »
Whether the hierarchy is reading our posts...but the placement of kenny, robbie, stevie mac and rob jones around the place is a good thing...

Agreed Bart. I often wonder why very few players from era's gone by get brought in to the club in certain capacities. Good to see the names you mentioned back.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 13, 2013, 05:23:18 PM »
As things stand Henderson is virtually undroppable in a midfield comprising
Lucas and Gerrard - both lacking natural athleticism (not saying Stevie doesn't
run around, just his contribution in that area is not sustained or effective enough
to be missed if he was out) . I see an opening for Allen as a replacement for
Gerrard around the 70 minute mark, in games where retention of possession
becomes key and breakneck 70 yard passes are less the order of the day.

It is somewhat unfortunate for him the way things have worked out, wouldn't
be surprised if his confidence has taken a bit of a knock. I don't see an automatic
starting role for him at the moment (I never did), he'll need to make the most of what
opportunities come his way now (work on his goal-scoring, in particular - not his strongest
suit) and show a lot of character.  Seems a decent guy, who's been a bit unlucky, so
I hope he at least gets the opportunity to show us what he can do.

Henderson is as you say undropable at the moment but Id still be wary of how consistent he can be. I dont doubt his engine but I do question his mentality and technical ability. Like you though I believe he warrants a place in the centre of our midfield. At the moment he would be the first name down on the teamsheet for that position.

Like you I also would like to see Allen get a chance to prove himself before hes considered surplus to requirements. Not many players have starts like hes had and survive at a club like this but I do hope he can buck the trend and prove he was worth the 15 million.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 10, 2013, 03:31:21 PM »
Agreed Martin I havent given up on Allen either. There must be huge question marks though hanging over his future at the club considering hes played so little. He has been a major disappointment to date. The centre of our midfield is easily now the weakest position in the team but Allen doesnt seem to be able to make any kind of  impression. I know hes been out injured but to be honest I wouldnt have even noticed had there not been pre match updates on the web that reminded me.

I havent given up on Lucas either. He hasnt come back the same player since injuring himself in that game at Stamford Bridge but up to that point he had proven the level he could reach and maintain so Ive hope he can get back there.

Its a little hypocritical of me really because I dont necessarily afford Skrtel the same reasoning. If Zenith were to come in with a 16 million bid in January thats being reported I would snap their hands off and take it.

We seem to have been linked with a move for Athleticos young Spanish midfielder Koke. I cant see the player wanting a move with Athletico playing as they are. One thing that is for sure at least Rodgers scouting network must be working because the players we tried to get and missed out on Costa and the Armenian lad seem to be doing well for their respective clubs.   

As for Sterling I still have high hopes for him but I think he has a lot of work to do to fulfill the potential he showed in recent years.

The team you have chosen there is definitely very strong. Im an Agger fan so I would have him automatically starting beside Toure. Sakho still has to earn his start but I would certainly prefer a back 4 that includes only two centre backs.

Looking forward to the positions that hypothetically need to be filled in the next few transfer windows. Central midfield is priority. I still think Suarez will go regardless of Champions league. It might be Bayern, Barca or Real Madrid but once one of the super clubs come in for him again I think he could be off. So hes someone we will have to replace. Costas price will have sky rocketed considering hes already got 10 league goals so we will probably have to look elsewhere. Im not sure whether we have adequate cover at left and right back yet. Time will tell. And whether we need to strengthen out wide or behind the forwards may depend on how Suso Ibe and Sterling develop in the next couple of seasons.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 09, 2013, 11:54:35 PM »
In fact Suso could go from being further down the pecking order than Sterling at the club to jumping ahead of him if this seasons loan at Almera goes okay. I cant see Sterling getting too many minutes so Suso could come back closer to being a first team regular. I dont see it happening because our squad isnt good enough but it may be worth our while getting Sterling out in loan in January.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 09, 2013, 11:47:11 PM »
Sterling may have pace and some level of ability but it won't be fashioned into a useful product until he improves his decision making and becomes much more tactically aware. He looks like a player who needs to go out loan and play regular first team football. At this stage he isn't at the level we need him to be at.

Both Suso and Alberto are far more tactically aware, as a lot of Spanish youngsters tend to be, and if possible, Alberto should be getting pitch time ahead of Sterling at the moment.

Agreed Tes. I think he needs to mature a bit on top of all of that. Trouble has a habit of finding him and I get the impression thats largely his own doing. A club will only take so much crap. The reason Suarez is still here is because his undeniable talent. Sterling is still just potential and until he starts fulfilling that talent his future at the club is never certain. As you say a season on loan could be exactly what he needs.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 06, 2013, 08:53:18 PM »
In an ideal world, the back two would be Agger and Skrtel, with Sakho & Toure
chomping at the bit. He sidelined Martin in favour of Carra for half of last season,
if he does similarly the first half of this season using Toure, he'd need to justify
that with results and solid defensive displays (if it aint broke!).

Luckily the injuries at the back have contrived to make the current selection choice
easier for him & as you say he may use Johnson slightly further forward and stick
with 3 at the back in the short-term. But then we look a bit unbalanced (overloaded at
the back imo) if Lucas comes back in...

I think he needs to sit down with Skrtel and sort it out. Say to him, I'm putting my faith in
you, now prove me right!

The advantage there is Martin doesn't push for an exit at Christmas (which he could easily unless
there's serious momentum about our challenge), but is kept on his toes & Toure is ready to
jump in and there for the entire campaign as opposed to wearing himself out or getting injured.
Sakho will surely find opportunities as the season wears on and just needs to be reassured that
his day will come and to pick up as much as he can in the meantime and be ready when called

I'd keep in simple with:

Johnson, Skrtel Agger, Enrique

Meantime, thought Hendo did his chances of inclusion in the World Cup squad no harm
today. No doubt the watching England manager (em, Roy f**king Hodgson) will have
noted his energy and growing authority today - even if it was at home to Palace. Needs
to stick a picture of Graham Souness up in his locker and grow a moustache!

What I liked about today was the two big athletic but technical 23 year-olds in the team
(Hendo & Sakho), need at least another two of them to be a credible force in the league.

Id agree with that back five with the exception of Skrtel. Hes capable of putting in great displays but I find him to be often poor at defending set pieces and error prone. Toure looks calmness personified and long may Man City keep spending money if they are going to let players like him walk away on a free. Hendersons a bit of a mystery. Hes got a great engine but technically he can be lacking. But it may not be inconceivable that he could warrant starting in front of Gerrard going forward. I think Stevies place in the team is a given but I'm not sure how much longer that can be guaranteed.

Another good weekend with Arsenal and Spurs dropping points. I cant see any team going unbeaten from here on out so hopefully that bodes well for our top 4 chances.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 05, 2013, 08:12:44 PM »
The more we win the quieter this place seems to get. Are there any posters left?

Good win today. We were always expected to win this one comfortably but maybe in previous years this is where we wouldve left two points behind. For me the most impressive thing about the team at the moment is that we have the potential to score from a number of different sources. We can no longer be labelled a one man team. I still dont think we are capable of winning the title yet. I'm hugely impressed by Toure and Id love to see himself and Agger start at the heart of defence but I'm not sure Rodgers knows quiet how to accommodate all of the players in that department without resorting to three centre backs.   

Its a pity the international break halts our momentum once again but on the other hand it probably gives us time to get some injured players back in the fold.

Looking at the table its shaping up to be the closest top 4 contest in the Premier League yet not even to mention who is going to win the league. I still think its Citys or Chelseas to lose but maybe another 5 or 10 games will be the true judge of that.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: An interesting Debate
« on: October 04, 2013, 12:17:13 AM »

The fact that we're still mentioning defensive issues, and leaving a player with that much space, in your six yard box, of all places, from a set piece, of all situations, is school boy stuff. That's worrying.

For me that depends Tes. If the defensive issues continued long into the season Id tend to agree but at the moment Im still hoping we can iron things out. Theres no doubt Enriques mistake cost us at United in the cup and the defence has looked shaky since Sakho entered the fray but gladly we have still managed to pick up points in the league. Its a case of wait and see.

With reagrds to cups, europe and goals for the season I think qualification for the Champions league has to take top priority. With the way United, City and Chelsea have started there may be no better time to capitalise and throw the cat amongst the pigeons for other clubs. Like who knows what that would mean to the likes of City or Chelsea if the financial fair play rules were implemented properly. However I dont think you can just choose when you want your team to perform so we have to go out to play the best we can week in week out. Unfortunately for us the loss to United means thats one less competition we get to compete in but I have no issues in how we approached the league cup this season.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: An interesting Debate
« on: October 04, 2013, 12:03:00 AM »
Dunno, West Brom went to OT a few days later & got a result.
We didn't seem able to go there and get a result. This notion
that the performance matters in a knockout cup competition
is barmy.

In all fairness though Ed its still Man United at Old Trafford and it wasn't like we were beaten off the park. I agree performance doesnt necessarily matter in cup competitions. In fact performance doesnt necessarily matter in the league if you can manage to win the thing but I do still think our chances were always going to be 60/40 in Uniteds favour that night, 50/50 at best. 1 nil away to the Mancs doesnt serve us up with much to analyse in terms of our own grander picture.

In general our performance in cup competitions has been woeful.

I agree we havent been the best in cups. I think Rodgers admitted as much this season that he had neglected to treat the league cup with respect last season and we were beaten by swansea. Likewise we didnt do much better in the FA cup and we were done by Oldham. In fairness to Rodgers I think its taken him the first season to realise that this club aspires to win everything it enters. Thats why I think he fielded full teams in both cup rounds this season. He certainly didnt disrespect the cup this year and I'm not sure what he couldve done differently.

In terms of the league being the bread and butter and all of that, that may be the case if your winning it regularly enough but like you suggest thats nonsense when your not. I can see why qualifying for the CL is seen as more of an attractive proposition nowadays. It generally means more revenue, better players and those big European nights at Anfield. The domestic Cups are definitely not treated like they used to be by fans in general. But as Kenny alluded to theres nothing better than a day out at Wembley. Its just a pity that the powers that be couldnt offer added incentive to ensure the cups get the respect they deserve.

Liverpool FC, football, sport / Re: 2013-2014 Season
« on: October 02, 2013, 02:56:11 PM »
I tink he's stuck somewhere 4 seasons ago! - probably went into
shock when hodge lost the gig...

Meanwhile you have to laugh  ;D

What I'm waiting for is Grandpa to have to come out & plead
with the supporters to give Moyes time (I feel another defeat
this week could tip some of their more pampered/deluded
supporters over the edge). Joke club.  ;D

Its amazing how things can turn into a crisis overnight. Fergie won the league at a canter last season. Their dip in form has been even greater than anticipated. People talk about ageing players and lack of summer signings but I dont buy that for a second. Theres no doubt Rio and Vidic cant go on forever but its no co-incidence that the minute Fergie goes so does the teams consistency. He gave average squads the belief that they were world beaters and in fairness it worked. Whatever way he managed his teams I genuinely believe he was often the cause for his team to be 20 points plus better off than they should have been and last season was no different.

Whats great to see is United finally have someone mortal in the dugout and as you predicted Ed grandpa was out today saying Moyes needed time.

I still think United and Moyes will get it right sooner rather than later. We just have to ensure that we are winning every time they slip up. Talk of crisis is definitely been peddled by the media and impatient fans but if we could gatecrash the top 4 and keep United out of it in the process then there could be genuine cause for concern for them. Until then unfortunately I still expect to see them surging up the table.

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