Brendan Rodgers and the Rolling Bus – Has the Liverpool Manager thrown his team under it?
Ever since that crushing defeat against Chelsea last year that effectively ended the Reds hopes of lifting the Premier League title, Brendan Rodgers has found himself tripping up over his own words. From the arrogant way he dismissed Jose Mourinho’s ability to set up a team to defend, to the way that he claimed that Tottenham Hotspur should have challenged for the title based on the money they spent, the Liverpool manager has found himself in a rather trying position.
Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool
A poor transfer window in the summer saw the inevitable exit of Luis Suarez, and the introduction of a whole host of players who simply have not worked. The likes of Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Mario Balotelli were all supposed to be sure-fire starters who would improve the Liverpool squad comprehensively; each have disappointed in their own way. Whilst Lallana has mostly impressed in the games he has played, his injury record has been frustrating and stopped him from making an impact. Balotelli has worked out the way most cynics believed it would, and Lovren has been an absolute shambles from start to finish. Without exaggerating, the Reds would be lucky to recoup a quarter of what they paid for what looks like the worst defender Liverpool have had in many a year. The iconic photo at the weekend, when Yannick Bolasie destroyed the big Croat, showed Brendan Rodgers standing with his head in his hands as Lovren made yet another ridiculous decision to try and clean out the Congolese winger.
However, these are just three signings – others such as Alberto Moreno, Javi Manquillo and Lazar Markovic were all supposed to add a youthful effervescence to the side that would keep them ticking along nicely. Manquillo has more or less been posted missing and Moreno has suffered an indifferent season, but it’s the Markovic decision that tries this writers patience the most.
With the shift to the three at the back formation that LFC have employed since the tail-end of last year, it’s understandable why Moreno and Manquillo have tailed off. Moreno, despite being a forward thinking defender, probably lacks the positional awareness and the composure to ply a wing-back position. It’s something that many players have also rarely, if ever, played in a senior game.
A youngster struggling in a new league, in a new club, whilst playing in a new position? It’s hardly a massive surprise. Likewise this problem exists in a similar vein for Manquillo, albeit expectations weren’t quite as high.
But now to the story of Lazar Markovic. Signed in the summer as a quality wide player who could do a job in the middle forward positions, it was well regarded that the Reds had done exceedingly well to get the little Serb in. His enigmatic dribbling and phantom-like ability were there for all to see during a Europa League run that went all the way to the Final for his previous club, Benfica. Signed at the age of just 20, Markovic was brought in to be a player who could become the “next big thing” for the Anfield club.
So, why has Brendan Rodgers spent the majority of the season doing everything he can to displace Markovic?
Brendan Rodgers on player positioning
First off, given the previous point on wing backs, is it any surprise that Markovic never took the world by storm from that position? He’s not even a defender! He’s a forward thinking wide player who can play in the middle, not a wing-back. Rodgers has, on several occasions, hung the youngster out to dry with his press comments too. Playing someone in the wrong position and then slating them in the media is a shocking dereliction of responsibility, and shows a lack of maturity on his part. Markovic was recently slated for playing a “poor” pass to golden kid Raheem Sterling away at the Emirates. Markovic weighted a fine pass to Sterling, who lost his composure and never made the most of the opportunity.
Rather than say nothing, Rodgers decided to hang Markovic out to dry and blamed him for over-hitting the pass. To defend the other kid in the squad who has spent 2015 making a fool of Rodgers and his decision making. Raheem Sterling has hit a toxic point in his LFC career, yet Rodgers still spends more time talking him up than anyone else in the squad. It smacks of a small-time mentality, as he’s obviously decided that Sterling can do as he pleases without any reprimand. Add in the fact that he drops other players for far less than what Sterling does (stink the place out on the pitch, annoy everyone possible off of it) it’s really hard to see where he is coming from a lot of the time.
I like Rodgers, personally, and have done since he was first appointed at Liverpool. However, the age-old “Brenton” side to him as returned in full swing this season with toe-curling sound bites. Add in the rather excruciating way that he handles precocious talents like Lazar Markovic (whilst letting Sterling make a fool of him and the club with his demands) shows a systematically poor level of management.
As a massive fan of Markovic, it beggars belief that he has been turned into some poor wing-back and then thrown under the bus. Add in Mamadou Sakho, Mario Balotelli (arguably the most acceptable given his attitude to life in general) and even Martin Skrtel to the mix and you’ve got a group of players who have at once stage or another been ostracised by Brendan for petty reasons, or sidelined because of personality problems (going on what you read elsewhere). It’s a terrible situation for Brendan Rodgers, and turning the situation around from here can be extremely difficult given the two-faced nature of his management.