Cpt_Reina and I had a blether

Posted by Mr Dilkington on November 2, 2012, 07:36:29 PM

Mr Dilkington

It's Monday the 29th of October, the day after the derby draw, which should have been a win. Liverpool have played 9 games in the league, 3 in the Europa League proper, and 1 in the Carling cup. That's 13 games to scrutinise and pick holes out of. To start things off... a pretty general question: have things turned out as you expected thus far?


I tried to come in to the season with no real expectations, but I did believe some things might come to pass.

Year zero has a phrase oft heard during the summer when the coaching set up was being ripped apart, and then sellotaped back together. We were told it was a brave new dawn with that whole committee thing that never manifested itself. Turns out it was being overstated a little. But it was a new dawn nonetheless.

And so I decided I might as well go along with it.

Rodgers is a very young coach, we have a very young club in so many ways. From the owners being inexperienced to the players from the academy being drafted in to plug gaps in the squad. It's all a bit raw.

So the 'year zero' thing makes sense. If not for the radical new approach, that turned out to not be so radical. Then for the premise that this is the first year of a similar project. But one with a long term outlook.

I thought we'd struggle to score goals, and we have. I thought Rodgers would make mistakes, and I believe he has. I assumed that it'd take time for things to get moving, and it is.

But most of all I hoped that we'd learn things this season. I hoped we'd learn which young players would be able to step up to the mark. I hoped to learn something about our manager, whether he was too wedded to his 'system' or whether like all truly great coaches he could adapt. I hoped we'd learn whether he can make the big calls.

That learning process is ongoing. Answers are slowly appearing in the middle distance for some of the questions and others are increasingly veiled in the autumnal fog that's creeping in.

Last season, for all that I love Kenny and feel he should have been given longer, I felt like we were no longer learning anything. The team was making the same mistakes and expecting different results. Perhaps it's only superficial, but I do feel a bit of a momentum shift in that respect.

It's definitely interesting. And seeing as ive not come in 'expecting' anything I dont feel let down nor do I feel especially empowered. But im definitely interested.

Mr Dilkington

I think that's the key point here. Most of the fan base seem to accept that this project is going to take time. Hopefully it remains that way, because things grow much more organically that way I find; also there's less thumping of hands and feet when things don't go our way. I suppose the fact that we are regularly starting with three teenagers in Suso, Sterling, and Wisdom forces a bit of perspective amongst the fans. What were your expectations going into the season, and have they changed after what we've seen so far?


All I expect is that by the end of the season Rodgers has an understanding of how to get to where he wants to be.

That'll include all manner of things. The kids are providing as many questions as they are answers at the minute. Sterling has come in and looked the part right off the bat. But what does that mean for the transfer window(s). Does it mean Rodgers can forget about that left wing now that he's impressed there and Assaidi has looked lively as an alternative? If so then what does that mean for the protection and progress of that particular 17 year old?

Does Wisdom's progress mean it might be time to move Kelly inside? What knock on effects would that have?

There are so many questions about and just when you think you might have one answered it means another one needs to be asked.

As long as Rodgers continues to discover as he goes along then I'll be happy. He learned that the kids were good to get a run, so he gave them one. Things like that will keep this season ticking along. The information wont just come in shovels, it's going to be drip fed as we go. This season, rather than being a blockbuster will turn our to be more of a serial. New episodes every few weeks. New intrigue as storylines develop alongside each other.

One thing that does need to be mentioned though I feel is the effect not having Lucas has had on the first few months of Rodgers' learning curve.

I feel like almost every opinion and outcome thus far should have an astrix next to it

*Without Lucas

His return will affect the way we as a team play so much that even things we feel at this stage are 'true' or factual could be prone to fluctuating.

Mr Dilkington

It's something I've been thinking about myself actually... there's no doubting that the squad is lacking in certain areas, but on the flip side of that it looks tremendously strong in others. But sometimes you have to look past the numbers. For example, we're doing pretty well in terms of centre midfielders, but there's no one else in our squad that has the skill set Lucas possesses. Allen has been doing a pretty good job of it, but it's not a role he's totally comfortable with you feel. That was shown against Udinese in particular, their midfield players managed to run off him on a few occasions, and you have to think had Lucas been on the pitch, would we have conceded three? The lads on the Anfield Wrap said we missed a Didi Hamman against Everton... we missed Lucas, and will continue to miss him until he returns. That leads me nicely into the next question... and it's one Rodgers will have to answer very soon. When Lucas does return, how does he change things up? Does he put Lucas as a sole pivot with two ahead, or does he put Allen alongside Lucas and push Gerrard and Sahin up the field? It's quite fortunate in a way, because there is a risk of Suso and Sterling being over exposed. We don't want two teenagers playing 30 plus a season... we've seen from Being: Liverpool that Rodgers is open to the idea of Gerrard in a wide position, so in time, does it become Gerrard wide right, then a group of Sterling, Suso, Downing, and Assaidi fighting for that left wing berth?


I think Rodgers does see himself playing a '2 and a 1'. He damn near said as much in that interview he did with RAWK (amongst others).

You're absolutely right about Lucas being the only player on our books who allows that subtle, but significant change in shape to occur.

It's tempting to dismiss the effect moving Allen forward a bit as a means to changing the mentality and set up of our entire approach but I believe it's highly significant.

We've seen how good Allen is at receiving the ball under pressure and in tight spaces, if he can do that higher up the pitch then the danger which he provides goes through the roof. To have a player capable of taking the ball in, turning, and then finding a man in the opponents half is a nightmare for the defending team. It turns them and puts them on the back foot incredibly quickly.

We've not seen Allen provide that so much approaching the final third of the pitch thus far. But it's not to be understated. The possible effect it could have on the front line's collective game is far reaching. Partcularly for someone like Sterling. I dont buy all this 'Allen's not adventourous enough with his passing' Shearer-ism. We've seen at youth and reserve level how effective Adorjan was at releasing Sterling once he got turned. Allen could potentiall bring a similar approach. Of course that's a very specific example but there general approach he could entice is something to look forward to.

Lucas as the one and Allen as one of the two look certs. That leaves one position in the middle to be taken. And 3 possible candidates.

Rodgers loves Shelvey, that much is clear. And Shelvey lacks the versitility to play anywhere else really. So he'll be in contention for it. Given his fluctating form that'll most likely be in rotation.

Sahin similar. Im a bit nonplussed about him to be honest. He's got a touch of class but I dont know what he's best at. From watching him occasionally in Germany I always thought he was more comfortable in deeper positions. Pulling and probing. But with a bit of mobility and instinct to bomb on occasionally. But here Rodgers seems to think he should be doing it rather more than occasionally. I just dont know if he's all that good at it. Im not saying he's not. I just cant figure him out.

That leaves Gerrard. Rodgers' comment about him being part of the front three almost slipped under the radar but it was highly significant.

Gerrard on the right has taken on a sort of life of its own as some sort of default setting people grasp at when things arent going for him through the middle. It's almost become a parody. But I genuinely believe it has it's merits.

It allows him freedom whilst still giving him boundries. It allows him to be in the final third of the pitch, with the ball at his feet. And if there's one thing we know about Gerrard it's that he has an end product. He can pick out a player in the box rather than just deliver it to that general area. He can time his runs. He does have a desire to get in to the box to score them. And he's produced in that position before. That cross Gerrard is able to counjure from deep is amongst the most dangerous ball in football. It's an absolute nightmare. And he has it down to a tee. It's the sort of cross/pass that Borini or a proper no09 would score a shed load of goals from, Suarez perhaps not so much. I dont think he makes the 6 yard box his home enough to benefit from it properly. But that's another discussion.

So, yeah. I would hope that Rodgers does see him taking on that role. He can come and go in the centre if we need him to. Suso can come in and fill in on the right or indeed Borini when he's back, or even Luis. But I would like to see Gerrard get a run there.

I dont think he's nailed down a position in the middle.

But then I dont think anyone's nailed down that second position in the '2'. There's cases to be made for and against Shelvey, Sahin and Gerrard.

I left Anfield last Thursday night after seeing Suarez occupy that space on the pitch for the entire time he was playing thinking he sould be given a spell there, but given the lack of an alternative for the position he currently occupies that's not a goer for the time being.

I've had Suarez playing in 3 different positions as the year's gone on. But none of them is the one he's currently playing.

It seems backwards to say it, as he's our top scorer and just bagged a brace nee hattrick against Everton. But he doesnt score the types of goals that I'd like my no9 to score. The goals against Everton weren't strikers goals.

One (two) from set peices and another which he simply hammered across the goal. Were it not for Baines I dont think it'd have got near the net.

His goals are odds and sods. There's no thread to them. Case and point would be him going through 1 on 1 against Norwich, missing, badly. Then stealing the ball back, megging the defender and scoring with the outside of his boot.

IT's just a little too erratic for what I personally look for from a striker. I tend to believe your go to guy should have less troughs, even if it means less peaks.

I dont see Suarez scoring goals that he couldnt continue scoring from a different position.

And then hopefully you add goals by playing someone up top who doesnt miss the ones Luis does.

If that makes any sense.

Mr Dilkington

Yeah, I think that's something else we have to look forward to re Allen. I remember watching bits and pieces of him against Fulham last season, and he was absolutely terrific. He was playing in that support role ahead of Britton and just behind Sigurdsson, and he was great. He ended up scoring a great goal too, carrying the ball through midfield and showing some fairly decent composure. That wee run against Man City back in August was a lovely glimpse into what we should hopefully see a lot more of when Lucas gets back.

I agree with you on Shelvey. He's clearly a very talented player, but he's yet to level out emotionally and physically I reckon. We saw first hand against Manchester United that he's a heart on the sleeve kind of player, and in the age we live in that kind of tackle always runs the risk of a red card doesn't it? I think he's yet to fill out properly too. There's times he looks incredibly awkward, but when he learns how to use his physique to his advantage, he'll be even harder to pin down. I actually quite like him playing deep (as he did against Everton), but because we're so short on goals, it seems clear that most of his game time will come just behind Suarez.

I'm for Gerrard on the right too. Dunno if you read it, but Yorky did a fantastic piece on the merits of Gerrard wide right, and although it was written some time back, I think it still stands up: http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=267141.0

To me it just makes sense. We have some good options in the middle... less so out wide. I don't buy into the theory that Gerrard is a liability in centre midfield. I think that's a theory born out of people being obsessed with Barcelona and ironically enough 'Tiki Taka'. People now judge midfielders not by the goals they score or the assists they give, but by how many passes they complete. I think finding the balance between the two is key. Another thing that makes me want to see Gerrard wide right is who he'd be linking up with (normally) - Glen Johnson. How salivating does a partnership between those two sound? Two thoroughbreds playing on the same wing. Both on the same wavelength. Yes, that is something I want to see.

On Suarez... I think I'm more open to the idea of him playing through the middle than you are, although I can completely understand your reservations about him playing there. Who knows, had Borini been played there and started firing, we may not now be talking about Suarez as a number 9. January will give us a good indication of where Rodgers wants to go with the side. There are some sources linking us to Christian Eriksen, and others to Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Whether the rumours have any substance I don't know, but the type of player we buy in January will surely determine where Suarez plays for the remainder of the season.

I think if you get intelligent players to the sides of him, he'll do his job. Also, players who are willing to run into the space, which is probably the most important thing. In time, Sterling could become our Pedro type player who chips in with goals and stretches the play. Right now I think we're a little too easy to defend against. Unless Suarez is 'on it', we look very short up front. That's another reason for Gerrard right wing. Teams will look at a front three containing Sterling, Suarez, and Gerrard. That would be unsettling for any team wouldn't it? That supplemented with a base of Lucas and Allen, with one of Shelvey or Sahin pushing on.

Looking further back in the team, what do you make of the defensive unit thus far? Again I think it's important to say that we haven't really had a full choice defence to call upon week in week out, what with injuries to Kelly, Enrique, and now Johnson. But from what we have seen, your thoughts? One player in particular I'd like to get your thoughts on is big Seba. I'm a fan. I think he's prone to an error here and there, but he came straight out of South American football into the Premier League, and to me he's handled it brilliantly. I just wish I could say the same about our handling of him... To me he is approaching his 'Pique' moment. Pique was clearly rated by the United coaching staff, but at the time he had Ferdinand, Vidic, and Evans all ahead of him in the pecking order. He was 21 and his development was being stunted big time. 12 months after his move away from Old Trafford he was the bedrock of Barcelona's treble success. Coates has just turned 22, and every time he plays he impresses, yet he has two International defenders ahead of him. Coates has been here for well over a year now, and he's yet to make his 20th appearance for the club. Do you think a decision will have to be made sooner rather than later, and we're you intrigued by our switch to 3 at the back last Sunday? Maybe that's the avenue Coates has been waiting for...


I think a front 3 of

Suarez       Borini       Gerrard

Has some real benefits to it. Borini can play all three, Suarez too, Gerrard can drift inside. There's so much scope for fluidity there. What it also allows is the 3 behind them to be more defined in their game time, through the removal of Gerrard. As well as protecting Sterling and Suso. Because right now, there dont seem to have any genuine competition. The nearest we've got is Assaidi, and I'm yet to be fully convinced that he has an end product.

Gerrard on the right also allows a potential partnership between him and Johnson to develop. As we know Gerrard would be playing 'off' the right rather than right on the white line. That means space for Johnson, arguably our second most dangerous attacking outlet so far this season. And if there's anyone who can strike up a rapport with him it's Gerrard.

I didnt get to see the game last night, handy as this is supposed to be an overview of the season thus far, means my mind is unclouded by recent events. But I have seen the goal.

Another excellent delivery from a deep wide position for Gerrard (albeit from the left). I dont know how many times he needs to do it before someone notices how productive it acvtually is but we and England have profited from *that* ball hugely in the past year.

(also another goal that Suarez would have scored regardless of playing through the middle or not). What I find most annoying about that is the fact that from set peices he clearly does have that instinct to get across his man and to attack the ball near or far post. But from open play he just doesnt do it. He likes to drop off in to space rather than attack it.

I suppose the gist of my 'Suarez isnt a no9' arguement is that id prefer the main man in the attack to provide a regular goal every, say, 120mins and perhaps not get a brace or a hattrick that often. I'd like that consisstency. And I dont think Suarez is that man. I think his goals come in waves rather than in drips. He'll get a hattrick against Norwich, and then not score for 2 or 3 games. I feel like he can still do that from starting from a wide position.

You're spot on about the goals not being distributed throughout the team though. Suso and Sterling are huge talents, but goal threats they aint. Yet. And nor should we require them to be.

Suarez through the middle is a marriage of convenience right now, rather than one borne out of unbridled love, I feel.

Unbridled love is a great segway on to Coates. As it's what I have for that 6"6 shaggy dog of a player.

I wrote this;


on him after the Udinese game so might end up repeating myself a little.

But the 'Pique moment' is something I'd not considered. I think it's apt.

I came under fire in the summer for being open to the sale of last years player of the year when he was being linked to Man City for £20m+. Whether those rumours were true is another matter, but I maintain it would have been a bit smart to sell him. All hypothetical, as we might have ended up trying to be too smart for our own good but, well...

Coates is incredibly young for his postition, but also incredibly talented. He has years in him yet and I can't recall him ever having a bad game (albeit he's not had that many at all). He's had bad moments, but he's not put in a poor performance.

I reckon a smarter club in our position (rebuilding) would have sold Skrtel when his value was at an all time high, likely never to reach such heights again, and used those funds to improve their squad. Safe in the knowledge that there was a younger, immensely talented player ready to step in for no outlay at all.

I dont think there'd have been much of a drop off in quality personally either. But that is largely based on personal bias rather than any concrete evidence.

But as it stands, he's in the position he's in. And it's not ideal for him one bit.

He needs games, and honestly, he deserves them. But where are they going to come from? Occasionally Carra even makes the bench over him still. It's madness. The only thing more annoying than Carra being there over Coates is when they're on the bench together, but that's a whole other thing. That and Cole would lead me to turn the air blue over Rodgers and I wont do it.

The switch to a 3 was very intriguing. And heartening. I was pleased to see Rodgers had it in him. I remain a little afraid that he is a little too wedded to his 'system' but that showed a willingness and ability to adapt. And it worked for the most part.

It can't hurt Coates for an extra CB slot to become available on occasion, but I get the feeling it'll be a revert to if things arent working type rather than a we'll give this a go for a few games type thing.

Time will tell with that one you feel, but it is something to keep an eye on.

What are your thoughs on Pepe? Out of form or out of touch? I dont know myself. How much longer do we give him to turn it round? On paper he makes much more sense than he does on the pitch right now.

Mr Dilkington

Borini is a funny one. I had only seen bits and pieces of him when he was at Swansea, and then again at Roma, but not really enough to form a proper opinion. Going off his first few months here, it's a bit of a mixed bag for me. His movement is excellent, he times his runs really well, but is often let down by his first touch. The heartening thing is, he had a fantastic conversion rate in Serie A last year; think it was floating around 30%. He comes across as an instinctive kind of striker, in the Jelavic mode. Basically 99% of Jelavic's goals come from a single touch. From watching him at Rangers, he's not the most technically accomplished strikers, but he is always wired into the game and he isn't afraid to just swing away. There's no fluffy details to his game, it's just pure instinctive and clinical strike play. Borini is cut from the same cloth I reckon. Whenever he needs to think about it, he over thinks things, when it arrives at him quickly he does much better. Whether he'll turn out to be a first choice player remains to be seen, but there's no doubt he makes for a very useful option in the squad.

Totally agree with your comments on Coates too. I like Skrtel, but I think Coates can defend just as well, but use the ball better. Maybe I'm being harsh on big Martin, but I just get the feeling Coates is bursting to come through. It would be unfair of us to stunt such a promising player in his development. I think the three at the back thing is interesting, and it's something that could open up possibilities for Downing too. Left wing back puts lets pressure on him to create things, which he's struggled at thus far. Coates and Agger to either side of Skrtel coming out with the ball, yes please.

The Reina question eh? He's clearly still a good goalkeeper, just not great anymore. Why is that? First thing to say is he's not been all that great for a good while now. He was poor under Hodgson and Dalglish before Rodgers ever stepped foot into Melwood; so it's not as if this is a problem that has just reared its ugly heed. The Xavi Valero thing is probably true in some way, but when you're a World class goalkeeper, you don't just crumble because your goalkeeping coach leaves. Graham Hunter made an interesting comment on a recent episode of Revista. If memory serves, the question was actually about Valdes, because like Reina his form has been underpar. Hunter's theory was based around the Euros. Because Valdes and Reina were both sat on their arse all summer watching Iker Casillas captain Spain to yet another major title, they weren't active enough. So he thinks this early season games is effectively their pre season. The goalkeepers that starred at the Euros like Hart, Neuer, Buffon, and Casillas have all started the season well, is that just because they are great goalkeepers, or does Hunter's theory have some credence to it? I think he's too good to give up on myself. Plus, he has stuck with us through some bad times, it's time for us to return the favour don't you think?

Thinking back to Sunday (again), and the switch to three at the back... Not only was it interesting in terms of the defence, it was both interesting and very exciting to see how well Sterling and Suarez linked together from a central position. I remember saying a while back that I thought Sterling would end up playing as a false 9, when his finishing gets a bit better. So do you think Suarez and Sterling playing up front together is a genuine option, or was it just used due to circumstance?


I'm unconvinced by Borini myself, but I cant help but feel that when he was getting a game he was playing in the wrong position anyway. I think he's the sort of striker that can explore the channels and 'work' in those wide areas of the pitch. But I dont know if he can really play there.

It's a different scenario pulling off in to wide positions rather than starting from them. Having watched him I think he's much more suited to the former.

I definitely think he's a no9. A lot of his goals in Italy looked like 'ugly' finishes. What I mean by that is that there wasn't all that much style or finesse to them, but they were functional. He put the ball between the sticks, made sure the keeper couldnt get to it and that's all that mattered. It encouraged me too see it. Kuyt was the same. It's probably just a superficial thing with me, Torres scored lots of goals, and looked stylish doing so. So there's room for it. But I like those 'ugly' goals. Because my God dont we just struggle scoring them?

I hoped, and still do, that Borini could be our guy who comes in and scores in the 6 yard box. Or gets the rebounds. I think he can grow in to that role, given his movement (as you cited) and the fact that he does seem able to provide that strike rate (again mentioned by yourself) and the way in which those previous goals have come, the types of goals they were. But I dont think he's there yet...

I dont know if he'll ever get there either truth be told. Certainly to the extent to which he nails that position down above anyone else in a team pushing for top 4 and then hopefully beyond. So like so many aspects of our squad and indeed members of our squad these are questions that will take months, even seasons to answer. It's a long haul.

A back 3 with Downing and Henderson as the wingbacks? I want to see it, just cos.

The Valero thing really irks me. I've no doubt that Reina will work better with some and not so well with others, but its no excuse for him. I simply dont think that if that is the reason, then it should be allowed to affect him to this extent. Surely Reina must take ownership over his own ability? He cant just be an average, average to poor, goalkeeper without a specific coach can he? He's better than that. Or at least I thought he was.

Honestly? I'd give him until the end of the season. If there's a buyer that is. He still has some stock, he's still young enough to entice a decent price. This could be another Torres type sale if we got it right. If we sell him on his way down but before the free fall then the timing could be perfect (hopefully we'd reinvest the windfall better). I dont like saying it because I love Pepe. He's such a good lad and he really just gets us. But we're a football club first and foremost. And if a player, any player, continues to underperform you have to look at their position. Personal bias, former glories, looking good on paper. They need to be disregarded.

He's got half a season to pick his form up for me. Selling him even then would be a big decision. But we cant shy away from those. Selling or releasing Carra would have been a big decision, but it should have been made before his ability nosedived. Avoiding it and skirting around it did us no favours. I'd hate to see Reina become a millstone around our neck.

I reckon Rodgers is increasingly intrigued by Sterling through the middle. Rightly so because he's got so many attributes that lends itself to being a success there. He can really stretch teams with his acceleration and his movement is incredibly mature.

Personally I dont think it's an avenue that should be pursued just yet. I'd like to see him nail down that position on the left first, because at 17 he's certainly not got to gips with that just yet. It wouldnt do him many favours to get caught between two positions, not fully being able to embrace either.

And to be a 17/18 year old striker for Liverpool takes a hell of a lot. It's one thing being on the left at that age, but playing up top brings a whole other set of pressure. You're required to deliver, you're measured against a number. I dont think Sterling is good enough a finisher to live up to that pressure.

Owen and Folwer were freaks of nature. Sterling may be comparable in terms of talent, but they were born goalscorers. They lived for goals and they just knew how to score them. Sterling can score, he has a finish in him. Be he's no Owen or Fowler in terms of plundering them.

I think the scope is there, and its an option to explore within games if we need to. But as is I dont think we should be earmarking Sterling for that role with any sort of regularity. I dont think it'd do him any favours, or us. As I dont believe he'd be able to deliver to be honest.

Thankfully I reckon the 3 at the back and Sterling through the middle will go hand in hand as options rather than solutions.

One thing I would like to gauge is your opinion on Rodgers himself. Rodgers the man as well as the manager. How are you taking to him? I think I'm swimming upstream with a few of my views. Be interesting to hear your opinion before airing my own.

Mr Dilkington

I like him. A lot. I've never hidden that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not willing to blindly support him, but I like what I see thus far. I liked his work at Swansea, and knowing someone who's worked for him, I only hear great things. I do have some concerns about his tactical adaptability, but I think he's smart enough to know when to change things up. It's also important to remember he's still learning. We bought into that when he arrived. We all know he's going to make mistakes, because he has said so himself, but for me the long term reward will far outweigh the short term blips. You have to consider how brave he has been too. To give Sterling, Suso, and Wisdom regular games, as well as Robinson, Yesil, and Morgan here and there shows that age is just a number to him. There's loads of other managers who would be quite happy to see players like Downing flatter to deceive week in week out, but still play him because they don't want to play a young player. It's one of the things I felt Kenny could have done better last season, but again I can completely understand why he didn't want to. And he did give games to Flanagan and Robinson.

The Being: Liverpool thing did him no favours at all, but the decision to film that documentary came before his appointment, and he was kind of thrown In there. Anyone who watched it will have immediately knew what kind of tone they were going for. I think Rodgers was simply giving them what they wanted. He is very full on with his soundbites about the clubs history, the 'way of life' etc, but y'know what? I think he's genuine. Maybe I'm being naive, but I genuinely think he means what he says, and I think he can put us back on our fucking perch.

It breeds a great message to the players that if you're playing well, you'll play. It encourages hard work in training, and it stamps out complacency. I suppose it also depends on what we as fans expect from this season. Me personally... I just want a little bit of bloody solidity. I want some regularity. I want to see some nice football. I think Rodgers will give us all of these things. So having said all that, I think... Given your 'swimming against the tide' comment, you might take up the opposite end of the spectrum to me...?


I'm not the opposite. There's a lot about him that I'm more than willing to endorse.

It's more a personal thing with me rather than anything to do with his management of the club. I'm actually quite impressed with that side of Rodgers.

I'm in complete agreement about his big calls being brave. Our squad is wafer thin but to be starting league games with 3 teenagers, 3 immensely talented teenagers, but teens nonetheless. That's very brave. It would have been so easy to even 'just' play Sterling and then pad out the right hand side with Assaidi or Downing. But once Borini was injured in came Suso. Right off the bat.

I like his chutzpah in coming in and demanding his terms be met when signing his contract. I love that he cut off Ayre in his press conference. It shows leadership and not only a vision within himself but a willingness and dive towards achieving what he wants. All great managers are control freaks.

I like the football too. Ive been pleasantly surprised by his willingness to adapt his 'vision'. Going 3 at the back etc. I was terrified that he'd be rigid with it. For all the praise Swansea got last season I thought they looked blunt quite a lot of the time. Dominating the ball doesnt necessarily mean dominating the match. Barcelona is clearly a reference point for Rodgers. But their 'system' has had so many different incarnations within regimes never mind between them. You need to have that adaptability. I think it's something Rodgers, as a young coach, will need to learn as he goes on. Being the age he is it's fair to allow him to be idealistic. Like a fresher at Uni. He thinks he has all the answers to the big issues at times, but there's a lot of nuances to football that he'll pick up along the way. A familiar thread running through these correspondances about the club right now isnt it?

I suppose now I'd better address that 'upstream' comment.

I'll be brutally honest, and given that ive just offered up that support of many aspects of his management I feel I can be.

I dont really like Rodgers.

I dont like the soudbites, the references to Shanks, the comments about it being a 'way of life', or fighting every day for club and the city. It turns me off. It just comes across as if Jen Chang or someone in a similar role who is more competent has collared him and given him a list of subjects and token phrases and said "They'll lap this up". It comes across to me as incredibly orchestrated.

Now I know im being cynical and there's no sheet of paper, there certainly no competency in the Liverpool PR dept, and that its genuinely just coming from Rodgers. But that's how it seems to me. He's hitting his marks. Like a politician who knows he's going to a working class city to canvass and so he hammers it home about creating jobs or mentioning how he's got a similar background. Then the next day he's in a more affluent area and he starts talking about taxes.

Rodgers spiel, for lack of a better word. Is just too good.

I dont remember it being so forced with Rafa. The respect and admiration seemed to grow organically over time. Kenny already had that connection and Roy was, Roy. So Rafa seems the last relevant example. We learned more about him and he got a greater understanding about us as time went on, same with Ged. Rodgers though has come in all guns blazing.

He's trying to manufacture that connection imho. I'd just like to be wooed a little more. It's not so much been a courtship as it has a systematic seduction.

It's trivial though, and I recognise that. What counts is whats on the pitch, and Rodgers is doing as well as might be expected there.

That's got me wondering whether its important to like your manager?

I'd like to think im even handed enough to judge Rodgers on what he does rather than what he says. And I certainly dont dislike him. But its a strange paradigm in football to think you need to have that connection with your clubs manager.

Its certainly something that exists at Liverpool. The Rafatollah, the supernatural connection that Kenny has with the club, Shankly. We love to love the man in charge.

Is it necessary though? Can you appreciate the manager if not the man? I know there are Utd supporters who cant stand Ferguson. But it's not stopped them enjoying the fruits of his labour.

There have been certain players ive never really thought of as decent lads at the club. I dont think Gerrard is particularly likeable for example. But I've loved having him in the team.

That's allowed, right?

Mr Dilkington

I think it is. With Ferguson it's a bit different, because he's already had all the success; so the United fans have that to balance the Glazer thing up with. I would personally struggle to get on board with a manager that i didn't like. If others wouldn't then that's all credit to them. Even if the work is impressive, if I don't like the person, then I struggle to buy into it.

The great thing about Rodgers to me is he seems like the kind of guy who just loves talking about football. It's not just a job for him, it's a way of life (sorry!). I know it was Jen Chang's idea the whole monthly meetings with the fan blogs and suchlike, but Rodgers seemed to really enjoy it. I'm sure I can remember Andy Heaton saying they were told they would get 20 minutes, and he ended up staying for about an hour, and going into great detail too. It didn't come across as if he couldn't be arsed; he seemed genuinely keen to explain what went wrong against Arsenal.

One of the very interesting things I found about that was he admitted our midfield was too open. He said the three somehow became a one. That's really rare I think. A manager who is willing to sit there and admit he got it wrong, and then explain what he could've done better. I remember listening to a clip when Rafa was promoting his book. They said something that Rafa didn't agree with, and Rafa, very bluntly said 'it's an idea'. It was dismissive. Does that show the difference between the two? For all that people go on about how Rodgers is too embedded in his ideology, I think Rafa was even more so like that. Incredibly stubborn, and Rafa knew how good he was. I think in a Rafa team, if all the parts are functioning correctly, it's great. But if you take one cog away, all the other parts fail. We removed the wrong piece of jenga back in 2009 with Alonso, and the whole tower collapsed. I think Rodgers is better equipped to deal with something like that.

Looking ahead to January, what are you hoping for in terms of incomings? Perhaps a more prudent question is: what do you expect?


I do hasten to add that I dont dislike Rodgers, but I'm certainly not ready to get in line with him in the way that I have previous managers. Yet. Im not ruling it out.

I think you're right about Rafa too. All top managers are dictators and have a vision. Rafa was a megalomaniac at times, you need to have that confidence in your opinion to be in the job. Im glad Rodgers has it. But you also need to compromise when needed, I think he has that too.

Like you say, the man genuinely loves football. It emanates out of him. Many of the trivial misgivings Ive had with him can be explained by him being so enthused by being manager of our club that he's come on a bit strong.

I can live with that.

The consensus seems to be that we need a striker, but that throws up as many questions as it does answers for me. Football is a squad game but if we go out and buy a no9 what does that mean for Suarez? Does Rodgers not seen him as his main man through the middle after all? It would also all but confirm that he doesnt see Borini as that man.

We need depth, but I'd like to know exactly what Rodgers is moving towards before defining what it is we need to get there.

If Rodgers see's Suarez playing as no9 long term then I dont know if we do need a striker, in the traditional sense. In that case I think we'd need a wide forward. Suarez will be a fixture in the team, so buying competition for him perhaps wouldnt be a priority.

Suso and Sterling offer a lot, but goals isnt really one of those things. If Suarez is to play through the middle then we need more goals from out wide. We also need to be able to take those players out of the team when things aren't going so well for them.

If it were me, I'd use Suarez and Gerrard as players to bring both goals and depth from wide and go out and buy a striker. But I dont think Rodgers sees it the same way.

It's probably easier to look at where we dont need to strengthen. I think we're ok at CB. Coates is an able back up, as we've covered. And we have Kelly/Sama/Wisdom if we really have a crisis.

RB is fine. GK too. Ditto CM, with the possible exception of no like for like cover for Lucas. But it's not pressing.

Unfortunately I think that's just about it.

LB is still up in the air with Enrique, Robinson seems to be very gradually being introduced so we cant count on him yet. Johnson's ability to step in to the role though probably knocks the position down of few pegs in terms of when it needs to be addressed.

We badly need some attacking talent in the front line, throughout the 3 positions.

What I think is possibly the most interesting position is that most advanced midfielder. The Sigurdsson role if we're using Rodgers-isms. I dont think we have anyone on our books who brings an awful lot of subtlety to the role.

We've been linked to Erikssen from Ajax this week, he's the sort of player that I mean. Someone who floats about in that area rather than patrolling it.

Shelvey, Gerrard, Sahin. I dont think they're that player. Or Suarez if he was to ever play there.

Adorjan is probably the player most fitting on our books. I like the cut of his jib but I dont know if he has the class required to play for us if we're to get to the level that Rodgers has been tasked with pushing for. People seem to think Suso will end up there but he's never impressed in that position for me. He's always looked more comfortable deeper or out on the right.

I'd like to see such a player in our squad though. Someone who will pick the locks. Oscar at Chelsea has me looking longingly in their direction. I dont know who that player is, who's available etc. :But it's a skill set I believe we're lacking.

Mr Dilkington

I think you're right about the January transfer window. We could really do with a proper, experienced number 9, and If the owners are feeling kind, maybe a winger or a playmaker too. There's a lot of interesting names swirling round at the moment. I think this year, more than any other also boasts a number of quality players going out of contract. Huntelaar, Holtby, Walcott, Sturridge are all talented players who would improve our squad you'd think. I'm a bit reluctant to name names though, because we just don't know who Rodgers has asked Ian Ayre for (urgh). It might well be someone like Assaidi who no one is really familiar with. Who knows, maybe there's another Michu type out there?

Your point re Adorjan is a good one too. I like the player, and I think he at least deserves a shot, but wouldn't it be nice if the owners actually gave Rodgers some money for someone a little more experienced, rather than just trying out yet another kid? The worry I have is the owners might look at it, in all their knowledge, and go 'wait a minute, when he played Sterling, he swam, when he played Suso, he swam, and when he played Wisdom he swam...' Not all kids will though, and I hope they don't fall into the trap of thinking any young player can walk into our first 11 and immediately look at home. You must wonder, given how the season has gone for him so far, whether Sigurdsson is starting to regret turning his back on Rodgers? Dempsey, Bale, and Lennon all seem to be in great form. I just hope they support Rodgers whatever. I understand that they might still be reeling over Comolli and Dalglish throwing money away like paper, but it's not fair to take it out on Rodgers. If he is their man, then it's time to prove it.

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