A season at Watford, maybe another at Reading, before taking up the vacancy at Swansea for a similar length of time, hardly prepares anyone for the hot seat at Anfield. No matter how much of a talent or fast-tracker one is destined to be. Or feted by a fickle media as the next greatest thing in the Premier League.
On such a flimsy apprenticeship Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers may very easily perish and find life in the lower ranks of the game less captivating. Not unlike Andre Villas-Boas who was unable to step out from the shadows of Jose Mourinho’s backroom team and hold his own as manager at either Chelsea or Spurs. Now plying his trade at Zenit St Petersburg.
Although older managers never employed the silken PR skills of the current crop. One has to believe they were scarred by the game’s less romantic experiences and more hardened than some of those in place today. Who invent philosophies as lasting as match day pies. That when analysed are little more than sound bites. In that sense Rodgers is a classic and creating his own parody material with quotes that leave David Colemanballs in the cheap seats.
Now faced with a week of bad results any investigation at Anfield will enjoy respite due to the international break. Allowing one hopes the management team to gather themselves.
However it is hard to avoid the harsh truth that the merits of last season were earned on the back of the sublime skills of Luis Suarez and with most title challengers battling on a number of fronts in Champions League or FA Cup. While Liverpool had nothing but the Premier League to focus on. Able to rest players and avail of plentiful recovery time with fewer midweek matches. A year further on the supposed progress at Liverpool last year is not very visible.
Complicated by the poor spending of the £80M harnessed from Suarez’s move to Barcelona and the acquisition of Mario Balotelli. A players that has yet to find any job security since he was first on trial at Barcelona in 2006. Failing at Manchester City with Robert Mancini, falling out of favour at Inter Milan with the treble winning manager of the day, Jose Mourinho; and not being retained at AC Milan beyond a season and a bit. Not to mention some of the off field activities that attract unwarranted attention.
Questioning very strongly Rodgers decision to bring Balotelli to Liverpool. However well-intentioned the motives of the Liverpool manager. Not helped by ten days where Liverpool lost to Newcastle United away and suffered another defeat at home to Chelsea.
Those matches either side of a Champions League visit to Real Madrid where Rodgers rested Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerard, Jordan Henderson, Mario Balotelli and Philippe Coutinho from his starting line-up. A meeting that came on the back of the first leg at Anfield where the Reds went down by three goals to nil.
A decision that Rodgers argued was about resting players ahead of their Premier League clash with Chelsea. Insisting that: "I didn't rest players for Saturday. I picked a team that I thought could get a result. The players that came in were excellent and we were unfortunate not to get a result."
Whatever the reasons the boos at Anfield on Saturday suggest that without result Rodgers home spun philosophy on the game will not be enough to meet the dreams of the fans. Nor the ambitions US owners potentially. Or indeed equal the lengthy history ingrained at Anfield with the club still no closer to ending the 25 year League title drought. With the fielding of a weakened side at the Santiago Bernabeu midweek seen as sacrilege by some. Particularly at a club that made a habit of winning the European Cups in the past. The last of which was won in 2005 in Istanbul against AC Milan.
Drawing a reaction also from one of the clubs legends John Toshack. A striker in his day who also managed Real Madrid on two occasions.
"I still think there's a dark cloud hanging over Anfield from what happened," Toshack told the BBC. "They went so close after being so long without winning that championship.
“I still think there's a bit of a hangover there. It's a bitter pill to swallow for them. Liverpool really are going through a bit of a dodgy spell.
On the return from the international break Liverpool face Crystal Palace away, have Stoke City at home; then Leicester city away before the visit of Sunderland. Offering twelve valuable points before they face Manchester United on December 14th and then travel to Arsenal.
Which depending on the results, might have the Liverpool boss wishing he was indeed Buck Rodgers and living in the 25th Century
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