The New Liverpool

August 17, 2012 in Premier League by Karl Coppack

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Welcome to Year Zero. The new Liverpool Football Club. Kenny’s gone and the mistakes of the past are to be washed away by the guiding hand of Brendan Rodgers. The poor signings, the poorer League form and the shocking PR are no more. Brendan wears the rose of youth upon him and is charged with leading us back into the limelight.

It’s great supporting Liverpool. No scratching around in mediocre settings. We’re either reaching for the stars or stumbling around the gutter with a bloodied nose and no cab fare. Five years ago we contested our second European Cup final in three seasons. Three years ago we finished runners-up with 86 points. Then came Hodgson. Then the ousting of terrible owners. Then the joyous return of the King. Then three trips to Wembley. Then a sacking. It’s better to have loved and lost, I suppose.

The club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, through their cabana boy Ian Ayre explained that even a second Cup win wouldn’t have been enough to save Dalglish’s job. Fourth place is all and shiny things can take a powder. This is the new way. Our greatest ever manager once pointed out that ‘Liverpool exists to win trophies’ but that was a long time ago. Call it short-termism but one season was enough to replace the club’s greatest servant with a manager who sat in Premier League dugouts just 38 times in his life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no axe to grind with Rodgers, I really haven’t. He wants to play the game as it’s supposed to be played - pass and move. If you’ve lost the ball get it back. Get it and pass it to the nearest Red shirt. Always pass the direction you’re facing etc. Kenny was hardly a hoof-it-and-see man but Kenny’s gone now and the fans are being sold a revolutionary system that was in the Anfield tradition long before FSG came to town.

My problem is the selling of Brendan by the owners. We know what he is. We know what he’s capable of and we all want to see him do well. Course we do. What we don’t need is the deification of the new man. Liverpool fans build their managers up and put them on plinths but we tend to wait until we’ve seen if they’re any good first. Call us old fashioned.

It started with his first press conference. He stood up, said the right things, interrupted Tom Werner, the FSG man and a man who should be interrupted more often and sat down again. All very nice. But suddenly it became more of that. Those first words seemed more impressive than the Gettysburg Address. The official website went into overdrive. Comparisons with Barcelona and this new thing about moving the ball on the deck etc. Isn’t he great? True, he spoke better than Hodgson, Dean Martin locked in a whisky cellar for a week could speak better than Hodgson, but it wasn’t exactly Vince Lombardi. If anything the hyperbole insulted Rodgers as much as the fans. He’s replacing Kenny Dalglish and that’s pressure enough.

There’s some indecision about Andy Carroll. Surely the big lad wouldn’t fit into this new philosophy. Rodgers said he wasn’t going on loan. Then he was. Now he isn’t. Hmm. Okay. Can we smell the hand of FSG behind this? Dirk and Maxi, substantial wage earners, have gone. Likewise Aquilani. Now there’s talk of Skrtel and Agger being offed. So far we’ve bought three players - Allen, Borini and Assaidi - and brought one back - Joe Cole. Injured already, obviously.

If there’s to be a brave new world it will require some heavy funding. Gerrard is getting on a bit. Jamie Carragher has just played his 700th game for the club and the young, young blood of Sterling and Suso are still mere pups who aren’t ready to propel the Reds up the table just yet despite their undoubted ability and potential.

And yet only fourth is good enough.

How?

We may have to get there without Daniel Agger. The Dane’s situation is yet to be resolved and it’s an interesting to see where the owners intend to go. Agger fits perfectly into the much-lauded Rodgers passing game as he resembles Alan Hansen more than Brian Kilcline but with £23m bid on the table FSG may want to recoup some of their losses and reduce the wage bill a bit further. Alright, we’d be losing a world class centre back but that’s a significant sum. We’re still finishing fourth though.

There’s talk of loan deals to cover the holes. As things stand, with Carroll seemingly taking a back seat, Liverpool only have two strikers in Suarez and Borini. Fourth?

Off the field things look a bit rosier. FSG have secured sponsorship with Chevrolet (who also ‘partner’ Man United, making them the Tim Lovejoy of the corporate world) and a money spinning trip to America will secure shirt sales. It’s just a pity that none of it’s going into the team at the moment. You can’t cut the team and ask it to rise several places up the League. Which one do FSG want?

Liverpool have already started their campaign with wins over Gomel of Belarus, before the opening game at The Hawthorns. They’ll meet Steve Clarke there. A nice little grudge match between the Scot and the owners who mistreated his former boss in May.

If pushed for a prediction I’d say that Liverpool will get out of the group stages of the Europa League but no further, exit the Cups early as they’re no longer part of the plan and finish 6th in the League with eight more points than last season. If FSG didn’t want Kenny in the first place and saw him only as a temporary manager they’re likely to give Rodgers more than the fifteen months but as he is the fourth manager in just over two years I wouldn’t expect too much. Good luck, Brendan.

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