|photo by Ben Sutherland
Correspondent Ed's take on the curremt state of Liverpool FC:
We're now five games into the season and two episodes into "Being: Liverpool", and they don't yet have a win. Granted, their schedule has been tough. And granted they've been somewhat unlucky, but as Bill Parcells used to say: "You are what your record says you are."
So if they are that bad, the question is why. I think the reasons are the same as for any club performing poorly: (1) talent, and (2) their system. The reality of Liverpool is that their best player, Steven Gerrard, is a bit old and still plays a hollywood long-ball system more suitable to his abilities and more comfortable to his eyes. After Gerrard, there is Luis Suarez, the striker who simply can't score. The wingers include a 19 year old with promise as well as an Italian named Borini who seems to be cut from the same cloth as the other guy who couldn't make it in the BPL, Alberto Aquilani. Even 'keeper Reina has been mistake prone and for the most part awful.
The blame for the personnel is largely the past, but Brendan Rodgers also deserves some of the blame for mistakes like Borini. In addition, not unlike Spurs' AVB, Rodgers is forcing his system on many players that just aren't comfortable with it, and severing some of his better talent simply because it doesn't fit. In politics they say that personnel is policy; the same goes on the pitch.
As for the system -- the possession game -- I would suggest it's the best in the world when mastered, but takes tons of time to master. I suspect Liverpool is still in the understanding phase of learning, and is far from the final stage when the knowledge is executed reflexively. As of now, Swansea plays the system far better than Liverpool with inferior talent.
So my case set out against him, do I blame Rodgers? Do I think he should change directions? No and no. The system will be a winner in a few years, and could potentially change the BPL. My reasoning is that if Swansea can do as well as they did and continue to do with subpar talent, a team with Liverpool's ability to attract and pay top tier talent has the potential to dominate.
I also find an interesting distinction between Rodgers and Sir Alex on this point. United's system is, it seems, to stack the team with as many top quality strikers as possible. It's fascinating to me how United is still dependent upon Paul Scholes, yet have so many strikers they had to dump the League's former leading goal scorer for the price of a third tier midfielder. Is this at the end of the day Sir Alex's secret to winning the league?
Well, it's never as simple as that. But I think it's tough not to support the nobility of Rodgers efforts. The question is really whether the team and even Rodgers himself has the patience to see it through.
This is farlieonfootie for September 28.