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Is Brendan Rodgers the right man to rebuild Liverpool once again?

Liverpool’s disappointing 2-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa has heaped the pressure on the Northern Irishman.

ONE YEAR MAKES quite the difference in football. Brendan Rodgers could do no wrong last season, as he came within touching distance of winning the Premier League title.

How quickly a man described as a “genius” can be labelled by those same fans as a “fraud”.

Sunday’s defeat to Aston Villa meant Brendan Rodgers’ won’t be known as the man who delivered that long overdue league title to Anfield but as the first manager since the late 1950s to fail to win a trophy in his first three seasons in charge.

Source: Adam Davy

May fans took to social media calling for Rodgers’ sacking after the game. The names Klopp, De Boer and even Benitez were mentioned more than once or twice. Liverpool now sit fifth in the league, seven points back from Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand.

There is no question that this has been a disappointing campaign. There is a host of problems that need to be addressed in the summer. But the big question now is this — is Brendan Rodgers the man to do it?

The short answer is yes.

Liverpool are no longer among the financial big hitters. If Rodgers left this summer, it is highly unlikely that FSG will go after a big name like Jurgen Klopp. Even if they did, would he join a team that is unlikely to be in the Champions League? So who then would they turn to? The truth is they would just be looking for a carbon copy of Rodgers. At just 42, Rodgers is still one of the most talented young managers in the game.

Liverpool season has been a mixture of poor managerial decisions and bad luck. Any manager in the world would struggle if their star striker left, their second best striker was constantly injured, their captain was in obvious decline, their best young player is stalling on a new contract and all the new signings made by the “transfer committee” have failed to settle in.

What would a new manager change? The general consensus online seems to be that a “fresh start” would fix all of these problems. But a new manager isn’t going to be able to keep Sturridge from being on the physio’s table or inject Gerrard with the pace he has lost over the last two to three years.

Source: Adam Davy

Liverpool’s transfer committee decided, under the instructions of FSG, to replace Luis Suarez with a host of “young talent”. That is their transfer strategy. To sign emerging talent rather than established players. If you do that, you have to expect that it takes them time to settle in and develop. Rodgers has already proved he is capable of helping young players progress to the next level. Look at Sterling, and more recently Jordon Ibe. So give him the time to do it.

With that said, Rodgers needs to help himself. You can say he is young, inexperienced, etc but some of his in-game management this season has been extremely poor. After a great run of form since Christmas, the 3-4-2-1 formation was painfully exposed against United and Arsenal. They pressed high up the pitch, blocked off easy passes out and forced the Liverpool defenders into making mistakes. It was painful to watch.

Rodgers had been criticised earlier in the season for sticking with the 4-2-3-1 too long, when Liverpool made their worst start in 50 years. His stubbornness was again on show when he failed to recognise the weaknesses against United and stuck to his guns against Arsenal. But that could be excused. He did change back to four at the back and wins against Newcastle and Blackburn followed. Why then change again for an important semi-final against Aston Villa? He effectively made Sherwood’s job much easier, since Van Gaal had already supplied the blueprint to beat Liverpool in that formation. His substitutions in that game were also puzzling, as they have been numerous time this season.

Mouth

Rodgers needs to accept when something isn’t working; like Sturridge up front, for example. The England international has struggled up front on his own this season, perhaps due to his fitness problems. But he flourished last season with a strike partner beside him. Surely when Liverpool have been struggling for goals, it might be time to try two up front?

Another big problem has been his mouth. His long list of buzzwords has not helped Liverpool this season, and has instead put on unneeded pressure on his players. Before the United game he was talking about finishing second.

But the question we must ask ourselves is are any of Liverpool’s issues irreparable? I don’t believe so. There is no doubt Rodgers has made mistakes this season but he deserves a chance to progress the side in 2015/16. Lets not forget that three short weeks ago, Liverpool were unbeaten since January and the plaudits were flying in for Rodgers once more.

You could view him as a victim of his own success. If Liverpool had finished fourth or fifth instead of second last season, fans may have been congratulating Rodgers on making steady progress. But nobody can excuse stagnation. Rodgers will be under pressure to deliver next season. At the very least, the Anfield faithful will expect the Northern Irishman to get them playing the attractive football that became his signature once again.

What do you think?

Read: Martin O’Neill is wrong — Jack Grealish is ready to play for Ireland

Read: Here’s why Spurs might end up cheering on bitter rivals Arsenal in the FA Cup final

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About the author:

Donal Lucey

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