Liverpool have work to do, but all is not lost
Published: 07.09.12 / Written by: David Gold
You would have think someone had been shot. As it was, Liverpool only lost 2-0 at home to Arsenal.
These things happen, surely? Added to a 2-2 draw with Manchester City and a 3-0 defeat to West Brom, it was Liverpool's worst start to a season for decades.
But it seems a bit rash to go overboard about that, even if it has been a disappointing start for Brendan Rodgers at Anfield. There have been some promising signs. His team have passed the ball well and were the better team against Manchester City last week. They also played some good football against both Arsenal and West Brom, even if it bore no reward.
Circumstance has conspired against Liverpool to some extent. Their first two home games of the season were as hard as they could have wished for, and West Brom away is hardly easy. Particularly if down to 10 men and going behind to a wonderstrike.
Clearly there is work to do though. The defence does not look comfortable yet with the new passing system, and all the pieces are yet to click properly. A whole redesign of the team is being made, but it looks only half complete. Players like Martin Skrtel and Steven Gerrard, quality players as they are, do not seem at ease in Rodgers systematised possession based formula. Gerrard in particular is a problem for Rodgers. Iconic as he is, alienating and dropping him would be one way to get the crowd turning against him. Yet it is hard to see how Gerrard fits into Liverpool's new system. Great player as he is, he has never been the most disciplined of performers, and revels in making things happen alone. His surges forward and long passes have been trademarks of his play. Yet how does that fit into the new system? It does not appear as though it does. The new system is one which does not seek to maximise the best out of a particular individual, as say Manchester United's does, be it Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie. The Rodgers system is designed to elicit the maximum from a collective group. In that sense it is more like Arsenal, whom Liverpool faced on Sunday.
And that game with Arsenal is not a fair one to judge this particular team. Arsenal play the way Liverpool want to play. Arsene Wenger has been there for 15 years, Rodgers barely 15 weeks. It seems harsh, as Arsenal know how to play the game in that way better, they are more used to it and therefore in a battle between both teams trying to play the same way, the outcome was fairly inevitable. That does not mean Liverpool need to rip up the drawing board - it means they need to keep at it and practise more.
Signings would be helpful. It does seem strange not to pay £7 million for Clint Dempsey, even if he is 29. Right now an element of short term thinking is necessary, because Liverpool need to be in the Champions League to reach their potential. But they also need a new stadium, and that has to be financed from somewhere. Taking out a loan at a good interest rate would help to build that stadium, but that would just reduce the funding for transfers more. Either way, decisive action is need at Anfield to turn them around. But Rodgers is a firm, decisive man with conviction. His direction, supported by the club owners as it appears to be despite rumours to the contrary, is what Liverpool need. But it will take time.