Vital Liverpool editor Gavin Day shares his thoughts ahead of Sunday’s game as Swansea City host Liverpool
Vital Liverpool editor Gavin Day shares his thoughts ahead of Sunday’s game as Swansea City host Liverpool.
1. Lets start at the beginning with your manager appointment, and possibly that of our former manager Roberto Martinez. What happened with Martinez and what was the initial reaction to Rodgers getting the job?
Seemingly nobody knows the full story regarding our choice of new manager over the summer. It’s no secret Roberto Martinez met with the owners FSG but there are contrasting reasons as to why he didn’t get the job.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan said he turned it down whereas John Henry and co. claimed Brendan Rodgers was always their first choice but they had to look elsewhere partly to evaluate all options and partly because Rodgers initially distanced himself from the position.
Many fans felt at the time that a club of Liverpool’s size and stature should have been looking at a more experienced and successful calibre of manager (the return of Rafael Benitez was a popular choice). However once it became clear we were heading down the youthful long-term route both Martinez and Rodgers were considered as viable, if unspectacular, options by the majority of supporters.
Both are fine young managers with similar approaches to the game so many fans probably didn’t have a strong preference if asked to choose between the two. Martinez may have just edged it because of his additional seasons of Premier League experience but Rodgers got the nod and he has had the fans full support from day one.
2. What are your general thoughts on Rodgers now? Do you like him and do you hope he gets the time to change things around at Anfield? Do you think he can?
I like his footballing philosophies and he’s shown to be a brave manager so far; blooding youngsters, making tactical substitutions in the first half of games and playing around with formations.
He also talks a good game in front of the cameras although prone to the odd cliche and also a spot of brown-nosing (he repetitively praises the fans etc which can become a tad tiresome and look like he’s trying to win favour when results have not gone well).
Overall it’s still early days but progress is being made and as long as Rodgers is given time and backing in the transfer market I genuinely think he can be a success at Anfield.
3. There has been criticism over his decision to let Andy Carroll go not long after saying he could never let him leave due to the lack of strikers at the club. Is the board to blame for a lack of strikers?
Predominantly yes. Rodgers was open on the fact that Carroll didn’t really suit his style of football but he would only let him go if replacements were bought in. He fully expected at least Clint Dempsey to arrive before the window closed but ultimately the owners decided not to stump up the cash.
Other players such as Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy had pretty much made up their minds to leave for personal reasons before Rodgers had arrived so nobody can be blamed for their departures.
4. You signed Fabio Borini who did well for us in the Championship, what’s he been like for you so far this season?
Injured! He started off ok and scored a good goal in Europe but after an initial spell on the sidelines he returned briefly only to break a bone in his foot whilst on international duty. From what we’ve seen he certainly has potential for the future but I don’t see him as a natural goal scorer so I’m not 100% sure where he will ultimately fit into the team. Good work rate and awareness of others though.
5. And Joe Allen, your thoughts on the young midfielder?
Very solid. Not a spectacular player by any means but all sides need a player who does the unseen work which allows others the freedom to play. Great composure and understanding of the game. I’m sure he will continue to develop and grow into a top quality player for many years to come.
6. Some Swans fans were often frustrated with Rodgers towards the end of last season when his team often had all the possession in a game but were toothless up front and struggled to create chances. Is the same happening at Liverpool?
It is to a certain extent. We’ve been fortunate to have Luis Suarez who has continually created something out of nothing for himself and somehow, given the side’s struggles, he actually leads the way in the league’s scoring chart. In defence of Rodgers our problem is not so much the tactics etc but the personnel (as we alluded to earlier) – we don’t have any real options or alternatives up front to change things. Chances are being created in many games but, other than Suarez, nobody is converting them; hence the number of draws we’ve experienced.
7. What have been your strengths and weaknesses in your side so far?
The main weakness, as mentioned, is giving Suarez support in the goal scoring column. Also at the start of the season we were making way too many sloppy individual errors at the back most likely as a by-product of Rodgers’ penchant for retaining possession and playing it out of defence – we’ve been better in this regard of late though thankfully.
Strengths, other than the elusive Suarez, are harder to pinpoint. Whether a strength or not, I like the fact we have a strong British presence in the team these days. Not so long ago it was predominantly only Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher but now there’s the likes of Allen, Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey and Andre Wisdom playing regularly. We also have many other Brits coming through such as Jack Robinson and Jon Flanagan whilst expensive flops Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing, plus Joe Cole, also offer the squad a little depth.
Also the experience gained by all the youngsters will serve them well in the future.
8. Will Brendan Rodgers get money in the transfer window? If so, where should he look to strengthen?
Yes and he will invest it in the final third without doubt. The figure available will not be the £30 or £40m some previous managers have been given but Rodgers should at least get £10 or £15m plus what he can raise from shifting some players on. The forwards most regularly linked are Daniel Sturridge, Theo Walcott and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Any of whom would be a good acquisition.
9. Apart from maybe Suarez, what players should we look out for?
Steven Gerrard is of course still one of the world’s best but it is young Raheem Sterling who is capturing most of the non-Suarez related headlines.
After only a dozen or so games for the first-team it seems strange to be getting so carried away with a player but Sterling has certainly warranted the praise to date.
His pace, skill and directness clearly excite fans but, given he is only 17, it is the awareness, attitude and composure that really sets him aside.
It’s worrying to think where we would be without Sterling to be honest because behind Suarez he has probably been our most consistent performer this term.
10. What are your predictions for the game?
I doubt there will be much in it to be honest despite your recent 3-1 win at Anfield in the League Cup. A draw is nearly always a safe bet in our games currently so I’ll go for 1-1.
Thanks to Vital Liverpool for answering our questions.