Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Brendan Rodgered?

Problems at Anfield have become all too frequent for many years now. But even during all the long years under the shadow from Old Trafford there has always been light at the end of the famous tunnel in the shape of some fine cup wins and one famous night in Istanbul.

Along the way there have been a myriad of fine players that have represented the club such as Gerrard, Michael Owen, Torres and Xavi Alonso and always some kind of hope that a genuine title challenge could be mustered. Those hopes are distant ones now with the size of the problems at Liverpool becoming worryingly apparent.

That is not to say that things cannot be rectified, in Brendan Rodgers they have a manager - that this blog believes certainly - that can chart a long term overhaul of the club. It is however a long term project and it is in danger of being derailed early in the process.

The cusp of the current issue surrounds deadline day which in itself begs several questions about the running of a club. Deadline day is something that should be avoided, not something for clubs to swarm around. The sound business is done early in the transfer window with the deadline day required only for tweaks or adjustments such as Real Madrid taking the option of Michael Essien as a squad player.

Liverpool it seems were awfully disorganised last Friday and allowed Andy Carroll to go out on loan without securing a replacement. The word being that Clint Dempsey was Rodgers' preferred replacement only to be told that FSG would not stump up the cash.

FSG are on a steep learning curve. They allowed Dalglish and Comoli to go bananas last Summer on a vast array of mediocre fare such as Henderson, Adam and Downing which when all added up was a pretty penny.

Liverpool's finances prior to this were not in particularly great shape in any event due to the handicap of Anfield's relatively paltry gate receipts and the sizeable spending under Rafa Benitez again often on questionable signings (Reina, Alonso and Torres excluded).

It is therefore no surprise that FSG wish to use a more concerted strategy and approach, concentrating on younger players with potential and resale value. Clint Dempsey at 29 years old offered none of that, he did however offer an immediate boost to the team in terms of his proven goal threat.

So here is the rub. Brendan Rodgers insisted on being in charge of footballing matters prior to joining. The idea of a director of football was kicked in to touch. If that were to be completely true ala Sir Alex Ferguson, then FSG's job is to advise Rodgers how much money is there and it his decision on whom to spend it.

What appears to have happened here is that FSG would not sanction the move due to Dempsey's age in an entirely opposite approach to the Glazers who sanctioned the huge outlay for the 29 year old Robin Van Persie. So is Brendan Rodgers in charge of footballing matters after all? It seems not.

American owners hail from a land of franchises and salary caps where budgets are generally met. In instances such as the LA Dodgers, tales of financial mismanagement are met with widespread derision. Financial prudence should be expected and to a large degree welcomed, just ask Leeds United or Rangers fans.

Where the line appears to have been crossed is that when a budget is available and FSG feels that their valuation of a player is more accurate than their managers'.

The view of this blog is that in both Van Persie's and Dempsey's case, the clubs paid over the odds for both players who will have little resale value and are already at their peaks. ManYoo will argue that should Van Persie fire them to the title and the latter stages of the CL that he was cheap and they would have a point.

The problem also with such a simplified view is that it does not allow the manager - looking at the wider picture - to mould the squad as he sees fit. If Dempsey were to repeat his goalscoring heroics of last season and move Liverpool up the table then they too could argue he was worth the money given the riches on offer closer to the summit

This current spat is probably no more than that but it is possibly showing that football is beginning to change with owners starting to flex their 'no' muscles a little more. Several managers have felt irked over the Summer at the perceived 'lack of support' from their boards but the reality is that clubs are simply maxed out.

Liverpool are for example paying Joe Cole 100,000 pounds a week, with 40,000 crowds and little corporate money and no Champions League revenues (or hope of them in the short term), that is simply too much.

Brendan Rodgers did not create the problems at Anfield, nor did he spend the money of the previous regimes. It does appear however that for the time being, he is going to have to pick up the tab, life at Swansea was never this complicated - No Nonsense.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Premiership is up and running

Three games in to the new season and the runners and riders are starting to take shape. None of the teams expected to be challenging for the title have played each other yet however meaning we're still without a clear picture of how the title battle will shape up. We can however make an assessment of the Premiership teams so far.

With the new array of attacking talent, Chelsea will be far too good for most teams. The problem however is with such vast quantities spent, Di Matteo's team will have to 'come out and play' in the big games and it remains to be seen how they will fare.

Chelsea were torn apart by Atletico Madird on Friday night and their record against the top teams in the league last year was poor. The jury is still out and they need to improve defensively quickly.

Michael Laudrup has enjoyed a fantastic start but there were signs against Sunderland of a soft centre. Swansea have been a suprisingly pleasant addition to the Premiership and they should be more than good enough to stay up.

West Brom
Good number twos aren't always successful managers but Steve Clarke has enjoyed a magnificent start to his managerial career. An excellent win against in form Everton is a good indicator that this perennial yo-yo club can again stay up.

Man City
The blue machine is rumbling to life after their stutter against Liverpool. They will be there or there abouts for the title without question with quality throughout their ranks. Europe could provide a distraction however.

Man Yoo
For long periods against Southampton they were terrible with an aged and creaking midfield and central defence. Despite that they still won. Ferguson gives them an incredible edge and Van Persie looks to have slotted in without blinking.

ManYoo will be pushing City hard for the title but they should struggle in the latter stages of the Champions League where their lack of mobility in central areas will be a problem.

Quick out of the blocks for once before slipping up at the Hawthorns. Everton have good players but the squad is thread bare. Should push for a European spot for sure.

West Ham
Love him or hate him Sam Allardyce gets results. West Ham should easily be good enough to consolidate their Premiership status and Andy Carroll may prove an excellent loan signing if he stays out of the capital's nightclubs.

As usual they have sold their best players and seemingly replaced them with inferior ones, Carzola looks a quality purchase however. They will continue to flatter to deceive and win nothing, should make the Champions League spots.

It will be another long hard season for Wigan and there is no reason to expect anything else. Will be a nailbiter to the end to stay up.

A tough season for the Geordies as expectations are higher now and it is hard to see them repeating last years' heroics. A top half finish should be guaranteed however as they have serveral fine players.

Have lost two good players but have gained Dimitar Berbatov who remains utter class. Should be good enough for a mid table finish.

There is a feeling that Pulis has 'taken them as far as he can' but like clubs such as Charlton before, Stoke should be careful of trying to change what has been a successful formula.

Stoke will remain hard to beat and will pick up enough points but hard to see the side progressing from previous seasons.

What Martin O'Neil lacks in tactical accumen, he more than makes up for in motivational powers. Sunderland have added quality in Adam Johnson and he should provide good service for Stephen Fletcher. They will be aiming for a top half finish.

This season was always going to be tough and so it is proving. The losses of Modric and Van Der Vaart have been offset by the arrivals of Dembele and Dempsey. Dreams of the Champions League will remain just that however in what is a crunch season for AVB.

Could be a tough season for the Canaries after last year's heroics and a season long battle with relegation looms for them.

Early days for the newly promoted side but again they would appear to have little to look forward to other than the bottom end of the table. They will have to fight hard to avoid the drop.

Aston Villa
Paul Lambert performed heroics at Norwich and remains a gifted young manager. There is a suspicion however that he may have underestimated the size of the job at Villa Park.

Villa's squad looks woefully inadequate in all departments and whilst they should be able to stay in mid table, there is a reason that many pundits are tipping them for the drop.

In the relegation zone after 3 matches was not what Brendan Rodgers was hoping for. Two dire perfomances against West Brom and Arsenal sandwich a fighting performance against the champions. Rodgers is attempting to change the club's philosophy from the bottom up and the Liverpool fans need to think about where they want to be in five years time, not in the next five minutes.

They should start to improve markedly after Christmas once the new ideas bed in. European football next year is not out of the question. Regardless of their change in approach, allowing Andy Carroll to go out on loan with no replacement looks incredibly short sighted however as he provides a fantastic 'Plan B'.

The Loftus Road side took an elephant gun to the transfer market but have so far come up hopelessly short. The squad looks sizeable and it is certainly not a cheap one. Something however seems to be wrong with the team and Mark Hughes need to get to grips with things quickly or it could be another tough season.

Whilst it is good to see the South coast team back in the big time, there is a suspicion that the stay could be a short one unless they start to mature quickly. They do have some decent players and a genuine goal threat in Ricky Lambert but the Premiership is a tough place to learn as they found out yesterday againt ManYoo. Will be tough to stay up.