Finally the fruits of Brendan Rodgers work on the training ground appear to be paying dividends. Last weekends Premier League thumping of Norwich at Carrow Road was full of pass and move football, the football that Rodgers so successfully espoused at Swansea last year.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, this transformation has taken slightly longer than was hoped for. Although Rodgers’ American overlords have repeatedly stressed the importance of finishing as high as possible in the league, their poor start to the season has seriously hamstrung Rodgers attempts to legitimately challenge for a Champions League place.
This is not surprising considering that Rodgers has to offload(Andy Carroll) or drop(Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing) the expensive remnants of Kenny Daglish’s squad. How Rodgers would have loved to have seventy million pounds to lavish on expensive flops. This is not to give Rodgers a free pass in his summer transfer dealings. Fabio Borini has failed to ignite so far. Interestingly his performances have not been questioned to nearly the same degree as a simlar summer signing, Olivier Giroud. This may be reflective of the current state of the two clubs. Bearing Liverpool’s poor league standing in mind, it would be in Rodgers interests to have a proper go at winning a cup competition. While winning the Carling Cup was not enough to save Kenny Daglish, one feels that if Rodgers can win a cup in his first season in charge and manages a top half finish in the league, the American pay masters will give Rodgers extra time to shape the squad in his image.
While many managers complain about the rigours of the Europa League, this is a direct contradiction to the aim of finishing as high as possible in the league. What exactly is the point in a team struggling through thirty eight games in the league to merely reject the rewards on offer. Andre Villas Boas said as much this week when he highlighted the importance of the Europa League for those teams that have qualified for it.
Granted, it is undoubtedly a large step down from the glamour and standard of its big brother, the Champions League but it still remains a European competition that is a considerable achievement to win.
Rodgers use of youth across all competitions is admirable regardless of whether the limits of the squad he inherited had a major bearing on this. Although his weakened side lost against Udinese last night, Liverpool and the club’s famous European heritage should pay the competition the respect the Reds’ European tradition deserves.