As the full-time whistle was blown at Carrow road, the score-line read; Norwich City 2-5 Liverpool. This was Brendan Rodgers’s first win in the league as a Liverpool manager, six games into the season. If the score-line was impressive, a look at the statistics of the game will impress even further, Liverpool had 67% possession and played a total of 700 passes with 90% reaching the target. Simply put Norwich were ‘passed-to-death’ by an impressive Liverpool side. The purpose of highlighting all these stats is to put into perspective the way Brendan Rodgers wants Liverpool to play. Keep the ball, pass it around..plain and simple
The season began with much optimism and positivity around Anfield with promise of a ‘European’ brand of football, but five games into the season and Liverpool were still without a win in the league. Three defeats in the opening 5 games had some sections of Liverpool supporters already doubting the credentials of the newly appointed manager. However, five games is not a time frame on which you can judge a manager’s ability and only a madman will be calling for the manager’s head right about now.
5 points in 6 games is not exactly a bright start but clearly there is light at the end of the tunnel. Right from the start of the season, Rodgers’s style was evident in Liverpool’s game. Against West Brom on opening day they controlled a lot of the first half till Daniel Agger was sent off, although after that they just seemed rudderless and went down 3-0. A harsh score-line but the right result. Liverpool purely dominated visiting champions Manchester City with their passing and pressing but were eventually undone by two individual errors, denying Rodgers a deserving first win in front of the home crowd, with the game ending 2-2. Games against Arsenal, Sunderland and Manchester United followed with Liverpool still without a win.
Liverpool fans have to look at the positives here, and there are a few; Liverpool are showing signs of integrating the style Rodgers wants them to play. They are rising to the level of the high-intensity, passing game. Liverpool’s pressing has been superb this season; as soon as they lose the ball, Liverpool players crowd the opposition and cut of their options for a pass, in fact many of their chances have come from this high-pressing style, Luis Suarez scored Liverpool’s second against Norwich by robbing Michael Turner of the ball before scoring.
Secondly, they have passed the ball around well although they do look short of creativity sometimes in the final third, however with every subsequent game and some tactical changes things will improve. Allen has been a real bargain even at 15million as he has kept Liverpool ticking from the centre and he also rarely given the ball away while constantly clocking 90+% passing accuracy almost every game. Steven Gerrard has still shown he is capable of making those dangerous runs and driving Liverpool. Rodgers has used his midfield well.
Thirdly ,and most importantly Brendan Rodgers has handed opportunities to youngsters such as winger Raheem Sterling, Spanish starlet Suso, defender Andre Wisdom, Adam Morgan, Jonjo Shelvey, Coates. Raheem Sterling has done particularly well, and has kept out Stewart Downing on the bench. The young winger has shown great promise with his pace and dribbling down the flanks, which even resulted in a call-up to the senior England side against Ukraine. Jonjo Shelvey and Suso have flourished under Rodgers in midfield. Rodgers has shown he will give chance to youngsters and Liverpool’s academy shows great promise for the future. Strikers Samed Yesil, Adam Morgan and the youngest player to represent Liverpool, Jerome Sinclair, are ones to look out for in the coming seasons.
Rodgers’s side have been doing well in Cup competitions where they remain undefeated and this recent win against Norwich will only strengthen the side and boost confidence. Brendan Rodgers is a tactically astute manager despite being 39. Rodgers has a vision where he wants Liverpool to be and how to get there, he has the ambition and hunger to succeed, the very first day he came in, he said ‘’ I’ll fight for my life for this club.’’ Rodgers has the passion to take Liverpool ahead, but he needs time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so won’t a great side. Given time, Rodgers may just take Liverpool back to the Top.