Shankly football news: Reds right to stick with Rodgers

As we come to the end of 2014; it is unavoidable to say that the majority of Liverpool football fans wouldn’t ever have expected to be finishing the year still in search of our 19th league title.

Struggling in 8th place in the subsequent Premier League campaign. Especially given where we were 12 months ago.

Football is a harsh task master however and it is how you recover from these setbacks that ultimately sets you apart from others.

A good start to the year

Last night’s 4-1 win against Swansea was an ideal tonic to take us in to 2015. We have a good run of games on paper, and two games in sees us with 6 points out of 6.

Next we look forward to welcoming Leicester to Anfield. An ideal opportunity to build momentum to try and retain our top four status.

A month ago; I’d probably have said Liverpool football club had no chance of making the top four. However we now find ourselves five points off the 4th spot, by no means an insurmountable target.

A new source if optimism

The dwindling points difference is by no means the source of optimism for trying to gate crash the top four. It is a factor of course, but the means of there is another source of positivity.

Brendan Rodgers seems to have found the formula to make Liverpool football club threatening again. The formula that sees us pressing high up the pitch looking much more like the LFC of last season.

The right man for the job

Liverpool football manager Brendan Rodgers

When our season seemed to be imploding and the manager was taking some quite astounding criticism; I however, remained firm in my point of view. I said he was still the right man for the job and that his task was quite clear. He needed to go back to basics.

Trying to make the formation and system we used last season work in this one was clearly the wrong move.

It was no longer fit for purpose.

Why? Because it was geared around getting the best out of players either no longer at the club or those unavailable to play.

The task was to find a plan ‘b’. A new formation that allowed him to get all his best players in the same 11 that would get the best out of them.

Step forward the 3-4-3.

I have to say; on paper it isn’t a formation that I ever thought I would like. It’s a formation that at the back certainly leaves space for exploitation. Brendan however, has utilised it and the selected the right personnel to carry it out.

This formation allows Rodgers to play all the best players in the team at once together at optimum performance.

Previously players like Lallana and Coutinho were being rotated far too often. They couldn’t be accommodated in the old system. Coutinho’s case in particular, whose form, for a player of unquestionable ability was inconsistent to put it mildly.

Lallana & Coutinho Liverpool football

With Sturridge injured, Borini seemingly out of favour and Mario Balloteli being, well; Mario Balloteli, the threat up front was pretty non-existent. This for a team who last year outscored every other.

It was no surprise therefore that when the 3-4-3 was deployed, eyebrows were raised. Three front players, none of whom were out and out strikers playing for a team that had been struggling to score goals all season.

It has however worked. Gary Neville said on MNF last night that Liverpool football club have got their threat back.

As a fan, it certainly feels that way. Dare I say it feels like we are exciting to watch again.

Credit to Brendan Rodgers

In the face of mounting pressure; Rodgers sat down with his staff and went about finding a new system to take us forward. A system that gives us our attacking threat back and addresses defensive frailties. Bringing the best out of our available players.

The boy genius returns

I said at the end of last season that Coutinho could and would fill attacking voids left by the departure of players in the Summer. The boy is a genius on his day, a little magician who can run games. Sadly his form this season has been far too inconsistent.

Coutinho Liverpool football

By deploying him ‘upfront’ he has the freedom to go anywhere he likes on the pitch. No longer shackled by defensive duties that come with being part of a midfield three. He has revelled as a result, and his performances have been much more consistent. Getting amongst the goals and contributing numerous assists, culminating in a fantastic performance against Swansea last night.

A spot on purchase prediction

Another star from last nights game Adam Lallana. Now coming forward into a more central role. His two goals last night, although both polar opposites; were typical of the player. The first, sheer dogged determination reaping dividends. The second, an example of the exquisite ability, balance and composure he has on the ball.

Shankly Hotel in Liverpoolp160823-059-burton_liverpool-1

Carra spoke on MNF about his ability and two footedness being reminiscent of a continental player. An educated point to make.

Last season when I was asked who we should buy Lallana was the first name on my list.  He hasn’t disappointed and will only get better.

Our new front three…and Leiva

The front three of Sterling, Coutinho and Lallana are all willing to close down and press. A key factor for the style of play that Rodgers likes and of our success last year. A value that was absent from our play earlier in the year when the likes of Balloteli was starting. Now present once again and vital that the pressing starts from the front before spreading to the rest of the team.

A mention should also go to Lucas Leiva who was fast becoming a forgotten man. His restoration to the first team fold has coincided with our upturn in form. Leiva has brought a solidness we were missing and has also been a key advocate of the pressing style.

Football is fickle

For me, it goes to show that sticking by the manager was the right option. Don’t get me wrong; top 4 is by no means guaranteed. A few decent results means nothing.

The next couple of months will be telling but I think Rodgers has answered some of his critics. Taking things back to basics and implementing a system that, for the time being, seems to have given us our threat and stability back.

Football is a fickle game, last season Rodgers was untouchable. The minute it starts to go wrong, some fans default to asking for the managers head without giving them the chance to put it right.

Look at West Brom. They sacked Irvine last night in the face of poor results but what do they expect?

Gary Neville hit the nail on the head last night. Somewhere between 14th-17th is where they are gong to be expected to finish. There is still half a season left to play so why not give him the chance to get them there rather than shooting from the hip at the midway point.

Steadying the ship

For me it was the same for Rodgers. He had earned his right to be given time to put it right. Fingers crossed he has started to do that. Sacking him and staring again would achieve little.


He is a good young manager and we should get behind him as he seeks to steady the ship. All in the wake of a fairly traumatic end to last season and the subsequent Summer exodus of the Liverpool football clubs best player.

Just some general observations; Leicester away, feeling good, the role of the Captain, Mignolet madness, Sunderland and those referees!

by Bill’s grandson Christopher William Shankly Carline

On the eve of yesterday’s game with Sunderland, I have to admit, I felt good again.

The way in which we ground our results against Stoke and then Leicester had left a nice feeling in my stomach that had been absent for the past few weeks, if not months. Call it overly optimistic if you like (and believe me Im usually the pessimist), wins against a mid table Stoke side at home and against a rock bottom Leicester are hardly the cue to state we’re on our way back to the form of last season, but based on previous months where it looked like we couldn’t buy a win, let alone a clean sheet, meant I was feeling good.

Tuesday night’s trip to Leicester was especially pleasing. An early dart from work at half 3 and driving down to the King Power isn’t usually my away day modus operandi but needs must! On a cold evening in the midlands, the way in which we fought back from one down deserves credit. The game was notable for a few things for me in addition to the steely resolve we showed.

Mignolet’s increasing persistence to give Liverpool fan’s heart failure was again at the fore. Whilst he was unfortunate with the own goal, his pass that presented Leicester with an open goal that they failed to convert was quite inexplicable. I said it 18 months ago when he was signed; that we shouldn’t have gotten rid of Pepe Reina and that it if he didn’t show command and dominance of his penalty area like Pepe it would upset the back four. I was bang right. The goalkeeper is for me, the majority reason as to why we have been so poor defensively. Simple as that. His nervousness, limitations in the air and inability to command have made the back four nervous. How else do you account for international defenders all of a sudden being incapable of keeping a clean sheet against even the poorest forward lines. There isn’t an anomaly, you can clearly chart the situation on a timeline with the keeper’s arrival. The problem we have is that there is no competition for him and he knows it!

A second point from the game was the role of the captain. I’ve long said that Liverpool wrote him off in an attacking midfielders role too early. It was like he hit 30/31 and he had to go to the sitting midfield role. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200; or rather do not pass the halfway line and do not collect any goals. All of a sudden we have woken up to this and he is being deployed further forward; with us reaping rewards. We saw flashes of it at Ludogorets, for 20 minutes against Stoke and against Leicester. Whilst Steven may not quite have the legs for the lung busting runs beyond the striker, he does still possess his exquisite passing range, touch and ability to shoot and hold the ball. With players like Lallana , Henderson and Lucas doing some of his running for him; he can thrive in the number 10 role. His goal against Leicester with the late run into the penalty area was typical Gerrard and his celebration coupled with our celebration as fans as he ran towards us felt like group therapy for what we all knew. The captain is far from finished. What Liverpool must ensure however is if he plays there, he needs runners ahead of him, with pace. At Leicester, Sterling was the only out ball in that effect; as Lambert offers much more of an aerial, operating on the line presence rather than beyond it. Surely Sturridge’s return in that respect can’t come soon enough.

I mentioned momentarily the role of Sterling above. I thought at Leicester, his selfless running showed how his game has matured; but much more so; the way he dealt with the over physical treatment from Leicester and the lack of protection from the referee was a sign of his evolution into a complete footballer both physically and mentally. The fact that he left the field on Tuesday heavily limping was exacerbated by the poor performance of the referee and officials.

The FA this week released their ‘DNA’ blueprint for England being World Champions in 2022. They want to go about turning their attention to addressing the sub standard performance of officials in this country and the processes behind being unable to address it. Lee Mason’s performance was extremely poor against Leicester. He allowed Sterling to be kicked from pillar to post with no protection. And before people say it; I know it is a contact sport and I personally relish the physical side of the game and applaud good hard tackles, but a foul is a foul, and when it constantly isn’t picked up it becomes a joke. None the least, the blatant penalty on Steven Gerrard following Schmeichel’s foul, which clearly wasn’t given because Mason felt he would have to send him off and clearly wasn’t prepared to having already dismissed Morgan. It is these discrepancies and inconsistencies that have dogged officials in this country for years. The 4th Official clearly saw it was a penalty, but did nothing as he looked to the referee first; saw he was giving nothing and shirked the responsibility. It happens like that every week. It is therefore even more galling that in addition to not addressing the woeful standard of officiating; managers and players are unable to speak out about it for fear of fine or sanction; and that referees are not made to be held accountable for their actions. The FA clearly don’t connect the dots between the impact these decisions have and other issues in the game. Is it any wonder trouble breaks out between fans at times when they are constantly on the receiving end of these poor decisions. Manager’s lose jobs, and players suffer in their careers all as knock on effects, yet the FA throw a shroud over the situation year on year and ban people from talking about it. When a player messes up on the pitch or a manager messes up tactically, he is made to answer to fans and the press and/or governing bodies based on what they have perpetrated. Why aren’t referees? The FA invests so much money in campaigns and projects. It is about time they addressed the elephant in the room and did something to encourage and bring through officials of a good standard rather than those who ruin our beautiful game week in week out.

So it all brings me back full circle to feeling good on the eve of the Sunderland game. The 0-0 draw left me in a bad mood so my pre match feel good factor was soon replaced by frustration mote than anything. A chance to notch 3 wins from 3 for the first since April gone. The game itself was a non entity you feel. We huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow the house down. An observation I am keen to make however is the style of play around Lambert. Rickie is our only real choice up front at the moment (Borini seems to be in exile!) We al know what his weaknesses are and we all know his strengths. He has no pace and isn’t going to run in behind, but he is good in the air and can bring others into the game. At Liverpool last year, the front three was all made up of quick players who liked to run in behind and could play on the shoulder. As a result, Liverpool’s build up play meant patience and working the ball into positions around the penalty area wherby looking to create an opening. That won’t work for Lambert. We will be playing round the edge of the penalty area all day as he isn’t going to run in behind or between centre halves.

That is however how it felt yesterday. Like we were waiting for something that wasn’t going to happen. We had so many occasions when we could have thrown a decent ball into him from wide areas, but instead overplayed it waiting for something else. That has got to stop. If he is going to play, we have to work the ball into decent areas where we can then fathom a decent crossing chance; and look to react to knock downs if nothing else.

Whilst a 0-0 draw was a frustrating result, we go into the must win with Basel on Tuesday unbeaten in 3 and with a positive air in camp.