“It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” sang Andy Williams in 1963 and he wasn’t far wrong. To millions of people across the world, Christmas is the time for celebration, spending moments with those closest to you and reflecting on what has been a joyful year. Each year around this time, the countdown to Christmas begins with most hoping that it would come sooner rather than later. But for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers the opposite is true with the Northern Irish boss wanting to delay the onslaught of Christmas as he battles to save his job. After a mixed start to the new season Rodgers is living in fear that he may be out of a job as the holiday season draws in. Saturday’s 1-1 disappointing draw with Norwich highlighted some of the issues that Rodgers faces. Without a win in the last five games, Liverpool’s season is on the rocks and their manager fearing what is to come. Like Scrooge, Rodgers has three ghosts that haunt him – the past, the present and the future.
During his time at Liverpool, Rodgers has been haunted by what could have been. Large outlays of money have been spent building squad after squad for regret to be its only reward. Failed signings like Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas, Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli have shown Rodgers scattergun approach in the transfer market, often buying players on impulse rather than with a view to how he will include them in his starting line up. Season after season players arrive to much fanfare only to eventually be absorbed into the budging Liverpool squad never to be seen again. Of the 31 players he has brought in for an average fee of £9 million, arguably only six (Joe Allen, Phillipe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Emre Can, Christian Benteke and Nathaniel Clyne) have proven to be valuable additions so far. Recent arrivals like James Milner, Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino need to be given a grace period and could prove to be good acquisitions as the season progresses but regardless that still means that 60% of all of Rodgers signings have been a disaster. That is a lot of money with little to show for it.
Liverpool did come close to winning the league two seasons ago when the talents of Luis Suarez and an in form Daniel Sturridge almost fired them to glory. Rodgers received a lot of praise based on that campaign but questions have been raised about how much he actually did in that year or more importantly how much he didn’t do. Liverpool played with the same formation for a majority of the season and it worked in the most however when they fell behind in games or in the case of Crystal Palace when leading 3-0, Rodgers failure to change his approach when Palace changed theirs cost Liverpool dearly. Three second half goals cost Liverpool a valuable 2 points which went along way to costing them the title.
The present isn’t any better. Having sold Sterling in the summer, Rodgers failed to heed the warnings from his past and once again splashed the cash. In came James Milner, Christian Benteke, Nathaniel Clyne, Roberto Firmino, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez but few have been a success so far. How they exactly fit into a new look Liverpool line up is still be understood as Rodgers continues to baffle pundits and fans alike who are trying hard to decipher it. Six games in to the new campaign, Liverpool occupy 13th place in the table following two wins, two draws and two defeats so far. But it’s there performances that have caused the most concern. Defensive against Norwich and gung-ho against Manchester United, Rodgers alters his style but not his formation which is the fundamental issue. The problem is that Rodgers tactical knowledge is severely lacking and his players are paying the penalty. Instead of working a formation with the players he has, Rodgers is putting square pegs in round holes as he tries to play his formation. The result has Ings on the left-wing, Joe Gomez covering at left back and Roberto Firmino running around like a headless chicken often glancing towards the bench for guidance. Liverpool’s next five games in the league – Aston Villa, Everton, Spurs, Southampton and Chelsea all pose different threats and will not make Rodgers next month easy, heaping more pressure on the under fire boss.
So what about the future? It doesn’t look good for Rodgers unless he can turn it around and quickly. Jurgen Klopp sits quietly watching as Rodgers desperately tries to make up for his past misgivings and current misfortunes. Having survived the cull in the summer, preferring instead to throw his assistants Mike Marsh and Colin Pascoe under the bus, Rodgers is on borrowed time. Another action packed summer of signings took his spend as Liverpool boss to biblical proportions. In three years as Liverpool boss, Rodgers has spent just under £300 million revamping his squad season after season. Take in to consideration that amount versus the amount Arsenal has spent in 19 years under Wenger (£515 million) or Sir Alex Ferguson spend at United in his 27 years (£563 million). Both men built sides that won leagues and cups yet Rodgers is yet to deliver a single piece of silverware. He may be looking to build a similar dynasty as Wenger and Ferguson but has little to show for it at this point. Unfortunately for Rodgers time is not something that is on his side. The clubs US owners are growing tired of his failure to deliver and may be forced to make a change sooner rather than later. With a majority of Liverpool fans supporting a change, Christmas may come early for them if the club decides to finally end the madness and sack Rodgers in the next few weeks.