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Monster Masch

Rodgers In

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Can't remember where, but I thought Rodgers (or one of the squad) said that one of the aims of passing at the back was to get the other team to come onto you to create space further up the pitch that Pepe and others could exploit with pinpoint long passes?

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Here you go NV, knock yourself out. Or don't.

 

The rest of you move along, nothing to see here. Just click the Back button and you'll be fine.

 

 

As I said in my previous post, I don't think that's the case. I think you deliberately ignore or dismiss evidence when it's presented as part of an argument you don't want to accept, simply because it reflects badly on Kenny's legacy. You seem to have a real issue with me pointing out the team he left behind, but in another breath concede he bought badly.

 

Still, it doesn't really matter. I just wanted to clarify what I meant by it. Rather than you continually using one line of my argument, I wanted to be totally clear. I'll probably elaborate further, as you've done the same thing several times in your reply.

 

 

I can't add anything to what I already said about this earlier in the thread. What you label as ignoring or dismissing evidence, most other people would see as simply disagreeing.

 

I posted in the "Time to give them some credit" thread about why I think you're taking your current line with me. You took exception to my criticism of you, but I was just pointing out facts. You only resurrected your "just bitter about Kenny" line towards me after misreading my post on the MF in September. In response to that post, you went off on one calling me biased and irrational, neglected to read my follow-up post explaining why I didn't mean what you thought I meant, and repeated your accusation over the following weeks and months, including one instance where you said I was in a "fragile mental state" about Kenny. If someone else had done that to you, you'd have absolutely torn them to fucking shreds. You know it, I know it, everyone else on this forum who's familiar with your posts knows it, so don't get stroppy with me for pointing it out.

 

The opinions I have that you disagree with and ascribe to my inability to be objective because of Kenny – on FSG, and on the state of the squad – are equally held by posters who aren't consumed with anger about Kenny. Dougie Do'ins is critical and suspicious of FSG, but he doesn't give a shit about Kenny being sacked because he never wanted him back in the first place, and doesn't hold him in the same regard as most others on here. LFD agrees with me that the squad Rodgers inherited is much better than you claim, but he's been one of FSG's most vocal supporters on here, despite not having wanted Kenny sacked.

 

If other people can reach these conclusions without their judgment being distorted by anger about Kenny, why are you so adamant that I can't?

 

 

Considering you've just quoted me saying ''I'll admit that it's a subjective claim' just a few inches above the bolded sentence, I think you're going to have a hard job making a credible case on that one, mate. Again, it doesn't really matter and it's certainly not relevant to the subject at hand. A subject I feel is getting a little lost.

 

 

I said you were treating it (the claim that the squad was poor) as fact because you said I wasn't being objective about it. The implication being that nobody who looked at the issue objectively could disagree with you. When you claim that someone who's being objective can only possibly reach one conclusion, then you're no longer talking about a matter of opinion, you're talking about a fact.

 

But you're right, this is a side issue. I've omitted several paragraphs from your reply where you've repeated the same thing.

 

 

Surely, if you read this back in the coming days, you'll be able to see how flippant and dismissive that sounds. It's as silly as dismissing an argument that Heskey isn't a good striker because it's only based on goals and assists. Erm, well, yeah: just like goals to a striker, results and league position are a fairly solid way to judge the quality and performance of a squad. It's not just a one-off, either; we've had three straight seasons of lower than acceptable finishes and, baring a miracle, is heading the same way again. If you take a squad which finished 7th and 6th in previous seasons, spend amounts which are unprecedented at this club, and then finish 8th, it's a solid indicating trend to show the squad isn't good enough.

 

We're not talking about the side Rafa took to 7th after finishing top four year on year, as well as challenging for titles the year before and reaching European Cup finals the year before that. We're talking about three seasons now, and a fourth on the horizon. Something's wrong with the squad, both in terms of quality and in depth. Now, as I keep saying, it's subjective and some might think Spearing or Carroll, or whomever else, are terrific. That's their opinion and, no matter how bonkers, it's their right. I just think, as is my right, that it's easy to break it down player-by-player and make a very strong argument why that's not the case. I certainly don't think pointing to a few odd positive bits is a strong case that we've got a good squad.

 

 

It's not flippant at all. It's looking at the situation on a case by case basis, analysing the context of each season, and concluding that in each case we should have finished higher than we did.

 

The squad that finished 7th in 2009/10 wasn't that much different from the one that was good enough to challenge for the title the previous season. The only thing that made the squad substantially weaker was losing Alonso, and that wasn't enough to make the difference between title contenders and a squad that barely scraped into Europe. (Although if one player can make such a difference, then surely that backs up my argument that we're not as far away as you claim from being a top side?) The main reason we did so poorly compared to the previous season was because Rafa reverted to his customary cautious tactics, rather than continuing with the expansive attacking football from the previous season's run-in. By the end of the season it was looking more and more likely that Rafa would be on his way in the summer, and the players just stopped trying for him, as players invariably do for managers who are on their way out.

 

In 2010/11 we were woefully mismanaged for the first half of the season, flirted with the relegation places, and were still only four points off the relegation zone when Kenny took over in January. While the rest of the country were bleating that nobody could possibly do any better than Hodgson given the shit squad that Rafa supposedly left him, virtually every Liverpool fan could see that his tactics were completely unsuited to getting the best out of the players we had. That being the case, I don't see how anybody can claim that 6th place was as good as our squad could have managed that season.

 

If you can accept the argument that our finishes in those two seasons were nowhere near an accurate reflection of the quality of the squad – and if you disagree I'm happy to debate it – then my suggestion that something similar occurred last season shouldn't seem particularly outlandish.

 

It's unusual that it happens three seasons in a row, granted, but the last few seasons have been a pretty unusual period in our history.

 

 

Sure, I’ll concede there are additional ways to judge the quality of a squad; none that cover up the most important aspects, though. Just in the same way as a striker’s ability to hold up the ball doesn’t cover for him not scoring. If it was a case that we had a good enough squad, but Kenny still finished 8th, then other questions arise.

 

It seems to me that you're actually blaming Kenny's management for our issues last season. If you're, as you appear to be, saying that it was his poor tactics and/or team choices and/or man-management which were a/the major factor in the underperformance of the side, it's quite something. You jumped straight in on the day he was sacked with the 'FSG go fuck yourselves' thread, and have beaten the 'FSG are ignorant' drum ever since. Surely you'd have to admit that, if you believed it was Kenny and not the lack of squad quality, that he put himself in that position.

 

Personally, I don't believe that it was all Kenny's tactics/man-management/team choices. It wasn't the major factor in the reason we had an issue last season. It was terrible waste and poor player procurement which was the major problem for Kenny in the end. I accept other influences, but the major one was poor player purchasing adding to a poor set of playing staff. Had we got [insert names of similar priced but vastly better quality players] instead of Carroll, Downing, Henderson, and Adam, we'd have done better on the pitch. We'd have had more goals, more assists, and a better league position because of it. We didn't lose because we left quality 'we'd be winning if they were playing' stars on the bench (I can show the players we put on the bench, if you'd like?), we finished 8th because Downing and Carroll, at £55m, scored four goals between them. Had we got better players, we'd have done better. Again, it's just another indicator of a poor squad.

 

 

In one breath you're saying Kenny bought badly, in the next you're saying he left a 'good' squad and it's just that he was 'largely to blame' for our performances, not the players. It's pretty inconsistent, especially when you add in your protestation at the way he was sacked. He either had a quality squad and his position rightly up for questioning, or the team wasn't good enough. It's a fine line to tread that he had a squad that was 'easily' good enough for fourth, wasted shit loads of money on average players, but also didn't deserve to have his position called into question.

 

 

I'm not disputing that we'd have done better if we'd had better players, that's a given. I'm saying we should have done better with the players we had. We didn't have many game-changers on the bench, but Maxi (13 goals in 35 games under Kenny) certainly spent too much time on it. More of him and less of Downing (2 in 46), and we'd have scored more goals – I don't see how that's in dispute. Ditto if there had been more practice at set-pieces for Adam (brilliant at Blackpool, awful for us), penalties for Adam, Kuyt, Gerrard and Suarez, and shooting for the whole team. In a season where so many games were drawn or lost by the odd goal, this could have made a huge difference to our results and league placing.

 

You're right, I am blaming Kenny's mistakes for finishing lower than we should have done, but it doesn't follow from that that I should automatically want him sacked. On the other hand I have never said "he didn't deserve to have his position called into question", or anything like that – I've said many times that he should only have been given one more season to show significant improvement, and if he still couldn't do it then I'd have had no complaints about him being sacked.

 

All managers make mistakes, even the best ones, but the best ones recognise them and put them right. Rafa was still making the same mistakes after six years, but you and plenty of others wanted him kept on because his record persuaded you he could turn things round after finishing 7th and presiding over some wretched performances over the course of the season. I personally agreed with the decision to dismiss him under the circumstances, as I didn't think he was the right man to take the team forward on a limited budget, but if FSG had taken over six months earlier than they did, paid off the club's debt and given him a decent transfer kitty, I'd have been more than happy for him to stay and have another crack.

 

I thought that Kenny's record justified giving him one last chance to correct his mistakes. He'd won four league titles with two different clubs, and he had us playing good football and winning games consistently for the first 12 months that he was here. I think he did struggle with some aspects of the modern game having been out of management for so long, particularly player motivation, but a man who's achieved as much in the game as he has is clearly no fool. It's not unreasonable to think that he could have recognised the mistakes he'd made and addressed them, especially with Clarke's help.

 

I've already explained to you more than once about my motivation for starting the FSG thread. I wasn't just angry about them sacking Kenny. I was already angry at the way they treated him over the Suarez affair, and at their inconsistency at giving him the boot and proclaiming their high expectations, all while keeping the utterly inept Ian Ayre in a job. If they'd had Kenny’s back over Suarez and told the country why we were so unhappy with the FA verdict, I wouldn't have started that thread. I'd still have been pissed off about the sacking, but I wouldn't have felt anywhere near that level of animosity towards them. As it is, I struggle to understand how any Red who loves Kenny and who cares about our club's reputation can look at the amount of shit he took for standing up for one of his players, then look at FSG's total silence over the matter, and not be fucking furious with them.

 

My comments about FSG since the sacking have been all about the way they messed Rodgers around in the summer. They have nothing to do with Kenny. FSG said Champions League football was vital, and they promised Rodgers that he wouldn't have to sell to buy, and that he'd have the final say over signings. Their conduct last summer went against all of those claims.

 

 

I'm not arguing that the earth is round. Again, I think I've been pretty clear on that. No matter how many times a flat earther told me I was ducking an argument, I'd have no intention of arguing with them. If you genuinely think that we didn't go more direct, with Carroll flicking the ball on, repeatedly, then I guess that's fine with me.

 

As for transitions, well, we're nowhere even close to a successful transition yet, but it'll take time and players. This 'ingrained mentality' you falsely presented as my argument, though, is nothing to do with me.

 

 

I do think we went more direct at times towards the end of the season, but that's not what you're saying, is it? It's a long, long way short of what you're saying. You're saying that the long ball to Carroll became our main style of play, and that as a consequence the players needed time this season to transition away from it and towards the way Rodgers wants us to play.

 

You never used the specific words "ingrained mentality", that was my doing, but that's the clear implication of what you were saying: that our players were so used to playing hoofball that it was going to take time to wean them off it. Which it wouldn't, as Kenny proved when he took over from Hodgson.

 

I think it's quite telling that you've declined several opportunities to list the games where you think we played long ball, or to comment on those games I've listed where I've said we didn't. I was thinking about reciprocating with the flat earther label, but on reflection I'd have you down on this issue as more of a creationist. Creationists like to throw some legitimate-looking evidence into the debate to begin with, but when that evidence is found to be useless under a bit of scrutiny, they decide that evidence isn't really important after all, and fall back on the "I know what the truth is and if you just can't see it, that's your problem" line. I don't bother debating with creationists any more than you do with flat earthers, so we'll just have to agree that we saw different things and that one of us is massively mistaken to the point of delusion. I'm sure you'll be ok with that.

 

 

I'm claiming you're not objective because I don't think you're objective. Nothing more. Given your outrage at his sacking and that you've just said 'I do feel the need to speak up for him', I think I've got a decent case. It's not a criticism, btw; sticking up for Kenny is fine. Claiming I'm all sorts of things because you don't want to declare your bias, however, is something I'm going to take issue with.

 

 

I refer you to what I've already said about not having read my post on the MF, and proceeding from there. You thought I was being unfair on FSG, and the reason I was doing that was because I couldn't get over them sacking Kenny. I completely reject that accusation.

 

 

Now the validity and accuracy of my claims are what we should be debating, not going back and quoting ourselves about who said what. I think what I'm saying is accurate, given what I've seen, but we can debate it. You calling it wild (and, indeed, me calling it accurate) doesn't make it any more so.

 

 

Truth? I don't often use that word. It's arrogant to proclaim to know what truth is. I just have opinions and evidence to back them up. My stance on Rodgers is in no way hypocritical. I expect exactly the same of him as I did Kenny: improvement relative to situation and expenditure. As I said, though; their tasks and resources are different.

 

 

The truth I was referring to in this instance is that long-ball football wasn't our main tactic at any stage last season. The reason I'm happy to use the word truth to describe my claim that it wasn't, is because it is the truth. It didn't happen. I'm not going to shy away from using the word just because you claim to have seen something different.

 

 

Oh, and I didn't write Kenny's project off after a bad half-season. I wrote it off after what I consider to be egregious wastes of money, stupid purchases on players who weren't worth a fraction of what we paid, and losing faith in what he wanted to do going forward. To be honest, the results didn't bother me that much. They bothered me, but it wasn't a scratch compared to the missed opportunities. I never called for Kenny's head, I just stopped believing his vision for the future was the right one. It wasn't even a conscious choice.

 

 

This is my entire point. You're quite happy to say that Kenny's signings can be definitively judged as failures after one season, while slamming anyone who does the same about Rodgers's signings. I'm not talking about justifying the price tag, although I'll come to that in a moment – I'm talking about improving enough in their second seasons to make a real contribution getting us back into the Champions League, which is what the club's immediate objective is.

 

Henderson was really poor last season, but he has improved a lot, as many people predicted he would. So much so that he's been keeping Rodgers's most expensive signing out of the side on merit. If you're going to use Henderson's signing to condemn Kenny, you condemn Rodgers equally.

 

Downing was also shit last season, but he's capable of much, much better than we saw. If he wasn't, if he never had a single league goal or assist to his name in his entire career, he wouldn't have been signed by Villa, let alone us. He wouldn't have won their fans' player of the year award, and he wouldn't have been capped by four different England managers. He's starting to show more of what he's capable of this season, even if that's not good enough for a starter in a side competing for top honours.

 

The only signing who's never going to be worth anywhere near what we paid for him is Carroll, but you've said yourself that you don't know how much Kenny can be held responsible for his pricetag given the circumstances surrounding his signing. Although I have to say I'm not sure just how sincere you were when you said that, or even how much you've thought it through, given the frequency with which the figures £35m and £100m plus pop up in your posts about Kenny's record. You really need to make your mind up.

 

That aside, Carroll showed clear signs of improvement at the end of last season after he was booed at St James's and realised he'd burned his bridges there. Criticise his mental application and Kenny's man management all you like for him not being properly focused until then – I have – but don't make out that we'd have been guaranteed a repeat performance of August to March last season if Kenny had been kept on this season. There is a lot more to Carroll's game than winning flick-ons and getting on the end of crosses.

 

Shit in first season at Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish = Shit forever, appears to be your formula. You've got absolutely no right whatsoever to be lecturing other people on showing patience towards Rodgers and his signings, not when you showed so little towards Kenny and his. Like I said, rank hypocrisy.

 

Also, if you want to judge Kenny on his transfer record, you might want to take into account the fact that he signed one of the best players in the world when we were miles away from playing Champions League football. If Suarez leaves we'll double our money at least, if he stays he has the potential to become one of the greatest players ever to pull on the shirt for us. You happily bang the drum about Carroll and Downing when you're judging Kenny's transfer record, but you rarely if ever give him any credit for signing Suarez. It's like defining Rafa's transfer record by Aquilani and Keane and forgetting Alonso and Torres ever existed.

 

 

The same is true of the signings Rodgers has made. If Sturridge, despite costing just over a third of Carroll, only scores 4 goals in the league going into the 14/15 season, then I'm going to write him off as a bad purchase. I'm just going to go out and do it. If he gets a £20m, 27 year old winger who has been pretty mediocre his entire career, but he scores none and creates none in an entire season. Fuck it, I'm going to say it was a tragic waste of money. Then I'm going to say that the next guy needs time and money to fix the problems he inherited.

 

 

So you wouldn't wait and see if Rodgers could correct his mistakes and improve those players in their second season? You'd bin him after one bad season in the transfer market as well? I thought you were against a revolving door policy?

 

 

So it's not even my 'on the rocks' comment that has set you off, you're still bitter about what I said about the way we played? Well, if you show me exactly what I said about it impacting our results this season (which, I'd wager, isn't much), I'll happily take up the debate.

 

 

No, your "on the rocks" comment did piss me off, because it came from the same place as your long-ball fiction that had previously pissed me off, namely your self-serving tendency to exaggerate the problems bequeathed to Rodgers by Kenny.

 

See further down for what I read as your views on the impact on results this season.

 

 

I said he needs time to make a transition. I don't think that's remotely controversial. He'd have needed time to make the transition regardless of when he took over, even if it had been at Christmas. I don't remember saying that impacts our results, although I am willing to say that it has some impact. Defending in the way he wants requires the right players, time, and practice. We haven't perfected it yet, and we might not even have the right players yet, but we have improved with practice. Our passing in the defensive third has been really quite good lately.

 

 

No argument from me that we're changing our style and the players will need to adapt to it, but changing from primarily a long-ball and/or crossing side to a passing side is not part of that transition.

 

I'd really like to know what these signs are that you've seen this season of us having to move away from a long-ball game. Two of our best passing performances so far under Rodgers were early in the season at home to City and United, when we outplayed them both with some great football and were unlucky not to win both games. Did we really look to you in those games like a side that was needing to be weaned off route one?

 

 

What utter garbage. As made up as your 'ingrained long ball mentality' fantasy.

 

 

Not garbage at all. Remember your line in the summer, "where was all the animosity towards FSG before Kenny was sacked"? You deployed this line repeatedly to discredit criticism of FSG over the summer, by inferring that the people criticising them were just motivated by anger about Kenny rather than actually having a point. That's what I was referring to with this:

 

 

You're self-evidently on a mission to discredit the opinions of people who challenge your views on Kenny, and by extension on FSG. You have been ever since he was sacked.

 

 

It was pointed out to you over the summer by numerous people, including me, that there was a lot of strongly worded criticism of FSG over the way they handled the Suarez affair, particularly after Handshakegate. You claimed that all you'd seen were some "mildly worded questions", when you clearly hadn't been following the discussion on here properly. I know you weren't following it, because if you had been you'd have been aware that I posted extensively about it, including starting a thread that ran to 12 pages. But when we had our initial exchange after Kenny was sacked, you said you'd never noticed my posts before.

 

 

I've addressed the shit out of them! I'm not sure quite what more I can say about why I think your summary of our squad and the reasons you give are nonsensical. I don't mind you saying what I've written is rubbish, but pretending I've not talked about them at length is a bit strange.

 

 

You haven't at all. You haven't engaged with any of my arguments about how we could and should have done better last season with exactly the same players, if Kenny had done things differently. The only observation you've made about any decision that Kenny took after September 1st 2011 is your long-ball fiction.

 

 

Not only is it a false comparison, it's not even a comparison. I'm not comparing anything, I'm saying you don't judge a team by where they are at Christmas. I used West Brom as an example of this, but I can pick out any side you like from a season in the last 20 years.

 

 

But you're happy to judge the quality of a team by its results in the second half of the season. You keep going on about how the team Rodgers inherited lost 11 of its last 19 league games. You can't have it both ways. If you're going to use results over a bad half-season to say that a squad is poor, you can't dismiss a preceding good half-season as irrelevant to the squad's quality.

 

 

No, you're conflating the two things. My saying that we 'lacked penetration, we were predictable, old-fashioned and ineffective' wasn't something I said about when we were losing most games in the second half of the season or playing more direct football. They're criticisms I've made of the team in the first half of the season when we were apparently playing 'brilliantly'.

 

 

I didn't link those things with the style of play, because those criticism weren't aimed at the second half of the season. Blackburn is how I saw Kenny's vision for us and how we were playing in the first half of the season. We were an old-fashioned side in the first half of the season, and we do need to move away from that. But it'll take players and it'll take time. That's got nothing to do with how we played in the second half of the season, though.

 

 

Right, so in the first half of the season, this "predictable, old-fashioned and ineffective" football had us punching massively above our weight, by your own estimation. On New Year's Eve after beating Newcastle we were 5th on goal difference, a position our squad apparently had no right to be in – you labelled my claim that the squad was good enough to get 4th "obscene".

 

Not sure what you mean by Blackburn being the model for our style of play. If you mean a reliance on crosses, which is what I'm assuming given your previous reference in this context to Downing being a main outlet for our play, then that's another inaccurate observation. Fewer than a quarter of our goals in the first half of the season came from crosses in open play, whether directly or indirectly (7 from 32 in league and League Cup), and fewer than a fifth over the whole season (15 from 79 in all competitions). Those are my own stats after watching all of our goals again.

 

We weren't primarily set up as a crossing side in the first half of the season, any more than we were a long-ball side in the second half of the season. If we had been, I'd have expected our virtually ever-present winger to have had slightly more assists than zero, given that we supposedly over-achieved dramatically in that period. I'd also have expected Kenny to make the big Geordie number 9 he signed for a British record transfer fee the centrepiece of his attack as he did at Blackburn, rather than moving him in and out of the team and dropping him when he found a bit of form.

 

 

I don't ever remember saying Kenny's style of play was responsible for poor results under Rodgers.

 

 

You've as good as said it in your very next sentence:

 

 

I'm saying the transition from one to the other takes time, comes with pitfalls, and will require better players.

 

 

What are these pitfalls if they're not things which could have an adverse impact on our results?

 

You also posted the following in November, which was when I first became aware of your belief that we'd turned into Wimbledon after Christmas:

 

 

That's just silly though, isn't it. The route to winning is possession (after all, it's really hard to score when the other team have the ball) and attacking intent and quality.

 

Other than a couple of games, we're nowhere close to playing a good possession game yet. It takes time to go from a team launching it directly to Carroll or out wide to Downing and back again, to a team which is naturally comfortable on the ball, with players who understand what their role is in the team.

 

 

I accept that you haven't said directly that the legacy of Kenny's style of play has had an impact on our results this season, it's something I've inferred it. I trust you can see how I reached that conclusion, as your language is pretty damning. However, if you're saying you genuinely don't think it has impacted on our results – and I mean not at all, not just that it's had a minimal effect – then I'll happily withdraw that particular charge and apologise for misreading you.

 

I will however continue to maintain that a) we didn't revert to a primarily long-ball game at any point last season, and b) even if we had, it wouldn't have had any consequences for the transition to Rodgers's desired style of play, as the squad is full of players who can play that way.

 

 

What the flying fuck are you going on about here? Can you expand on this, because I don't know what you're going on about.

 

 

"Mistakes" = adopting hoofball as the main tactic.

 

"Issues" = the side needing to make the transition from long-ball to passing football.

 

As I said, both non-existent, but both cited by you nonetheless.

 

 

How did Kenny resolve these issues? Maxi and Meireles had a lot to do with it, maybe Rodgers should play those two. Oh, wait. Those two, along with a £24m signing made his job a little easier in the transition from Hodgball. Had Rodgers - or any manager trying to take the team in the same direction - taken over the summer Kenny was given the job full-time, the transition would have been less than now. Mainly because he doesn't have to get away from the likes of Carroll, Downing and Adam, who are all built for a different way of playing football. Whether that's the right way or the wrong way (I personally believe it's the wrong way) is up for debate.

 

 

Carroll and Adam are no longer in the squad, so they have no bearing on how we might play this season. Downing has been a regular, so Rodgers clearly believes he's capable of contributing to a team that plays the way he wants it to play. Ditto Henderson. Most of the rest of the players were here in January 2011 when Kenny took over. Just like Kenny, then, Rodgers inherited a squad of players that are capable of making a swift transition from hoofball to passing football. Should that transition be required, which it isn't.

 

 

*facepalm*

 

The wheels are coming off your wagon pretty quickly, mate. You based your argument that the squad inherited by Rodgers was good because they challenge for top four for the first half of the season. Now you're saying it's not a reliable indicator of quality. [insert something yiddish sounding]

 

 

It's a reliable indicator if the manager is motivating the players properly, and getting his selections and tactics right so as to get the best out of the players at his disposal. It's not if he isn't. Pretty simple really.

 

 

Another wheel comes off. He got two major signings, Neil. One of them played five games before getting injured. If you think that's enough, you've gone crackers in the head. Seriously, you seem to think he had enough funds to rebuild what was left to him. I absolutely don't accept that. He had many players outgoing, some because they wanted to leave and some because they quite clearly weren't up to the task of playing the way he wants to eventually play. Two players don't rebuild a squad. If we had Sturridge in the summer, plus a fit Borini, maybe an outside push for top four would have a reasonable request. Shit, we might still manage it.

 

 

We didn't need to spend £15m on a midfield playmaker, certainly not one that's potential for the future rather than the finished article. The attack was the main area that needed addressing, that should have been the priority as far as spending was concerned. The money Rodgers had to spend was enough to more than compensate for the loss of Maxi, Bellamy and Kuyt if it had been spent properly.

 

Allen wasn't an essential signing, as demonstrated by the team is doing just fine at the moment without him. In Rodgers's defence I wonder if he'd have still signed Allen if he knew it would effectively use up the rest of his budget.

 

 

What makes Robinson good enough? Your say so? Is that all the evidence you require to vindicate your own assertion? Jack Robinson has made three league appearances in four seasons. Whilst a talented youngster - somebody to blood in a full strength side - he isn't somebody you can just give your stamp of approval and expect me to accept it makes that position strong enough to get fourth. Look at the squad strength of the teams occupying those positions. Which one of them has to either play a left back, use a kid who hasn't played in the league for a year and a half, or switch the right back to left back.

 

The very fact that you say there's nothing wrong with having Johnson at left back indicates to me that you're just happy to gloss over anything, regardless of how ropey. If the back-up to your first choice left back is your first choice right back, it's not solution at all.

 

 

Johnson excelled at left back in Kenny's caretaker half-season. Players can be good in more than one position, what's so hard to understand about that? Just because left back isn't someone's primary position doesn't mean they can't play well there. Carra was superb at LB in the treble season, Gallas played well at LB in Mourinho's first season at Chelsea, Flamini stood in effectively at LB the year Arsenal reached the Champions League final, Arbeloa has distinguished himself at LB both for us and Real. I'm sure I could find plenty more examples if I could be arsed.

 

Robinson is our third choice at left back, but you're talking as if I’m saying he can be relied upon to be first choice. Whenever he's played he's generally shown enough as regards positioning, tackling, decision-making and ability on the ball to give me confidence that he'd be good enough if he gets more regular football, and if he has to come in and deputise in an otherwise full-strength back line. He was poor against Oldham, but you can't judge him by occasional appearances in makeshift sides. Rodgers should have given him a go in the games where he played Downing at LB, it baffles me why he didn't.

 

 

I gave the teams of United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs. There was a reason I did this. It's the teams who 'finished top four' and also the team who got into Europe off the back of their win. Those are the teams, season in and season out, who we're going to have to compete with for a place in the top four.

 

 

* Double facepalm *

 

What possible bearing does the quality of the squads of United and City, last season's top two and most probably this season's top two, have on our ability to finish fourth? We don't have to finish above these sides to get into the top four. We have to finish fourth.

 

 

His first signing was a striker, he wanted an attacker for his last purchase too. FSG didn't pony the money up, so he didn't have the players. Rodgers can't be judged on what should have happened, not can the squad. That's an incredibly weak argument.

 

Now, could he have spent the Allen money on somebody else. Well, yeah, I guess he could. It's a judgement call, but there are reasons why he'd want Allen in there. Firstly, he wanted somebody in the engine room who knew what was expected of him. Second, he already got in a striker and thought he'd be getting another attacker. As it turned out, he got Allen, but Borini got injured and we didn't get the player he'd banked on. I think criticising him with hindsight is harsh, and I think judging him on what FSG should have done is even worse.

 

 

Just because Borini was his first signing doesn't mean he prioritised the striker position. Prioritising it would have meant ensuring he adequately replaced the attacking players he lost before moving on to other areas of the team. A 21-year-old with fewer than 30 top-flight games under his belt wasn't sufficient to do that.

 

I'm not judging Rodgers at all by the way, I'm assessing the quality of the squad as it was when he took over, and as it could have been on September 1st with the money that was made available to him. As I've said above, if he'd known he wouldn't be able to sign any more forward players, he might have held off on signing Allen.

 

 

Spearing isn't good enough. There's a reason why he could only get a loan to Bolton, rather than to a team challenging for the top four. It's because he's not good enough to do it. Again, you like the lad, I respect that and disagree. I don't think he's anywhere near good enough. Love the guy and his work rate, but good enough for what Rodgers is trying to do? Not on your nelly, IMO.

 

 

I was basing my judgment on his performances next to Lucas in Kenny's first half-season, which I thought were very good. He didn't look remotely out of place in a confident, fast passing side.

 

 

I know exactly what Rodgers said, I also know that he has played him all over the pitch. I know what he said, minutes after Downing scored and a little while before the window opens. If Downing keeps scoring and assists, that's fine, I'll want him in the team. However, let's not pretend like he inherited - which is what we're talking about - a player who did that every game.

 

Be honest, do you think Rodgers would prefer to go out and get a wide player who scored and assisted at a high rate and replace Downing? That's what he needs if we're going to get back in the top four. Not Downing, not Shelvey - who is as utterly shit as he is utterly brilliant, in near equal measure - and not Charlie Adam or Jay spearing. We need the level above these players, mate. I can't see how we can lose week after week, yet you can still be convinced that all bar a few of the 22 are good enough.

 

 

Of course we can do better than Downing. I was responding specifically to this sentence from you:

 

 

If your argument for having a good squad - or even a less bad squad than I'm saying - is Stewart '1 goal and assist in a season and a half' Downing, you're on the ropes.

 

 

Which was totally nonsensical and completely misrepresented what I was saying. I hadn't made any reference at all to Downing's quality, you were the one that brought that up. I quite specifically left him out in fact, because he'd been so bad last season. I was only talking about the fact that Rodgers clearly thought he was capable of fitting into a team that played the way Rodgers wanted it to play, unlike Carroll for example.

 

 

If FSG had given him the money? But they didn't, despite you saying he had enough. You seem to dart toward any excuse, when the logical answer is to honestly assess the squad he inherited. It lacked goals, even more so when the players who were sporadically scoring goals fucked off or were fucked off.

 

 

See above re Joe Allen. Priorities. I know he's a personal favourite of yours, but he's been average at best bar the first couple of months, and is currently being kept out of the side by one of Kenny's signings who's been widely derided as a waste of money. So if that £15m had gone on another attacker in the summer instead, I think it's fair to say there's a good chance we'd have been better off points-wise than we are now.

 

 

Sterling hasn't been coming into the first team to deputise for the first choice though, has he? He is the first choice. Suso was the first choice, but Downing seems to have won it back. That says a fair bit about how light we are in the attacking areas.

 

 

There was absolutely no need for both Sterling and Suso to be regular starters. Gerrard should have been played in the front three instead of further back in midfield where he was totally ineffective. Assaidi, a player signed by Rodgers, has barely had a look in despite looking decent when he's played.

 

 

Well, I guess we're just going to have to disagree about that. I thought it was a comprehensive drubbing.

 

To be fair, I gave you way too much credit. It wasn't even an argument at all, just a few hastily written lines about how Spearing was this or that without a single honest appraisal of our weaknesses, nor who we were competing against.

 

You talk about engaging fully, maybe if you presented something a little more extensive than 'cover in every position' for the back five, which is clearly wrong when you consider our second choice left back is our first choice right back. If our left and right backs get injured, we're left with Wisdom, who didn't play a league game before this season, and either our £20m winger or a young lad who has 3 league appearances under his fucking belt, the last being two seasons ago.

 

You want me to 'fully engage' with that? Get real. I wrote seven paragraphs in response to the few sentences you offered as some sort of argument why our squad was good. The cream of which was 'various other players of differing ability and consistency who he could still use'. What a line - which was about a fifth of your entire case - to put in an argument about how good the squad is. Tell me, how can I engage fully with THAT? 'players of differing ability'. Get out of town.

 

 

One more time: you've barely said a word about whether those same players could have achieved top four last season if Kenny had done things differently. Discussing that is what I mean when I talk about engaging fully with my argument.

 

 

Simplistic? Fucking hell, for as long as I've been watching football it has been held up as the unquestionable standard of where a side is. The league doesn't lie, they say. It might lie for one. It might even tell a fib on the second season. By the third season, and fourth season, maybe we might take a peek at the fucking squad?

 

 

The table doesn't lie, but it will mislead if you ask it the wrong question which it's not fully equipped to answer, like how good a particular squad is.

 

Sure, let's look at the squad, but let's look at the managers as well. I think when losing one player takes us from title contenders to 7th place the following season, or when one manager gets the 4th highest points total in a half-season after his predecessor has had us hanging around the relegation zone with virtually the same players, we need to consider other factors besides whether the players are good enough.

 

 

I don't think there's too much to debate about. There's only so much blood you can get out of a stone. Yes, I agree we could have used Maxi a bit more here, or dropped Downing a but more there. Take us from either into the top four, though? Nah. We just don't have the personnel at the moment, despite spending the money over several managers. We've lost great players and replaced them with mediocre ones at twice the cost. That's what is making Rodgers short-term task really hard.

 

 

There's plenty more we could debate. I've listed a number of factors which were within Kenny's control to influence from September 1st onwards, and which could have led to us doing much better if he'd addressed them properly. You've made it clear you're not interested in discussing them though, so that's that.

 

 

No, no. You're completely missing the point I'm making. I'm not suggesting the players who went where great - they were part of the problem and needed to be replaced. The issue is that we've lost 16 goals and haven't yet replaced them with more goals. No matter how shit the players are, 16 goals are about 16 goals better than 0 goals. Now, Sturridge will cover some, Borini will cover some others, but we still need at least one more attacker, maybe two if we're talking about number 10s (which Rodgers was recently).

 

If you take over a side which finished 8th, and had a problem scoring goals, but lose the ones who did score goals without having the money to improve on those players, I think it's fair to say the expectation to score as many goals isn't as great. It's harder to score goals when you don't have attacking players who scored them last season. Just because they weren't good enough to score our way to fourth, and therefore are part of the problem, it doesn't mean getting rid of them without replacing them is going to make it easier.

 

 

This is where I disagree, we have had the money to do that.

 

And it was 12 goals we needed to replace / improve upon, not 16. Rodgers could have kept Carroll and used him, nobody forced him to get rid. Fair enough if there was absolutely no way he could have fitted Carroll into his setup, but he's on record as saying he'd have kept him if he'd known he wouldn't be getting another forward on deadline day. So I can only presume he saw some way of using Carroll to the benefit of the side, even if it was just as a squad player.

 

 

So we'e been stupid in the transfer market for half a decade, you admit, yet you're still maintaining we've got a good squad.

 

 

Yes, that's precisely what I'm saying. We had a fantastic squad five years ago, and it's been weakened considerably since then but is still good. Not sure what the problem is there.

 

 

But I do think he needs money. Not £35m a player like Chelsea or City, but I do think it's reasonable that if we're going to ask him to get into the top four, we back him with players who are good enough to fetch some big money. At least Sturridge level signings. You can only be so smart.

 

I agree we've been stupid, I agree we need to be smart because we don't have enough money to make mistakes and then keep spending in the way City and Chelsea have, but we do need a decent amount of money to build a squad capable of bridging the gap.

 

 

To the teams competing for the title, of course, but first things first. I think the squad as it now stands would definitely have been good enough for fourth if we'd had it at the start of the season, and I'll be very disappointed if we don't challenge for the top four next season. Assuming Rodgers is backed with the same kind of cash in the summer as he has been in total this season, then barring an injury crisis there'll be no excuse for him not to challenge as far as I'm concerned.

 

 

And to you and yours. Again, if there's spelling and grammar mistakes, my bad; I'm too lazy to go back through it. I type at break-neck speed, so there's probably some typos and stuff. If you want clarification, just ask. And I'm sure you take any coarse words in the spirit of vigorous debate, rather than a personal attack.

 

 

Of course mate. I'm perfectly happy to tear each other's opinions, attitudes and behaviour to pieces as long as it doesn't descend into personal abuse.

 

If we were discussing this over a beer it would probably take us all of five minutes to clarify where our differences are, agree to disagree and move on. The joy of the internet eh.

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