Rodgers needs to back up words with victories
Reds boss has no idea of his best 11 and best formation
LIVERPOOL v NORWICH
(Tonight, 10.55pm, Singtel TV Ch 103 & StarHub TV Ch 228)
If words translate into wins, Brendan Rodgers would be the king of the Kop.
The Liverpool manager loves to wax lyrical about his playing philosophy, his players... as long as it shows what a deep football thinker he is.
He sure talks a good game. The problem for Liverpool is that action, not words, wins matches.
After wasting the millions from the sale of Luis Suarez last season, he again spent big this season. But his team remain as dreary as ever.
Still, they won seven points in the first three matches through a wonder goal and poor refereeing decisions.
The highlight was three clean sheets, as Rodgers was quick to point out. Oops, he spoke too soon.
West Ham counter-attacked to perfection in a 3-0 win at Anfield. Then his shell-shocked team went to Old Trafford with no ambition and shipped three goals after the break.
For him to later praise his team for defending well in the first half was an affront to Liverpool fans. They don't want the Reds to just defend against their hated rivals.
Everything that's expected of a Liverpool team playing against United was missing - passion, energy and a resolute drive to win.
His second-stringers had some bright moments in the 1-1 draw away to Bordeaux in the Europa League.
Mamadou Sakho, solid in his defending and distribution, showed why he deserves to be in the first 11. Post-match, Rodgers hinted Sakho might start against Norwich tonight.
But don't be surprised if he sticks with the hapless Dejan Lovren. His faith in Lovren is mind-boggling.
The Croat's partnership record with Martin Skrtel in 21 of the 43 league matches since last season: W7 D5 L9 for 26 points. In the other 22 games, where one of them was absent, Liverpool won 43 points from 13 wins and four draws.
Whie talking up his credentials as the best man to lead Liverpool, Rodgers continues to chop and change, tinker with formations - he reverted to a back three against Bordeaux - and play his players out of position.
He seems to have no idea of his best formation and best 11.
He's taken a more direct approach with Christian Benteke as the lone striker but the penetrative play has not improved. Three goals scored, six conceded in five games is embarrassing for a team with top-four ambitions.
What's worrying is the manner those matches were won or lost.
For someone who espoused beating opponents through "death by football", Rodgers' teams often lack creative spark and steely conviction.
Now they can't even keep the ball, let alone score. Liverpool's possession stats have dipped below 50 per cent, worse than teams like Bournemouth and Aston Villa.
As the sole striker, Benteke is often isolated. He needs a striking partner and wingers to stretch the opposing defence and send in crosses.
But Jordan Ibe is the only natural winger left after Lazar Markovic was shipped out on loan. So the likes of Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings, either No. 10s or strikers, are shoehorned into wide roles.
Pre-match against Norwich, Rodgers bullishly spoke of the fit-again Daniel Sturridge as a potential season-changer.
We know what happened when he praised Lovren before the West Ham match, so what odds that Sturridge gets crocked again?
Rodgers also spoke about his players needing to take more risks, presumably the same way he asked them to take risks against Man United.
It's enough to make one shout: "Brendan, please shut the **** up!"
"We had 65 per cent possession tonight. To me, that's more important than goals."
- Rodgers, meet van Gaal. Van Gaal, meet Rodgers.
"When you've got the ball 65-70 per cent of the time, it's a football death for the other team... It's death by football. You just suck the life out of them."
- The only thing he'll suck out of them is laughter as they roll on the field.
"We play with 11 men, other teams play with 10 men and a goalkeeper."
- Need we remind him his first-choice goalie is Mignolet?
"I've always worked along with the statistic that if you can dominate the game with the ball, you have a 79 per cent chance of winning the game."
- He exaggerates. It's actually 78.69 per cent.
"They only averaged four shots on target with 43 per cent possession. That tells you you don't need to dominate the ball but you can dominate the space."
- Space has just been sent off after giving away a penalty.
"I use a quote with the players, 'Per aspera ad astra', which is Latin for 'through adversity to the stars'."
- He'll be quoting Socrates next and we don't mean the former Brazil captain.