Brendan Rodgers appears to be under more scrutiny after his Liverpool side were dumped out of the English FA Cup on Sunday by Oldham Athletic. Oldham are 19th in League One, the third level in England, and have failed to win any of their last 8 eight league matches.
The defeat marked the first time that Liverpool had been eliminated from the competition by a side two levels below them for 50 years. It is also the first time in the club’s long history that they have conceded three goals to a team from the third tier.
Rodgers’ team selection has been heavily criticized by some Liverpool supporters on the club’s website. In effect he played a 4-2-4 formation with two lightweights in midfield. There were two teenagers in the back four and the average age of the side was just 22 years of age.
Oldham scored in the third minute when six-foot-six striker Matt Smith out-muscled the Liverpool defense to register with a header. When leading scorer Luis Suarez (pictured playing for Uruguay) equalized 15 minutes later it appeared the side’s class would tell.
However, Oldham scored just before and after half time to take a two goal lead. Rodgers then sent talisman captain Steven Gerrard on to the field and only at that point did Liverpool look a threat.
One goal was pulled back but the game ended in defeat for Liverpool. Rodgers is now under huge pressure to pick up points in two difficult away games at Arsenal and Manchester City this week.
In what was a generally poor afternoon for the club Liverpool fans will have been appalled to see rookie defender Jack Robinson swearing at leading scorer Suarez. The young players overall were disappointing and their performances reflect the lack of strength in depth at the club.
Rodgers publicly said he was disappointed with how his young players in particular coped with the physical demands of a typical English Cup tie. However, he chose the side and formation which suggested he underestimated the Oldham threat.
The Liverpool manager may come to regret his team selection and if Liverpool ended the season in mid-table his project could come to an end, and Rodgers may soon be seeking alternative employment.