Many well-respected pundits, journalists and soccer experts alike have all claimed that Liverpool has started to make progress this year and that it was always going to be a transitional period, with next year being the one to judge Brendan Rodgers on.
I’m afraid I just don’t see it that way.
I may have been a little harsh on Rodgers in the past, so I am actually prepared to give him a little leeway as regards the ‘transitional period’ this year. However, I object to the claims that progress has been made.
Kenny Dalglish finished eighth last year and paid for that dismal failure with his job. Rodgers looks set to finish in a paltry seventh this year and although the Welshman may not find himself on John Henry‘s chopping block just yet, he may should the American owner decide that progress has not, in fact, been made.
Steve McManaman claimed progress has been made this year and although the reds have produced a number of eye-catching displays and ultimately garnering a superior goal return than last year, the same old errors are halting real progress.
Liverpool’s defense is arguably worse than last year with Pepe Reina and Jamie Carraghers‘ unforced errors particularly standing out. The most damning issue has been the choice of defenders, with Rodgers opting for Carragher over the younger, taller Sebastian Coates and the experienced Martin Skrtel. How can progress possibly be made if a retiring 34-year-old is continually picked over a younger prospect?
That said, Liverpool has been more successful when it comes to making progress commercially with a lucrative kit sponsorship deal courtesy of Warrior Sports generating $25 million per year. John Henry also wants the club to be able to compete with the likes of Manchester United‘s match day revenue, which would mean increasing the amount of corporate boxes at Anfield enormously.
Unfortunately, the most staggering lack of progress is shown on the Anfield redevelopment. Way back in 2002, plans were initiated for a new stadium under the previous regime and although the new owners’ preference is to redevelop the current stadium, work appears to have stalled regardless of assurances emanating from the club.
The Emirates Stadium sprang up from the planning stage to completion in only four years, which is the amount of time that the Fenway Sports Group appears to have spent on a reasonably simple redevelopment. I can’t imagine the Manchester United hierarchy waiting four years for nothing to happen.
So maybe slight progress has been made as regards the team, but stuttering performances, inconsistency and a lack of desire from the board have denied Liverpool great leaps forward.
Liverpool needs to string together a consistent run of results next year and cement its place in the Champions League. Until that happens, I will refrain from saying real progress has been made.