Who likes Brendan Rodgers? Hands up please. Okay, I see that he has a lot of fans around here. That's good I suppose. Who thinks Brendan Rodgers looks like a Liverpool manager in his "way of working" to date? Same again please so there can be a solid count because don't need to do recounts here. Hmmmm. He really does have the goodwill of plenty who stop by around here.
Rodgers' earnestness in the Liverpool hotseat combined with his buzzwords, enthusiasm, and philosophy make him an attractive projection of the football side of Liverpool FC. This year has been the year of real progress and the summer enabled an insight to the steelier side of Northern Ireland's sole managerial representative in England's top flight. However, Rodgers could help himself by doing a few players a a favour or two before the January transfer window opens. It's not that far away.
Remember how we were restless before the start of the season? October is now upon us. Tempus fugit. Liverpool have been knocked out of a cup, sit second in the league, have suffered injuries, and Suarez has returned. Mignolet has settled into the goalkeeper's jersey, Moses was underestimated once again, Iago has struggled in the shadow of a more imperious figure, Sakho is defensively superlative, Kolo is everything we wished for but never knew he could be, and Alberto and Illori will need to wait for a chance . Most of the season is yet to come but things are beginning to form.
One aspect of Rodgers' management that appears to be part of his preferred approach to the game is avoiding rotation. This might not be too problematic as Liverpool have three games in seven/eight days at the start and beginning of December. No European football and being knocked out of the League Cup ensures that Liverpool's workload will be significantly lighter in the remaining months of the year. However, Rodgers didn't help Joe Allen last season by playing him so much and he's not helping Gerrard. Of course a player would like to play every minute of every game but just like having too much ice-cream, there comes a point where you wish someone would have stepped in before you got sick.
It'll be interesting to see what Rodgers does with Joe Allen when he returns from injury, whenever that may be. Perhaps Gerrard can work with a full 90 minutes each week but like Allen last season, there can be adverse effects in placing unnecessary strain mentally and physically on a player who requires protection. When it's good for the player and good for the team, the decision should be easy to make.
- A Manchester maladjustment continues in England and Manchester United didn't have that much vaunted fear factor in the loss at home to West Brom while Manchester City succumbed to another 3-2 away defeat. Aston Villa were the victors this time in a five goal bonanza. The two men in charge of the red and blue sides of Manchester need to find answers to this if they are to remain free from undue pressure so early in the season. Perhaps such a debate need not take place on the cusp of October's opening yet this is modern football where there is more money than patience. Clubs using a "holistic" approach might afford a manager more time as well as space to find solutions to a variety of problems if there are designs on long-term progress. However, a team that is the reigning champions and another that was dethroned last season might not find patience to be in plentiful supply. Spending £92M net in one summer and replacing one of the greatest football managers of all time doesn't help either.
- Swansea City have been given an unenviable start to the new season with Europa League qualifiers, travelling to Valencia to start a group campaign, playing a dangerous Birmingham at St. Andrew's to begin the defence of their domestic trophy, and a clutch of Premier League big hitters as early opponents. Beating Valencia comfortably but losing to Birmingham isn't a bad trade even if failing to make a concerted defence of the League Cup will be somewhat of a regret. Swansea took one point from twelve against Liverpool, Tottenham, Man Utd, and Arsenal but remained generally competitive. Wins against West Brom and Crystal Palace were classy and if anyone has extra time to watch another Premier League side then why not Swansea?
- No significant European round up this week but congratulations to Atlético Madrid who went to their fierce rivals and won. Finally. Diego Simeone's Atléti beat Real Madrid in La Liga to give Los Rojiblancos their first derby victory in the league since 1999. Prince style. Well not quite as Real had the shots, the possession, and the territorial advantage. Yet Atléti were dangerous and scoring goals has been easy this season.19 goals in 7 league games is a splendid record that's only bettered by Barcelona. Predictably. The win in the Copa del Rey final earlier in the year was monumental for Simeone and his troops, even more so for the fans, as it was beating Real Madrid when it really mattered. A long succession of seasons of one's light dwindling, flickering, or burning in the shade of a great rival is difficult to digest and live with. Even when Europa League victory brought greater attention, Real Madrid seemed concerned with greater challenges but this year could be the start of a more even rivalry in derbies at least. Barcelona's lead over Madrid's emerging force is a matter of scoring five goals more. Both have conceded just five goals and for once, it is Real Madrid gazing from afar as a Madrid rival and Catalan giant rub shoulders at the top of La Liga's tree.
Well that was much gaiety and revelry personified. An extremely dear friend of mine recently commented that the gusto behind Arabic commentary makes everything stupendous and when events are already stupendous, they become even more so. So enjoy the consternation of rivals and bask in the glory of a weekend where we didn't let an opportunity slip through uncertain fingers.
Manchester United vs West Brom 1-2 2013 Goals & Highlights (28-9-2013) HD