Unlike the draw against Hull, there weren't many arguments that Liverpool were lacking in luck during their 1-0 loss to Newcastle on Saturday. Against Hull they at least created a few dangerous chances and had some excellent defending to moan about, but at Newcastle they had only themselves to blame after an insipid and dispiriting loss. The song was largely the same, with the attack doing little to inspire and the defense conspiring against itself to allow a winner.
Those similarities--as well as a handful of others on offer throughout the day--have rightly given way to questions about Brendan Rodgers' flexibility, which were also raised after their draw last weekend. Sam Allardyce made mention of it at the time, apparently, and now, after another underwhelming display, Rodgers responded to growing questions about his willingness to alter his approach in order to get results:
"I have a way of working, a philosophy and the game model and training model are all based on that. Throughout my time here, I've tweaked elements of our game. I like the team to dominate with the ball and control the ball. But there were games last year where we dominated on the counter-attack. The transition and improvement of this team has been about dangerous possession.
"When you say not change, I'm not sure there's a coach that has played more systems than I have played in the last couple of years. The principles stay the same, but the systems change. We played a different system the other night (v Swansea) and it brought us a win. People will look at me and think I have an identity. I'm happy with that. But no, as a coach you have to be able to adapt and change. I'm not dogmatic as a coach, I'm pragmatic."
Through it all I suppose it's important to remember that he's the one who's actually the professional manager and coach, and we're probably a little less qualified to be making the types of decisions Rodgers is tasked with making on a daily basis. FIFA, Pro Evo, and, most importantly, Football Manager, might tell us otherwise, but unfortunately that doesn't carry much weight in the actual world outside of Everton's scouting department and Ole Gunner Solksjaer's failed managerial career.
But that doesn't give Rodgers freedom from criticism, and it's looked an awful lot like Allardyce's criticism is at least somewhere near the heart of Liverpool's problems. He successfully used Stewart Downing to mark Steven Gerrard out of the match in the 3-1 win at Upton Park shortly after Paul Lambert had done the same at Anfield, and while Rodgers has tinkered here and there, he's been hesitant to deviate from a one-striker system with Gerrard deep.
The results it's yielded are less than impressive, and now might be a good time for the manager to make good on his words.