It's a cliche, but football is a results business, and past success often counts for little when the going gets tough. For Liverpool, things have certainly been tough going this season, as Brendan Rodgers' side has followed up last season's title challenge with one of the worst first halves of a season in Liverpool history.
Currently a point behind the pace set by Roy Hodgson in 2010-11 in the league and having fallen out of the Champions League, it's only the success of last season providing any reason for hope that Rodgers can still turn things around. And according to Jamie Carragher, without results in their next two matches, last year's success may not be enough.
"Brendan Rodgers is under pressure," said Carragher, pointing to Liverpool's summer spend as the main source of that pressure. "The owners were ruthless with Kenny and Roy. You go out against Bournemouth and then you have arsenal. He was manager of the year, but he has to get results. You expect them to do well after spending that kind of money."
The optics certainly aren't good. Even if the sale of Luis Suarez covered a portion of Liverpool's nearly £120M gross spend, the club still spent around £45M more than in brought in through player sales last summer. All told, in his three years at the club, Rodgers has a net spend of over £105M, an amount that dwarfs what past managers had to work with.
By comparison, in his six years at the club, Rafa Benitez' net spend totalled £104M. Increasing revenues and inflated transfer fees don't make for a one to one comparison, but regardless of that and the difficulty of replacing a player like Luis Suarez, it would be hard to argue that the current manager hasn't been fully supported by the club's new owners.
As for what exactly it is that's gone wrong this season, Carragher thinks it has less to do with the club's troubles replacing their departed star than it does to do with failing to fix their problems at the back. Problems that have existed throughout Rodgers' tenure at the club and that Dejan Lovren, the club's most expensive ever defensive signing, was meant to fix.
"I've not been part of a team that has come to Old Trafford and created that many chances," said Carragher, "but you have got to defend well too. There are two sides to a game. They've conceded three goals away from home. Only QPR have conceded more goals away from home. It;s not something new under Rodgers and it's got to stop.
"There's panic in the Liverpool defence and that's one of the reasons why Simon Mignolet has come out of the team as he was creating that panic. That's the problem at Liverpool. Lovren is another one. Every time the ball goes near him, you fear there's going to be a mistake or a poor clearance, and that's what we saw today with the last goal."
Even with Mignolet in goal, Liverpool had looked far more solid in recent weeks with Lucas Leiva in the midfield and Lovren left out of the back line. Against United, Rodgers ignored the evidence, dropping Lucas and reinstating Lovren. It doesn't seem entirely hyperbolic to suggest that what he does next could determine whether he has a future at the club.
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