After weeks of people criticizing Liverpool's defenders as lazy, error prone, or simply incompetent, Brendan Rodgers has had enough. Springing to the defense of his players for what seems like the umpteenth time this season, Rodgers has talked down his defenders' detractors.
"It’s easy for people to label us as a team who concede cheap goals. It’s lazy," Liverpool's manager proclaimed. "When I arrived, the accusation was that we didn't score enough goals. Now it’s that we concede too many, or the squad is too small."
He's got a very valid point where it comes to the goalpost-moving. Even within this season, we've seen the topic of criticism of the club shift several times. At the start of the season, people wondered if Liverpool could score enough goals to compete, but the defense sure looked good enough to hang with the best of 'em. Then, when the attack perked up but the midseason injury crisis hit, the media narrative shifted to whether or not the squad was deep enough and if Rodgers was a good enough tactician to adjust to the losses.
Now that Liverpool are healthy and scoring freely, but shipping more goals "than a contender should", the narrative has shifted once more, and it's all the louder with Liverpool at the heart of the title race with just over a month and a half left to go in the season. All this moving of goalposts should be expected from the media when you're a club of Liverpool's size and experiencing this kind of success, but that doesn't mean that it isn't incredibly annoying. To his credit, Rodgers indicated that the club is pretty much ignoring the fuss and is focused on doing as well as they can.
"We’re just really enjoying our football. We’ve got a hell of a long way to go, but we’re certainly making strides," Rodgers said. "It may or may not be this year but there’s no doubt we’re on the right road." You know what? He's right. Even if Liverpool come up short come the end of the season, they've got the basis of a squad that, with the right additions, could be a real competitor for a long time.
There's certainly some improvements that can be made to Liverpool's defense, especially at the fullback positions. That doesn't change the fact, though, that a lot of the criticism has been way over the top of late. Liverpool have a solid defense that's been hard-hit by injury, and the constant forced rotation of players that's created would be hard on almost any squad. Just look at Arsenal this season: their fantastic first half of the season has been almost entirely undone after a seemingly never-ending series of defensive injuries over the last three months, with it seeming rare that more than two of their regular starters is healthy.
No matter what, though, Liverpool's defense will have to improve by the end of the season in order to stay in the race. Their margin of error is already super low, and screwups against Manchester City or Chelsea would pretty much end any hope Liverpool have of winning the title. Hopefully Rodgers and his players can shift the narrative in their favor in the weeks to come.
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