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Rodgers Hopes To Avoid Mistakes

With Kolo Toure and Iago Aspas now confirmed, Brendan Rodgers is reported to be lining up Sevilla's Luis Alberto next, knowing all the while that he must get these next personnel and planning decisions right. Our young manager is feeling the pressure but retains his characteristic optimism.

Michael Regan

When we cynically rolled our eyes at his overly effusive assertions in the early part of the season just gone, did we honestly ever think we'd reach a point where an analysis of a Brendan Rodgers interview would be like ambrosia from the gods? And yet here we are. In comparison with the nebulous world of misdirection and cynical manipulation that is the transfer market, I, for one, relish the chance to hear from our manager about the actual team and his plans for its furtherment.

Granted, the following observations from your weary scrivener will have at least tangential references to the wretched and godforsaken world of player-exchange, but the main thrust of their focus will be on where the Northern Irishman believes Liverpool Football Club stands now and where it may realistically stand by the conclusion of the season to come. So, huzzah?

Nobody needs reminding that the club's greatest asset is currently in late-stage flirtation with a particularly attractive Spanish suitor. Daily missives from his Confederations Cup base inform us, with various levels of hysteria, that renowned arm-gourmand, Luis Suarez is being forced out of the Premier league by the media. It is difficult now, to see a future in which Suarez will don the Liverbird.

The player himself adds new quotes regularly, which paint a picture of a maligned innocent being driven out of town by the pitchfork-wielding, torch-carrying media. He and his agent, Pere Guardiola, would have us believe this rather one-eyed version of events and with each soundbite cynically dropped before the microphones, Reds fans mentally detach their affections from the Uruguayan. This is an all-but-broken relationship.

One wonders if the virtual inevitability of a Suarez transfer is part of his thinking.

Nevertheless, planning for the future of Liverpool Football Club is inextricably linked with Suarez. His likely transfer fee would allow Rodgers to massively revamp the squad and yet the most glittering star in his current constellation will be gone. Optimists will be excited at the potential and ignore the loss. Pessimists will see only the detrimental aspect of losing a truly world-class footballer. Those of us who subscribe to neither extreme will simply observe that players are, for the most part, transient, whereas the club, like The Dude, will abide.

It is against this backdrop, that Brendan Rodgers has been speaking about his plans for the immediate future. When he cites the need for more attacking options, one wonders if the virtual inevitability of a Suarez transfer is part of his thinking. It certainly informs the way we read his ideas about team strategy.

"I'm looking to bring twenty goals into the team," insisted the Liverpool boss. "I'm looking at another offensive player to give us a real threat on goal and another attacking midfield player. We definitely need to do that, especially if we are going to put some young ones out on loan to gain experience.

"But it's not easy when you can't make mistakes. We want to keep the acceleration and pushing on so this is a very important window for us in the summer. We have to do our best to make it right, because the players who need to come in have to be effective right from the off."

If the two players mentioned are Aspas and Alberto, then we are clearly less excited than if he means a further two. The mind also turns immediately to which of the "young ones" he has earmarked for loans. Jonjo Shelvey must be the most obvious candidate, having singularly failed to deliver on the promise he appeared to have. Fernando Suso too, would benefit from a consistent run at top-level. Would Rodgers countenance allowing Raheem Sterling, whom he relied so heavily upon last campaign, to join his young friends on a spell away from the nurturing environment of Anfield and Melwood?

Clearly, the as-yet less than successful moves of Fabio Borini and Joe Allen weigh heavily on Rodgers as he plots his squad adjustments for the campaign. He has bought some favour with the immediate impact of Daniel Sturridge and the frankly wonderful Phillipe Coutinho, but players who guarantee "twenty goals" are hard to find and in the event of Suarez departing, he must also replace 30 goals. It is, however, massively encouraging to hear him speak about the necessity for new recruits to be first-team-ready.

Rodgers dismisses any idea that he might become "comfortable" in his role or "sit and earn the money and just enjoy being the Liverpool manager." He does, however, seem at ease with the pressure of the job and has always impressed me, at least, with his calmness and generally phlegmatic approach. People can deride him if they must, but at least Rodgers has not gone to pieces at any point and the football played during the closing stages of the season was as good as Anfield has witnessed in years. That must now be reproduced before the burden of expectation has been lifted by underachievement.


"There were moments of disappointment and moments of delight but when I look at the reality of it, we scored forty seven goals last year and this time got seventy one -- and we hope to add to that amount. Defensively, for a team that was supposed to be very strong last year, we've only conceded three more goals. So in terms of numbers and performance-wise, then we have improved. I believe we will improve again and we have to because we want to sustain a challenge.

"I think we can do it but it will be a tough ask because as we improve other clubs will have masses more money to improve also. But I believe we have built a real good base this year. It's not my job to look for excuses, I have to find the solutions to try and push us in there and I believe we won't be too far away."

As mission statements go it's not exactly Hodgsonian lowering of expectations but neither is it the kind of bluster that Rodgers has previously spouted. This, it would seem, is a man with a new-found realism and an undiminished hope. I'll take that for now.

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