For how long will Liverpool back Rodgers?

In the wake of their 2-0 defeat at Anfield to West Brom, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has described the result as a ‘setback’.

After a poor start in the Premier League this season, Rodgers’ Reds managed to claw their way back up the table and there were even murmurs about their top-four ambitions.

After last night’s defeat, Liverpool have now dropped back down to 9th place in the league, 12 points off the Tottenham in 4th. Rodgers explained after the game:

"It's a setback. The effort was terrific, but the ball never fell for us. We probably should have got more from the game.”

Liverpool fans have been extremely patient with Rodgers since his arrival last summer from Swansea. They’ve backed him when things weren’t going his way as he tried to implement his system and style, whilst bringing a number of young and inexperienced players into the first-team fold.

But how long will the Liverpool faithful stand by their man? Just last month the Reds were dumped out of the FA Cup by third tier side Oldham to which Rodgers responded by blaming his young players. He said,

“We have young players and it’s great to put them in, but you have to have personality. Today our young players disappointed me, they didn’t have the right mentality and you can’t do that at Liverpool.”

Flashback to Boxing Day last year and Rodger’s blamed his defenders for his side’s 3-1 defeat at Stoke. He said,

“We’re bitterly disappointed with the defending for the three goals. We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves.”

That statement was almost a duplicate response of his comments made after Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at Anfield to Aston Villa just two weeks previous:

It was so unlike us because we're usually strong defensively. It was very much self-inflicted today.

Forgive me for my suggestion here because I’m just throwing it out there but at what point will Brendan Rodgers blame himself and, crucially, at what point will Liverpool fans and the board start to blame him?

I’m not trying to get the guy sacked – I actually think he is a very good manager – but his predecessors Kenny Dalglish and Roy Hodgson were given little time to gets results and little margin for error. Hodgson especially – he was given just over 6 months and even Reds’ favourite Dalglish was given less than one full season.

Back in September last year, Liverpool owner John W Henry gave his full backing to Rodgers, as he deserved. He stated:

"We are still in the process of reversing the errors of previous regimes. It will not happen overnight.”

Rodgers certainly has had a difficult task on his hands and his signing of Daniel Sturridge has been nothing short of brilliant but Liverpool are way behind the top-four now and will be fighting to get back into the Europa League next season which I believe they will. They’re out of all the domestic cups and they should be focusing on the Europa League (this season and for next season).

However, a club of Liverpool’s stature, with their rich and glorious history, should be aiming so much higher than that. They won the Champion’s League in 2005 and, whilst a lot has changed since then, that should be their ambition now – it was only 8 years ago.

Brendan Rodgers has no experience in winning anything in Europe or, for that matter, in domestic football either. And I just wonder whether, over time, that will start to show – his inexperience at the highest level may eventually become a glaring void in a manager at one of the most successful clubs in football history.

When Rafael Benitez was hired, he had already La Liga twice with Valencia and the UEFA Cup in 2004 and I can’t help but feel those are the kind of credentials that need to be on the CV of a Liverpool FC manager. Brendan Rodgers may yet prove me completely wrong but I can’t help but feel it may not go the way he wants it to.

The owner and the board may back him for now but if he loses the fans’ trust and belief in him, he’ll be a goner. Results like last night’s cannot keep happening and he can’t keep blaming his players for these ‘setbacks’.

images: © strabanephotos, © Bernard C

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