Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat at Zenit St Petersburg last night sees them dangerously close to a disastrous Europa League exit after a poor run of form in domestic competitions.
Earlier this week I wrote a piece questioning how long Liverpool would back manager Brendan Rodgers. I tried to remain fair and balanced in my assessment that perhaps he wasn’t the man to take Liverpool forward as he didn’t have the credentials of his predecessors.
I also pointed to numerous comments Rodgers has made blaming his players – their youth, their mentality, their defensive capabilities – you name, he’s blamed it.
To my surprise the comments I received from Liverpool fans were, in effect, blaming the manager and, to summarize, their faith seems to have evaporated for the promising young man who did so well at Swansea.
He claimed, after their 3-1 defeat at Anfield to struggling Aston Villa, that the wounds of the result were ‘self-inflicted’ and I can’t help but feel if and when Rodgers loses the fans’ faith and belief in him that will have been ‘self-inflicted’ too.
After last night’s defeat he insisted he remains ‘confident’ that the Reds can still win the tie over two legs. He’s right, they can. But after that defeat of two goals without reply, they now have a mountain to climb in Europe to compound their woes domestically.
A Liverpool fan commented on my previous article that Liverpool would likely have to win the competition now to qualify for it next season. As it stands, that fan would be hard to argue with – they currently sit 9th place in the league.
"The tie is far from over. We're going to Anfield. It's the place where the hosts' fans become monsters, the players become really up for the fight,” he continued.
He’s right, there is no reason the Reds can’t overturn the deficit at Anfield but is that really what Liverpool supporters want to hear from their manager after the season they’ve had so far?
He might be confident but I wonder whether the fans, and the players, come to think of it, really have that much confidence in him anymore. They’ve been patient whilst he tried to implement his system and style, bringing a new generation of youngsters into the first team, and trying to repair the damage done by his predecessors.
But, after a while, his ‘confidence’ just sounds like wishful thinking. ‘Faith’ is a belief in something for which there is no tangible evidence and, at the moment, Brendan Rodgers is asking for exactly that from his players and fans.
Let us not mistake faith for ‘confidence’, for the definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviour, expecting different results. Rodgers needs to make a change or he might find he’s the change that needs to be made. It would be insane for a club as big as Liverpool FC to continue to make the same mistakes. Over and over and over again.
image: © bernard-chan