Was not picking Agger Rodgers' biggest managerial mistake of the season?

Daniel Agger

The Danish captain has been Liverpool's strongest defender this season, yet is continually overlooked in favour of last summer's new signings.

It's hard to point too many figures at Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers after what has undoubtedly been a sensational season for the club.

Facing a fight to get into the top four at the start of the year, the Reds have performed superbly to go into the final weekend of the Premier League campaign still in with a shot of becoming champions, even if that chance is a slim one.

Sunday's fixtures will tell us whether Rodgers balanced his team selections and tactics well enough to make him a title winner, but looking at statistics for the year, there is one mistake that the former Swansea boss has tended to repeat over and over again.

Despite being the club's longest serving defender and having a place in most Liverpool supporters' hearts, Daniel Agger has often found himself on the sidelines for the Reds this year, and it may have played a huge part in the side's ongoing defensive issues.

The Dane played his part in a decent defence in 2012-13, with the team conceding just 43 goals, the same amount as league winners Manchester United. Alongside Jamie Carragher, Liverpool ironically often suffered from being too defensive, and unable to score that breakthrough goal that their play deserved. This time last year, it looked like Martin Skrtel would be the player to make way, with the Slovak linked with a move to join up with former boss Rafa Benitez over the summer.

This season, it is Agger who has often been left out, with new signings Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho racking up more minutes alongside the newly favoured Skrtel, and interestingly, Liverpool have already conceded 6 more goals than they did in the whole of last year, despite the Reds being a much better outfit. Injuries have played their part in Agger's absences, but matches like the 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace would surely have been different had the Danish international been playing.

Below, some key defensive statistics illustrate Agger's strengths at the club:

Liverpool's central defender stats 2013-14

  TeamPosClean SheetError Lead To GoalWon TackleDuel WonEffective ClearanceAppsMins
Daniel Agger Liverpool DF 8 0 20 81 105 19 1,330
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 8 2 35 190 401 35 3,132
Kolo Touré Liverpool DF 3 2 28 86 146 20 1,439
Mamadou Sakho Liverpool DF 1 0 25 87 136 18 1,480

Martin Skrtel has been the preferred centre back this year for Rodgers, but he has barely more clean sheets than Agger despite the Dane featuring less than half the amount of minutes. On top of this, Skrtel and Toure have both contributed errors that led to goals, while Sakho appears incapable of ensuring the side earn a clean sheet. The fact that Agger has managed to claim 8 clean sheets, while not necessarily having to dominate in tackles, duels and clearances, is down to his positioning and reading of the game, traits that none of the club's other defenders possess.

It is some surprise then, given Liverpool's repeated defensive errors, that the Dane remains on the fringes of the first team. If Rodgers brings him back into a key defensive role next year, it will leave many wondering why he didn't do so this year, with his side so close to silverware.

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