Mr. Rodgers - Will You Be Our Harvey Specter?

Mr. Rodgers - Will You Be Our Harvey Specter?

Liverpool endured a very poor start to the season which had involved being knocked out of the Champions League as well as languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League table for a while. However, the last few weeks have seen an emergence from that with 1 loss in the last 15 games (3-0 loss at Old Trafford). There is a growing sense of optimism at the club with new signings like Lallana, Can, Moreno and Markovic finally making a sustained impact in the games they have played. While the victory over Sunderland was a well ground-out one, it certainly brought to the fore the inability of this Liverpool side to close the game despite the opposition being reduced to 10 men. In the wake of insecurities, what would help the club achieve its previous heights?

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Rather than the likes of  Delph, Reid, Lacazette, who have recently been linked with the club, it seems it is the popular TV Character Harvey Specter, from the Suits franchise, who is needed at Anfield. The self proclaimed Best Closer in New York’s Association with LFC would do the Merseyside club a world of good for years to come. You don’t believe us? Well, time to look through the rest of the piece then.

Inability to Close Matches When In Advantageous Positions

With Brendan Rodgers primarily seen as an attacking manager, it is not surprising that Liverpool have often tried to outscored the opponent rather than contain them after taking a lead. In the two and a half years that the Irishman has been in charge at the club, the story goes thus.

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Points dropped leading the game by 1 goal 16 12 14
Points dropped when leading the game by 2 goals 4 0 2
Points dropped when leading the game by 3 goals 0 2 0

It is important to mention that these are the points dropped throughout the season and in case of cup ties, we have assumed them to value three points for the basis of consistency.  Also, a goal lead at any point of time in the game is understood to be an advantageous situation.

In the last season, the club had a rampant strike-force that could outscore any opponent on their day. However, in modern day football it is very tough to maintain the numbers especially with a constant churning of players and lack of ready-made alternatives at hand. The same has happened at Anfield as the club has often taken the lead, but has conceded within minutes of doing so on many occasions (Arsenal and Chelsea among others).

While it is good to see that Rodgers hasn’t altered the way he sets up his team to play attacking football in the wake of poor results, it’s alarming that the club has already dropped so many points despite being just touching the half way mark of the season. With the magical number 7 gone and Sturridge being seen as injury prone, it’s time the manager as well his players learn to close down games to better their position in the table.

Inability To Deal With Contracts At Times

Twitter has been rife with news of Suso travelling to AC Milan for a medical in the wake of his permanent transfer that is due in the summer. It is astonishing that while we buy precious talent for huge sums of money, we are letting go of one such player for free. While some might say he does not suit our style or the league, it has to be noted that the Spaniard had the highest number of assists by any player under the age of 21 last season and hence his value at other clubs/leagues is much higher due to his technical ability.

Let us have a look at the contracts of all the senior players at the club.

Name Position Age Nationality Contract Till
Glen Johnson RB 30 English 2015
Jon Flanaga RB 21 English 2015
Kolo Toure CB 33 Ivorian 2015
Steven Gerrard CM 34 English 2015
Fabio Borini AM 21 Spanish 2015
Brad Jones GK 32 Australian 2016
Javier Manquillo RB 20 Spanish 2016
Martin Skrtel CB 29 Slovakian 2016
Jose Enrique LB 28 Spanish 2016
Jordan Henderson CM 24 English 2016
Rickie Lambert FW 32 English 2016
Lucas Leiva CM 27 Brazilian 2017
Joe Allen CM 24 Welsh 2017
Mario Balotelli FW 24 Italian 2017
Simon Mignolet GK 26 Belgian 2018
Mamadou Sakho CB 24 French 2018
Phillipe Coutinho AM 22 Brazilian 2018
Raheem Sterling AM 19 English 2018
Dejan Lovren CB 25 Croatian 2019
Alberto Moreno LB 22 Spanish 2019
Emre Can CM 20 German 2019
Adam Lallana AM 26 English 2019
Lazar Markovic AM 20 Serbian 2019
Daniel Sturridge FW 25 English 2019

(Source: thisisanfield.com)

Raheem Sterling is possibly the brightest talent in the whole of England right now and it is no surprise that teams like Real Madrid are rumoured to have made enquiries about the lad. While the club has made repeated efforts to finalise a contract, there are certain contracts that need immediate sorting and those are of future captain Henderson as well and right-back Flanagan. Flanagan is in the final months of his contract and the club is yet to extend his years of stay, which is shocking in some ways as he is definitely one of the players who could leave a huge mark in the long run. Having entered into his final 18 months for this contract,the engine of the team and future captain Henderson’s contract needs to be sorted out at the earliest.

Yes, I understand that contractual agreements take time as it is more than just wages. But LFC should also know that many clubs will be looking for the smallest of breakdowns in the talks between the parties to make a move. In the world of modern football, where loyalties count for nothing more often than not, the onus is on the club to keep their best talent intact. Even if it doesn’t eventually hold back the player with the club, it’ll definitely bolster the transfer fee in case of a sale to avoid further Suso-like cases.

Inability To Close Down Transfer Deals

Window after window, LFC fans go through the pains of seeing the talent the club tries to sign wear another jersey. Willian, Mkhitrayan, Costa and Salah (very recently) are amongst the few high profile transfers that failed to cross the line. What is interesting is that the club recognises the right talent earlier than all others more often than not, only to let it go eventually. The Reds tracked the likes of Hazard, Remy, Mata, Silva amongst a host of other names for years before making a move and it hurts at times thinking what could have been.  It is not unnatural for clubs to miss out on the names they desired for. However, what is unnatural is the consistency with which the Merseysiders miss out on them. Salah is a classic example of the inability of the management to close down the deal. The pacy winger would have been a great addition to the fast teams that Rodgers often puts out. The deal was believed to have finally gone through after a long-drawn negotiation process, till Mourinho and Chelsea decided they needed the player more and he was gone in days.

The scenario is not a lot different right now, only that we are at starting points of the graph in this window. The club has various requirements (especially in the spine: Goalkeeper, Defensive Midfielder, Striker) at the moment. While many might argue that the winter transfer window is inflated, if the right talent is available at the right price, the deal needs to be completed at the earliest. The frustration of courting a player for long and not seeing them pull on the famous red jersey is a worrisome factor. In simple words, it questions the ability of the club to attract the right talent and  the intentions of the management to actually want a player.

The club has a transfer committee in place which identifies the talents they need. The resources spent on identifying the targets cost humongous resources (time as well as money) and the club needs to efficiently make a return on the resources in terms of playing talent, which is not happening at the moment.

Mr. Rodgers Will You Be Our Harvey Specter?

There is no Harvey Specter in the world of football (Mourinho comes close with his Armani suits despite lacking the sleek hairstyle) to help out Ayre and co. close their deals. The common denomination in all these, however, is Brendan Rodgers as his decisions on the pitch as well as in board rooms could determine the course the club travels. The recent early deals of Can, Moreno and Markovic seem promising signs. It remains to be seen whether Rodgers can continue to learn from the clubs’ past and pave a better path.