Liverpool have now dispatched Gomel in the Europa League qualifying matches and it heralds the true beginning of the Rodgers era at Anfield. In less than ten days sterner tests await with the start of the Premier League and an away game at West Bromwich Albion on 18 August. The Premiership is where it really counts and where we’ll get to see Rodgers Liverpool playing tougher opposition but with a full-strength team executing their new brand of football, the tiki-taka style of zonal play which is so often associated with the likes of Barcelona. Apparently part of this approach sees Rodgers divide the field into eight zones each having it’s own different duties and roles and if Thursday’s 3-0 victory is anything to go by the signs look very promising. It’s a style that will improve Liverpool’s ability to retain and regain possession and turn it into penetrating, attacking football that hopefully will culminate into goals that we were so badly missing throughout the last several seasons. I understand as supporters we’ll need to be patient for this new style of football to take hold and become second nature to the players but no more should we be seeing the ball being hoofed up-field resulting in a quick loss of possession. Instead the vision is we’ll see a consistent, quick passing, approach that will endeavour to frustrate and wear down opposing teams.
However, it’s not necessarily an approach that’s new to Liverpool. Having been fortunate enough to watch the Reds dominate football both domestically and in Europe in the 70’s & 80’s under the stewardship of Shankly, Paisley and Joe Fagan Liverpool’s trademark was patience. There was an engrained belief throughout the team that by remaining calm, sticking to the game-plan and patiently probing and moving forward the opposition would tire, begin to make mistakes and create an opening that eventually would lead to the winner or equalizer no matter how few minutes were left on the clock. I don’t know the stats but I can tell you Liverpool scored a lot of late winners throughout those two decades and all because of this approach. In short, Liverpool never gave up and never accepted defeat until the final whistle. Of course it helped that throughout this period Liverpool had some of the most outstanding players in the clubs history playing for them but I’m working on the assumption that Rodgers approach will apply the same principle of patience, keeping possession through short, quick-passing and constant movement of the ball forward.
It’s because of the tiki-taka style that players like Carroll begin to lose favour. It’s not because Carroll isn’t a quality player, he is, but it’s his physical stature that can influence players to start looking for the long-ball, especially when things are not going well and they’re searching for an equalizer. Players of the intelligence and skill like Gerrard, Lucas and Suarez fit perfectly into Rogers approach and they’ll welcome the opportunity to express themselves in such a creative manner. Of that trio Rogers made special mention of Suarez after their impressive 3-0 win at Anfield “Luis is an incredible player,” said Rodgers. “He has come back to us and looked great in training. He is so creative in the box but he also presses very well when he doesn’t have the ball. He is the type of player I love. He is in love with football. He has such passion for the game.”
The Rodgers era is underway and the initial signs are good and I’m confident that is a few months time we’ll all be feeling even more positive about his new stewardship at Anfield.