Strength in numbers and courage of purpose. Ideas are at their most powerful when they go beyond that of a simple act and become part of something bigger. A worthy cause will tug at the heart for much longer.
No matter how lofty the goal or how difficult the journey, if you can get people to believe in what you’re doing then anything can seem possible.
A vision regardless of how grand, cannot come into existence through the actions of one man alone. Whether it be a person’s time, talent or even money the truly great ideas need a collection of minds and materials to come together. The power itself comes not from the foundation or strength of that notion but the conviction of those willing to put it into practise.
First and foremost managers need the players to buy into them as a person if they are to get the best out of them. Without a basic respect for those in senior positions, the basic structure of the team dies there and then.
Secondly – and perhaps more importantly – if the club is to go in a new direction, it is much better do so as one. There is no guarantee of anything either way but if aspects of a regime that needed changing undermine them, the results will only be negative.
André Villas-Boas knows all about that.
Continuously repeating something without any context will eventually lead to it’s meaning being lost. Since the moment Brendan Rodgers took control at Liverpool Football Club all the talk has been about “the system”. The club is in the process of a complete overhaul but it has remained a constant throughout.
What actually is it? One thing it isn’t, is a set formation. As a label, it’s fundamentally flawed because it’s more of a style of play than a set way of lining up. In spite of it’s inflexibility in the manager’s mind, the ideals of it are very much the opposite.
Everything about the way in which Rodgers sets his team up is geared toward obtaining and maintaining a clear man advantage in every area of the park. There is no counter to that as even toughest of tacklers can still be easily bypassed by good passing and movement. It’s about getting people in certain positions so that Liverpool can exploit those advantages. Conversely the theory is not so much that there will be gaps in behind but that you have a personnel smart enough to close them. In essence, though the line ups would be different, a Brendan Rodgers 4-4-2 would play almost identically to a 4-3-3.
What the manager wants are those intangible players who would be able to play effectively in all set formations.
That being said it does go some way as to explaining the thought process as to why Andy Carroll never seemed to be a part of his thinking as he could have flourished in certain circumstances. Likewise Stewart Downing hasn’t covered himself in a huge amount of glory in a Liverpool shirt, but it’s clear to see that his versatility means there will be a part to play for him.
The Rodgers method relies heavily on fluidity and movement as much as tactical awareness and technical ability. At its most basic it’s pass and move football, which has been highlighted by the way in which so many players have been able to make the step up from the youth ranks and appear comfortable with it. If anything, it’s the more senior of the squad that have been the focus as of late.
Let’s get one thing straight. Steven Gerrard can not only play in this team, he can be a vital part of it. Which is part of problem, he can play in any single way possible; he’s that good.
Arsenal aside – which was pretty rotten all around – he seems to have settled into a way of playing that is more befitting of the rest of the team. Away at Sunderland was a particularly subdued performance but equally in the absence of Lucas Leiva was exactly what was required.
It also highlights the wider issue in that supporters can’t have it both ways. He can’t do the job given to him by the manager and be the swashbuckling, all conquering captain that we’ve come to know over the years. There will be times where the latter will have to take preference over the former but for the most part, Stevie will have to get used to being a cog in a machine.
Pepe Reina is another one to whom the fingers have been pointed toward and a surprising one at that. All the talk before a ball had even been kicked was that Rodgers’ style of play was going to suit him down to the ground. Being in the midst of a bad run of form will affect all aspects of your play however and Pepe’s once ever reliable distribution now seems very off. One of the reasons for this is the transparency with which we now have to play.
Opponents know how we’re going to play it out from the back, just as you would scout any team and try to incorporate that in a way which disrupts proceedings. From here there are two options. The first is to knock it long, not a massive amount just enough to give them something else to think about and relieve the pressure.
The other is to react differently.
Given the so called predictability in Liverpool’s play out from the back, there will be a lot in the reaction of the opposition. A lot of the way in which the team will set up under Brendan Rodgers is based on the idea of playing the better football. That involves touch, technique and anticipation. Playing the ball in the air will not be the long term solution, those involved in the play in those areas will just have to react and generally be sharper and better technically than their opponents.
So far this season the team has looked at it’s best when it’s maximising everything Brendan Rodgers believes in. There have been mistakes both individually and tactically, ones that have to be eradicated because at the highest level you will always be punished for them.
In the summer, the manager arrived with his ideas and begun incorporating Liverpool Football Club into them. Having embraced them, together as one the club can move forward. There is still an awful lot to be ironed out but there is a tangible something there.
Stand for nothing and you’ll fall for anything. Believe in something and you can make it a reality.