Another game, another disappointing performance.
It’s got to a point where the fans are genuinely surprised when the side manages to put up a half decent performance. While most would have expected Chelsea to beat a faltering Liverpool this afternoon; few expected the abysmal team selection. On paper, the side put forward by Brendan might look like the strongest side Liverpool can possibly put together. However, the reality is quite different.
The team selection, week in week out has been questionable and there is arguably an air of favoritism over Anfield. The manager who earned so many plaudits last season for picking the side on merit and helping the likes of Henderson and Flanagan grow within the first team, seems to have abandoned his principles and philosophies.
Despite making crucial errors in almost every game he has started, Lovren seems to be the first name on the team sheet. The Croatian was responsible for another goal this afternoon, after he missed the initial header that led to Chelsea’ equalizer. Despite an imperious defensive display at the Bernabeu, Kolo Toure was inexplicably benched. The same could be said about the likes of Henderson and Skrtel who continue to be automatic starters, despite poor showings in the last few games.
While the team selection has been a concern, the tactical setups have been questionable as well. Despite ample evidence that the new players (Markovic, Balotelli) are struggling to fit into the current system, the manager has done little to help them settle (in terms of using them in familiar roles/systems). Markovic, who is regarded as one of world’s finest young talents has been clearly misused on the right wing time and again, as the Serbian continues to struggle and look like a shadow of his former self at Benfica. And Mario Balotelli continues to underperform as the lone striker, despite showing glimpses of his quality when playing with a partner.
And despite all that, here I am struggling to determine who to blame for the defeat. Was it Brendan Rodgers, who is finding it tough to let go of his ego and pick players on merit and in a system that suits all of his players? Or was it the shambolic refereeing from Anthony Taylor, who managed to overlook a stonewall penalty in the second half.
Liverpool have to try and move on from this as quickly as possible. But it will not be easy. Not unless Brendan Rodgers decides to bury his demons.