Liverpool go into this Saturday's home encounter with West Bromwich Albion without a league win since Tottenham were demolished at White Hart Lane on the last afternoon in August. They have not kept a single clean sheet at Anfield in any competition and Rodgers admitted Liverpool were unrecognisable from the side that swept to second place in the league last season.
Asked if there will be more troubles while the young players he brought to Merseyside in the summer bed in, the Liverpool manager replied: “I think the pain is for now. I think that is unfortunate.”
In contrast to his mentor, Jose Mourinho, who bought proven quality, Rodgers invested much of the £75m raised by Suarez’s sale on young talent – Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Divock Origi cost a combined £40m and all are aged 20 or younger. A further £45m went on the Southampton pair, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, who would have been expected to contribute immediately.
“Chelsea brought in a seasoned professional to the League in Cesc Fabregas and then they bought Diego Costa, who is someone we looked at a couple of years back,” said Rodgers. “We lost a top-class player and then had to bring other players in to help us now and in the future. Once they settle in, I think we will move back to where we were. There will be frustration now, absolutely.”
If it was possible to believe that Liverpool could cope without Suarez, who scored 31 times last season, it was impossible to think they could deal without Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, who today signed a new long-term contract with the club that runs until the summer of 2019.
It is not a surprise to Rodgers that their decline should have been precipitated by Sturridge injuring himself on England duty. There is little chance Liverpool will risk a breakdown in their relations with the Football Association by playing him today after he was ruled out of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Rodgers’ first game as Liverpool manager was against West Brom and in the short term at least his job involves as much rebuilding as it did when he succeeded Kenny Dalglish in 2012. “It must be so difficult for the supporters to see a team that for 18 months has been so fluent and dynamic and now they see a team which in many ways has no resemblance to that,” said Rodgers. “Our game is based a lot on possession but we are also a threat in transition when we have won the ball back and are on the break.
“We don’t look a threat on the break at the moment. We could argue that we don’t even play in transition. We are getting no one in behind, no-one breaking lines. Our team dynamic was also based on playing without the ball – that means running and getting in behind people. Once we lose the movement and speed of Sturridge that has broken the dynamic a little bit for us.”Reuse content