What is wrong at Liverpool The problems facing Rodgers after nightmare start
10:11 GMT, 25 September 2012
After the controversy and emotion of a highly charged occasion at Anfield on Sunday, reality has started to dawn for Liverpool. This has been a unique time on Merseyside and extraordinary circumstances have meant the focus has been drawn away from results.
But after five matches, they are in the bottom three with just two points. It is their worst start since 1911 and Brendan Rodgers finds himself sharing a record with George Patterson, who was appointed in 1928, as a Liverpool manager failing to win any of his first five league games.
As is always the case with Liverpool, there is never a dull moment but, as they approach a crunch sequence of fixtures, Sportsmail looks at some of the issues that the ebullient Rodgers needs to address to get his side climbing the table.
Winless: The focus now switches back to on-field issues for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool
LACK OF DEPTH
The travails Liverpool endured during the transfer window have been well documented but only now are the ramifications of a summer when they moved on nine players really beginning to hit home, as the squad are set to be stretched to breaking point.
It was confirmed on Monday that England Under-21 right back Martin Kelly will effectively miss the remainder of the season after he ruptured cruciate ligaments in the final stages of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester United.
Key midfielder Lucas Leiva is still out with a torn thigh muscle, Jonjo Shelvey must serve a three-match ban for his sending off against United, while Fabio Borini will be sidelined for a couple of weeks after suffering serious bone bruising to his ankle.
When you consider that leaves Luis Suarez as the only fit senior striker, it is clear Liverpool’s new scouting department of Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter – who started work two weeks ago – will need to move quickly to have reinforcements ready for the January window.
Lone ranger: Suarez is Liverpool's only fit striker
There was, at least, better news with regard to Daniel Agger. It had initially been feared that the Denmark defender had suffered a problem similar to Kelly’s but his agent Per Steffensen confirmed on Monday that Agger could return within a month.
‘Daniel hasn’t torn any ligaments,’ said Steffensen. ‘It’s very good news. He has got a bruise on his bone behind a knee. It is very sore and a bit swollen, but as soon as that goes down he can come back to training.’
THE PROBLEM WITH LUIS
Suarez is Liverpool’s most potent supply of goals, but he is also their biggest worry. If he was to suffer an injury, it would be difficult to see how they would cope but he is also running the risk of picking up a suspension.
The Uruguayan has already received three yellow cards and there is bemusement among Liverpool’s players about how he is being treated by match officials. Certainly against United he was unlucky not to receive some decisions.
Unlucky Suarez was not awarded a penalty after this challenge by Jonny Evans on Sunday
‘I almost guarantee that if Luis was in the position of Antonio Valencia, he wouldn’t have got a penalty,’ said Glen Johnson, who was penalised for a foul on United’s winger.
‘We all know that. Reputations go in front of people, and because Valencia is not known as a diver he gets the decision.
‘I know it is difficult for the referee. Everybody has to do their job. They have to forget who they are looking at.
‘They just have to make the decisions. They can’t let anything from the past affect their decisions. They have to call the shots at the time, regardless of who it is.’
GETTING THE FIRST WIN
The feeling around Liverpool’s squad is that two points are not a fair reflection of how they have played in the opening weeks and, with better fortune, their return from home games against the two Manchester clubs could easily have been six points as opposed to one.
Work to do: Liverpool travel to Norwich on Saturday
Rodgers has certainly got Liverpool operating with a style that is easy on the eye and he has players like Steven Gerrard, Johnson and Joe Allen to inflict on opponents what he has described as ‘death by football’ but the longer they wait for three points, the more hollow those words will become.
‘If you have watched every one of our games – bar the defeat to Arsenal – we have been the best team,’ Johnson argued. ‘There are a lot more positives than it looks.
‘As soon as we get a little bit of luck, I think we are going to beat someone with a big score. We can say that as much as we like but, really, we have got to get down and do it.’
Those are sentiments that Liverpool’s captain shares.
‘We know how many points we have got and it’s not good enough,’ said Gerrard.
‘But if we keep playing with that effort and determination it will only be a matter of time before we go on a sequence. Not many sides will be able to live with us because we are playing some good stuff.’