If you think you’ve had the odd bad weekend, then spare a thought for Brendan Rodgers.
The Liverpool manager spent the days before the international break looking ridiculous in all manner of ways and if he didn’t realise the size of the task that now faces him at Anfield before a horrible weekend at the end of August, then he sure as hell does now.
Russell Brand has dumped girlfriends with more consideration than Andy Carroll was given by Rodgers, but without securing a replacement before letting the England international go to West Ham, the former Swansea boss was left to look more red-faced than than Sir Alex Ferguson after a night on the whiskey when owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) failed to back his judgment and give him the money to sign his number one target Clint Dempsey.
The American went to Tottenham Hotspur in the final hours of the transfer window to leave Liverpool with just two senior strikers, Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini, who stretch the very definition of the word.
Rodgers looked to the bench as Suarez and Borini floundered and saw Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson – the equivalent of needing a lift home and seeing George Michael wind the window down and offer you a ride.
The failure/reluctance/inability (delete as appropriate) of FSG to give Rodgers an extra couple of quid to sign Dempsey for £6 million is a shocking indictment of where Liverpool now find themselves and the predictable consequences were played out just two days later when Arsenal comfortably beat the Reds 2-0 at Anfield in a chastising afternoon for the Northern Irishman.
As Liverpool failed to muster as much as a genuine chance, Rodgers looked to the bench as Suarez and Borini floundered and saw Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, who boast a total of two Premier League goals between them for the club – the equivalent of needing a lift home and seeing George Michael wind the window down and offer you a ride.
Quite how a club of Liverpool’s stature have found themselves in this position is a debate that could go on until they can rectify the problem in January, but the only thing for certain is that Liverpool are going to have a chronic struggle for goals between now and the new year.
On Saturday, they face a trip to Sunderland, who, like the Merseysiders, are winless so far and it looks set to be a war of attrition. The Reds are 6/5 favourites to claim a first three points for Rodgers, while the Black Cats are 9/4 – the same price as the draw that I will most certainly be backing.
Sunderland at least succeeded where Liverpool failed in the final days of the transfer window, bringing in Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson to significantly add to their attacking options, but if truth be told they were in as just much need as Rodgers’ men and Martin O’Neill has much work to do at the Stadium of Light.
An excellent start after arriving in December (24 points from 13 games) gave way to a poor finish to the season (11 points in 12 games) and the ex-Celtic boss needs to re-energise a squad that has lost its way not even a year into his tenure.
Sunderland have started 2012/13 with two draws, extending their disappointing run to just two wins in 15 league games. However, Liverpool haven’t been much better, winning just four matches during that same period and the sensible shout here has to be the draw at 9/4.
Part of that is because I don’t fancy backing either team to win a match at the moment, and certainly not Liverpool at that price: the Reds have lost eight of their 11 away league games in 2012 and just cannot be backed at a paltry 6/5.
But even though 9/4 on Sunderland is tempting, their form is not. O’Neill’s side have won just two of their last seven at the Stadium of Light, failing to beat (or score against) relegated Wolves and Bolton in the process, and I would rather have the same price on the draw than a home win.
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