Brendan Rodgers’ lively Liverpool side gave the clearest indication yet that they are adapting to the methods of their manager as the Reds recorded their biggest win of the season by thrashing Norwich City 5-0 on Saturday. It was the first time in over 20 months that the Anfield outfit had achieved three consecutive home victories in the Premier League, with the Merseysiders’ season now finally threatening to come together.
Many supporters will focus on the brilliance of star striker Luis Suarez, who found the net once again to take his tally of goals to 20 for the campaign. Others will praise recent signing Daniel Sturridge for scoring in each of his first three games since joining Liverpool earlier this month. Veteran defender Jamie Carragher, however, is unlikely to make many headlines, even though Rodgers’ decision to include the ageing Englishman in his starting line-up was a talking point in the immediate build-up to the game.
It was only Carragher’s second start of the season and Rodgers later explained that he made the decision to pick the 34-year-old centre-back because he felt Liverpool were missing some leadership. According to ESPN, Rodgers said: “We are a quiet team and he’s a great organiser – he manages the game very well, he’s got big experience, and he can play football. I thought him coming in would give us that extra bit of leadership. We saw that from him, he was fantastic.”
The former Swansea boss added: “Jamie Carragher hasn’t put a foot wrong for me since I came. He has been absolutely brilliant. He hasn’t played as often as he’d have liked. He’s played in a lot of the cup games and I’d hoped to not put a curse on him, but I said to him that I couldn’t remember him making a mistake in any of the games since I’ve been here.
In a week where both skipper Steven Gerrard and Rodgers himself have publicly stated their disagreement with the owners’ preferred policy of signing players aged 23 and under, could Carragher’s inclusion have been an attempt to strengthen the manager’s argument that experience is an important ingredient when trying to build a successful team?
That Carragher helped Liverpool keep their ninth clean-sheet of the season – only champions Manchester City have kept more – may have aided Rodgers’ point. Whether his timely comments about experience and leadership after that game will help to alter Fenway Sports Group’s recruitment policy remains to be seen.
It is not often that both the manager and captain of a team speak out against the ideas and plans of their bosses, but Rodgers and Gerrard have done exactly that – albeit in a polite and respectful manner. Rodgers has handed opportunities to several young players since he replaced Kenny Dalglish in the summer and the new manager appears to be getting the most out of the likes of Andre Wisdom and Raheem Sterling.
Rodgers does not seem to be against the idea of playing and developing youngsters, but his recent comments suggest that he feels adding some experience to the squad would help Liverpool’s cause. Carragher’s weekend performance may give John Henry and co some food for thought.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG
Think you know your football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition – £11,000 to be won monthly!