Liverpool Focus - Rodgers’ youthful gambles bode well for the future
It takes a great deal of courage to place your faith in raw and inexperienced youngsters at a football club, but new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is already proving that he is not afraid to make such bold moves. The very fact that Reds’ supporters have been singing Rodgers’ name with gusto, even though Liverpool have yet to taste victory in the Premier League under the former Swansea boss, suggests that they find his approach refreshing and exciting.
For years the Merseysiders have glanced at Manchester United’s skilful and speedy wide-men with envy, wondering when they too would be able to cheer on their very own wing wizard. Thanks to Rodgers’ willingness to give youth a chance, they have finally found such a player in the form of Raheem Sterling, who is already a household name at the tender age of 17.
When Fabio Borini was forced to end his participation at half-time in the recent crunch clash against the Red Devils due to injury – and with Liverpool already down to ten-men following Jonjo Shelvey’s dismissal - many expected Rodgers to throw on either Nuri Sahin or Jordan Henderson to add some steel to the midfield. Instead, he called on 18-year-old Spanish starlet Suso. The confident youngster impressed and even managed to play a part in the build-up to skipper Steven Gerrard’s superb strike.
Given that Liverpool are in desperate need of a win in the top-flight, Rodgers rested his key players for the weekend game at Norwich and fielded a young side in the midweek Capital One Cup fixture at West Brom. The likes of Andre Wisdom, Jack Robinson, Dani Pacheco and Samid Yesil all started on the night, while Jerome Sinclair, 16, came off the bench to become the youngster Liverpool player to feature in a game. The Reds won 2-1. Rodgers’ gamble had paid off.
The youngsters will not always impress, but the very fact that they are being given a chance is important. Not only does this allow the manager to rotate his squad, but it is also likely to keep the more experienced players on their toes. Stewart Downing can no longer expect to be first choice, because Sterling is now fighting to stay in the team. Jose Enrique too, could soon find himself behind Robinson in the pecking order. Suso and Shelvey will also aim to outshine their older teammates, as will others. There is now a healthy competition within the squad. Very few can expect to make the team automatically.
Despite all of that, Rodgers will know that he must rack up some Premier League wins sooner rather than later if he is to maintain his positive relationship with the Anfield crowd. A trip to Norwich provides the Reds with the perfect opportunity to clinch three points and get their season up and running. The question is, will Rodgers keep faith in the younger members of the squad and select them for the fixture? On this evidence, the answer to that is likely to be a yes.
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