Liverpool Focus – Sahin exception to Rodgers’ flourishing performers

Thank God I have left Brendan Rodgers,” was the unflattering comment Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin reportedly made about the Liverpool manager earlier this week, with the Borussia Dortmund player adamant that the former Swansea boss was to blame for his brief and unhappy loan spell at Anfield earlier this season.

Sahin, who arrived on Merseyside from Real Madrid with the intention of plying his trade in the Premier League for a season, claimed that Rodgers’ insistence on playing him in an unfamiliar role behind the striker caused a disagreement between the two men.

Although Sahin – who made just 12 appearances in a Liverpool shirt, scoring three goals – was glad to get away from Rodgers, there are other examples of players who have made a mark under the Reds’ boss. It would perhaps be obvious to suggest that the young trio of Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Suso have made an impact this term, particularly in the first half of the campaign. However, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique, who were all signed by Kenny Dalglish, have also improved this season.

After sealing a big-money switch to Anfield from Villa Park, Downing failed to score or assist a single league goal last term, leaving many fans frustrated. The winger also appeared to be out of favour under Rodgers, but the Englishman is beginning to turn his career around on Merseyside. Two goals in his last two appearances have certainly helped his cause. What also appears to have helped was Rodgers’ experimental use of Downing at left-back on some occasions this season, as the midfielder looked more confident and comfortable in tracking back and trying to help his teammates regain possession during the 3-2 victory against high-flying Tottenham Hotspur. Downing is likely to continue on the wing when Liverpool take on Southampton this weekend.

Left-back Jose Enrique, too, has impressed. At one point, it appeared as though Rodgers had lost faith in the Spaniard, but a few games in a wide attacking role brought the best out of the former Newcastle man and although he has now returned to playing in defence, that short spell in a more advanced position seems to have increased his awareness of star forward Luis Suarez, which has allowed for a greater attacking threat when Enrique bombs forward down the touchline.

Downing and Enrique are two examples of players who have benefitted from playing in a different position and perhaps Rodgers hoped that a similar experiment with Sahin may have produced similar results. Unfortunately, whether that would have turned out to be the case will never be known now that Sahin is no longer with the club, but Rodgers is unlikely to pay too much attention to the midfielder’s comments.

Instead, the Liverpool manager will be looking to guide his side to a victory over Southampton on Saturday. Depending on how Arsenal perform at Swansea, the Anfield outfit could even see themselves climb up into fifth place at the weekend. But based on their inconsistency this season, Rodgers will be taking nothing for granted.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Southampton v Liverpool

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