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reds in need of leaders

WHEN Liverpool went through a bad patch in my day, the manager and coaches had a habit of pulling out old notes for comparison if answers were not easily found on the training pitch.

Sometimes nobody knows why a group of footballers hammer all before them for weeks and months but suddenly drop off the edge of a cliff.

The practice then was to keep notes, all sorts of notes and the coaches would go back over them to see if there was anything different.

What were we doing during a spell where we beat Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton or had a good run of results in Europe? What way were we training? What was the group dynamic like?

Often, we would go back in time and do exactly what we were doing during a really good spell and it worked. I don't know whether it was the detail or simply the confidence you borrowed fromk knowing that doing things a particular way achieved top results, but it did work.

I wonder is Brendan Rodgers doing that now? He takes notes all the time and maybe he is searching through them for an answer to the fact that his players are not playing for him at the moment.

Cast your mind back to White Hart Lane on the last day of August. Liverpool, with Daniel Sturridge as Rodgers main striker, tore Spurs apart in much the same way they beat teams for five months last season.

So the vision was intact at that point for Rodgers and he was and is right to continue to pursue it. There are times when he needs to be less of a purist but essentially, his goals are the correct ones.

I think I must say that we are post-Suarez now in terms of what his players should be doing on the pitch and perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Rodgers is now coping with life without Sturridge.

deficit

On top of that, I'm not so sure that all Rodgers' players have got over Suarez yet even though it is long beyond the time when professional footballers should have rolled up there sleeves and set to work filling the gap his exit left behind.

Physically, that was an enormous deficit but against Spurs and in several games last season when Suarez didn't play, Liverpool still had enough to play dynamic, winning football.

With Sturridge out of the picture, I wonder did some players' heads go down and is that the biggest battle Rodgers now has on his hands?

It certainly looks that way and never more so than against Crystal Palace.

Many of the fundamentals were missing and after the game, Rodgers spoke about the fact that Liverpool were poor defensively and lacked creativity when they had the ball.

Well there's not much left to do on a football pitch than defend and attack so Liverpool are in a very worrying place if neither is happening well enough.

He deserves grace; I've no hesitation in saying that. He has been overtaken by events and has been repairing on the run.

But still. Why am I seeing players like Phillipe Coutinho unable to do any of the things he was doing seven months ago and the general feeling around the team that confidence is lacking?

Rodgers relentlessly tells us that everything is fine on the training ground and that spirits are high but I don't see that reflected in the performances. Almost the opposite if we're being realistic.

It's one thing for Liverpool to take a 3-1 beating from Manchester City or Chelsea but Crystal Palace? Worse than that, a Neil Warnock team doing all the things that Liverpool should have been doing but were not?

Rodgers has been doing some chopping and changing and the new blood he injected into the team have not covered themselves in glory.

I keep looking up the road and see how quickly Angel di Maria slotted in at Old Trafford or Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez down in London and the impact they have had for Chelsea and Arsenal.

They brought certainty and a fierce inner confidence with them and were able to walk onto the pitch and make a difference immediately.

Other players at those clubs will look up to these lads and take leadership from them. Suarez did it last season. I would imagine he was always on, always pushing people around him by doing the work himself. By being himself, he made other players better.

Is anyone doing that at Anfield at the moment. Steven Gerrard is a fading power and I don't really see anyone else stepping forward to help support him.

PREPARED

And I wonder is there anyone in the dressing room prepared to have a right, shouting-in-your-face, go at team mates. We used to do it and that's the type of spirit I wanted around me.

Team spirit doesn't mean that everyone gets on. It means that the man beside you has confidence in his own contribution and ability to pull you up and give you a verbal going over if he felt you deserved it.

I look at this bunch of red shirts and then Rodgers and I'm not sure I see anyone losing their temper. Maybe that's what it needs right now.


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