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Liverpool’s resounding win against Norwich City last weekend was supposed to be a catalyst for change. It was supposed to be the fixture that ended a terribly unlucky start to the season and start to the Brendan Rodgers project at Anfield.
The word project perfectly fitting because of the long term nature of the task that faces him. In his first few months in charge, noticeable changes have taken place. Rodgers wants to implement a style of play which proved so effective at Swansea, but to achieve this, a revamp is a must. Out with the old and in with the new has been the running theme over the summer in Merseyside.
Players like Andy Caroll and Charlie Adam, who were brought in during Kenny Dalglish’s period in charge, have been axed as the new manager seeks to bring in the right footballers for what he is trying to achieve. Changes to any team will always mean a time of transition, it will inevitable mean an unsettled time as new players adjust to their new environment.
Having said this, no one would have predicted such an unsettled start to Liverpool’s campaign. Before the weekend just gone, they had played five Premier League games, losing three and without recording a win. Performances have not been bad, but luck has been far from them, as Rodgers continues to reiterate.
A 5-2 win at Carrow Roadon Saturday changed that and finally gave Liverpool the domestic win they deserved, after harsh results against Man City, Arsenal and Man United. It seemed their luck had changed and their season had re-started.
Udinese did not read the script though ahead of their Europa League fixture with the Reds on Thursday. In particular, their striker Di Natalie who’s class and experience lent a hard lesson to an experimental Liverpool team. Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard took their places on the bench before the game – a decision by the manager that will no doubt be argued by many – nevertheless it was a Liverpool team which included quality and more significantly a team of players keen to impress.
The first half saw Liverpool boss Udinese in front of an ignited Kop crowd. A 23rd minute goal for Jonjo Shelvey was the first of what could and maybe should have been a few first half goals for Liverpool, who failed to capitalise on their neat play. Their luck worsened within a minute after the break when the timeless classic that is Di Natale stepped up to equalise for the visitors.
Further pressure and unconvincing defending led to a second for Udinese via the headed own goal of Sebastien Coates on the 70th minute mark, and a third two minutes later from Giovanni Pasquale.
The result proved the hangover from Dalglish’s time in charge remains. The fact is it may not be a physical problem anymore than it is a psychological issue that Liverpool are not winning games that they should. They have often been without luck already this season but that will not hold up for very long with the Merseyside faithful. The issue may be a lacking winning mentality that has been left to linger like a bad smell over Anfield, a problem that Rodgers will need time to fix.
The question is, how long will he have before criticism is directed at him and the lack of luck excuse is no longer in place? Sitting 14th in the league as they go into the third month of the season, Rodgers will know results must pick up soon.
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Written by Alfie Long
Follow him on Twitter @pitchsidetalk
Check out his excellent blog, Pitchside Talk
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