Eye On EPL

It's way too early to write off Rodgers and City

We are only seven matches into the English Premier League (EPL) season and already, it seems that conclusions are being drawn.

At Anfield, fans and critics want Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers to be sacked while Manchester City, who started the campaign brilliantly with five wins, have relinquished their top spot after a 4-1 humiliation at Tottenham Hotspur.

With 31 games still to be played, I reckon, those predicting doom and gloom for the Reds and City take a step back and realise that it is still far too early to be making judgments on any team or manager.

Liverpool just about secured a 3-2 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday, earning Rodgers some much needed respite in a week where his job has come under intense scrutiny with Reds supporters vehemently wanting him out.

He has also not been helped by the fact that the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and Juergen Klopp are currently without a job and continue to be linked to the hot seat at Anfield.

My only criticism of Rodgers is his transfer strategy. In all honesty, I have to ask, is there even a strategy? He rushes with his decisions in transfers and if the new players don't flourish in their first season, he ships them out. That strikes to me as a manager who has no idea of what he really wants.

But I feel that the 42-year-old Northern Irishman needs more time to prove his worth, at least until January.

A look at the EPL table shows that the Reds are only five points behind league leaders Manchester United. Rodgers has also not been helped by the fact that key striker Daniel Sturridge has been out injured for so long and we saw how important he is to his side with his match- winning brace against Villa.

Football fans can have poor memories. It was just two seasons ago that Liverpool were on the brink of the title.

In that season, Luis Suarez, Sturridge, and Raheem Sterling were in stupendous form as a trio while captain Steven Gerrard seemed to be playing at his peak.

Since then, there has been plenty of ins and outs, with Sturridge being the sole survivor as Suarez and Sterling were sold while Gerrard left the club. It has not been easy for Rodgers in that aspect as he has been forced to build a new team and fit them into his philosophy.

My only criticism of Rodgers is his transfer strategy. In all honesty, I have to ask, is there even a strategy?

Either he signs players to fit into his style of play or he changes his style of play to suit the players he has at his disposal. He has done neither so far.

He rushes with his decisions in transfers and if the new players don't flourish in their first season, he ships them out. That strikes to me as a manager who has no idea of what he really wants.

Rickie Lambert, Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli arrived at the start of last season for a combined fee of £40 million (S$87 million) but after flopping last season, they are either sold or loaned out.

To me, this revolving door transfer policy just shows how wasteful, indecisive and impulsive the manager is.

Liverpool have a tough run of matches coming up.

They host Sion in the Europa League on Thursday before that small matter of a Merseyside derby on Sunday. They then face Spurs, Southampton and Chelsea in consecutive games.

We will have a clearer picture of Rodgers' capabilities and Liverpool's chances this season after these matches.

Meanwhile, City were woeful in their shock loss at Spurs. It was one of those days where Manuel Pellegrini's men failed to turn up while at the same time, the hosts turned in their best performance of the season.

Despite their second defeat in a row, I still feel that City are the strongest team in the league. With the players they have at their disposal this season, it would be almost criminal if they don't win the league.

The season is still young so let's hold back on casting judgments just yet.

There is so much more that will and can happen, especially in the EPL.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'It's way too early to write off Rodgers and City'. Print Edition | Subscribe