Brendan Rodgers: The Right Appointment?

As Liverpool’s season appears to be petering out, there is lots of talk online that perhaps FSG hired the wrong man last summer, or indeed that they shouldn’t have fired Kenny Dalglish in the first place.

I’m going to look at if Liverpool have improved on last season, and also at the form of the other names that were in the frame to be appointed as manager at Anfield last summer, to try to see if Rodgers really is the right man to lead Liverpool forward.
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Kenny Dalglish Should Remain As Manager. Here’s Why…

Having not seen any of the recent defeat to West Bromwich Albion, I’m not best placed to comment on it. However, a look at the stats shows that Liverpool dominated the match, with 63% possession and thirty shots to the Baggies’ nine. On that basis, it seems to be similar to numerous matches from earlier in the campaign when Liverpool’s profligacy in front of goal cost them the points that their general play deserved.

But a defeat it was, and to Roy Hodgson of all people; such a result was guaranteed to crank up the ‘Kenny Out’ brigade, and so it has proved. Of course, some people say the match showed why Kenny should remain in charge, in view of the above match statistics and the performance generally. Fans will always be split into optimists and pessimists after all, and I currently find myself in the former of the two camps.

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Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

Things are so bleak at Liverpool right now that the vultures in the media are circling, ready to write their obituaries for the second Kenny Dalglish management era at Anfield.

The Guardian posted ‘Ten facts to put Liverpool’s dismal league campaign into context’ on Monday, and whilst the facts are not incorrect, I’m not sure that there’s enough of the context they speak of to paint a fair picture. Here are some examples:

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Quantifying Progress, From Roy To Kenny

This piece first appeared on The Tomkins Times on March 15th 2012, and the stats included are correct up to and including the match away at Sunderland on March 10th.

After a series of poor league results, including three defeats in a row for the first time in nearly a decade, stern questions are being asked of Kenny and his team’s management of Liverpool, probably for the first time; were the most suitable players purchased in the summer, have the tactics been right, and so on.

Things have been so bad lately that Dalglish’s recent league form has matched that of his predecessor’s; Roy Hodgson recorded an average of 1.25 points-per-game at Liverpool, and the Reds have the same figure from their previous sixteen matches this season too (though as the first eleven games this term yielded 1.73 points-per-game, things haven’t reached Hodgson-esque levels overall just yet).

I wrote a brief piece for EPLIndex recently which demonstrated that only on very few occasions this season have Liverpool been bested by their opponents at various match statistics, illustrating that, even if the results haven’t always been quite what is desired, at least the performances have generally been good.

But there was no comparison to other teams in that article, so whilst the numbers were good, were they any better or worse than anyone else, or what had come before at Liverpool?

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Roy vs Kenny: 20 Game Comparison

Following a request on Twitter for this information, below is a graph showing the vital three statistics for Liverpool’s first twenty league games in the last two seasons: goals for, goals against, and points won, all measured on a per-game basis.

Twenty league games was the full extent of Roy Hodgson’s tenure in the Anfield hotseat, hence why that is the length of time studied here in order to compare it with Kenny Dalglish’s first full season in charge.

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Myths #3: Hodgson’s Liverpool Record Compares Closely To Dalglish’s

I have recently been reading tweets that suggest that Kenny Dalglish has barely improved on Roy Hodgson’s record for Liverpool, despite having a lot more money to play with.

MoosaMUFC14 pointed out: “LFC under Dalglish (PL, FA and EL): Played 33, won 16, drawn 9, lost 8. Hodgson: Played 29, won 13, drawn 8, lost 8.”

Whilst DylanMUFC14 (I assume they must be teenage brothers) said: “Dalglish has improved #LFC’s League, FA Cup & European results by just 6.8% on the Roy Hodgson era,despite spending £91.85m more..”

Blimey, and I thought Dalglish had been doing a much better job than Hodgson. How wrong I was.

Or was I?

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