Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers is, commentary constantly reminds us, a young manager. This is true; he has barely turned 40. He is bound to make mistakes. My concern at the moment is that he's making them in public and I'm not entirely sure he's learning from them.
Let's get the envelopes out of the way immediately shall we?
'Being Liverpool', although apparently genuinely wildly successful in boosting LFC's profile in America, hasn't helped the perception at home that Brendan may be more than a little......well, David Brent.
From the day that he was unveiled as Liverpool's replacement for the outgoing Kenny Dalglish it has been possible to quickly fill your card on 'Brendan Rodgers Bingo', the early leader being 'I will fight with my life for this club and the fans'. The parody Twitter account @BrendanRodgersOkay highlights how easy it is to lampoon a standard Rodgers-esque meme; "Three things, okay?", "Do it for Lucas"' the fourth point that always emerges at the end of the 'three things'.
The envelopes were the most absurd exemplar of this; "In these three envelopes I have the names of three players who WILL let Liverpool down. Make sure your name isn't in there." At the start of the season. As a motivational tool.
They CAN'T make sure their name isn't in there Brendan, you've sealed them. It doesn't matter what they do for the next 9 months, if their name is in there, their name is in there. All they can do is prove that you were wrong to put it in there in the first place. "That's an Alex Ferguson tactic" we cried in defence of this odd, illogical tactic; reduced to using the schemes of the manager we hate more than any other man on the planet as justification for our own new manager pulling such a shallow stunt. Because Ferguson does this doesn't mean it works.
This throws into light a fear that Brendan is no more than an accumulation of underlined passages in coaching manuals, certainly a stance that opposition fans are taking. My own theory is that he is genuinely still learning, that he is willing to test out new techniques adopted from others in order to find his own successful blend.
Which would beg the question "Who did he adopt last night's outburst from?"
"I was really disappointed in our young players"
Which young players exactly? The majority of the starting 11 was 22 years of age or under and of the over 22s, Skrtel and Jones didn't exactly garland themselves in glory.
So, again, which young players? Who are you pointing the finger at? Sterling who was ineffectual? Robinson who could have squared for an equaliser but opted to shoot wildly off target instead? Coates whose lack of game time this season may well have been the cause of him turning from an outstanding young Uruguyan international into an accident waiting to happen. And happen repeatedly. Could it be that you were actually referring to Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, two players that you assured us that we would be incredibly excited about? Allen showed flashes until mid October then appeared to lose all confidence in his own ability. Borini is yet to show anything.
So who do we blame? Here's an idea, Brendan; stand up and shoulder the blame yourself. Coates and Robinson will both be lacking in any confidence after that very vocal vote of distrust. Wisdom too and he's been a bonus in the league so far this season. Allen and Borini have had very public support to date, they quite possibly feel relatively sure of their place in your plans but the rest of these young lads you're "really disappointed in"? Possibly not so comfortable at the moment.
Non specific, all encompassing criticism but not inclusive of the management team's decisions? Not great man management. Here's some phrases you may have wanted to use instead; "There were some poor performances out there today", "Nobody comes out of today with a great deal of credit", "It's hard to find any real positives in that display" The potential for clichéd manager speak is endless here but to blame 'the young players' as a group? Poor. Here's one that would have been more than suitable."I take the blame for this. I thought the team that I selected would be good enough to get the result. They weren't and that's my fault"
And this is where not learning from mistakes comes in. Has there been opportunity to look at a situation where we have fielded a weakened team in a cup competition and suffered as a consequence? Three words. Swansea. Capital One. And a week after complaining that the team was too quiet, that there weren't enough leaders on the pitch, after dropping Martin Skrtel in order to accommodate the vocal qualities that Jamie Carragher lends to the back line you chose to start an assuredly physically demanding game with no leaders on the pitch at all?
I firmly believe that Brendan Rodgers knows what he wants, knows what he needs to do to get there. I firmly believe that we need to keep the faith with Brendan, need to believe that he's the man to lead us. I firmly believe that we never stop learning. I just want to believe that Brendan IS learning. I really, really want to believe in Brendan.
This article originally appeared on Mumbling into the Void.