Comment and Analysis @MatthewStanger
Rodgers' problems continue to grow
Brendan Rodgers will now be experiencing a different type of pressure, writes Matt Stanger, following Liverpool’s disappointing defeat at St James’ Park
Last Updated: 01/11/14 6:44pm
Another lifeless Liverpool performance leaves Brendan Rodgers with plenty to ponder ahead of Tuesday's trip to Real Madrid as Newcastle United's resurgence continued with their fourth consecutive victory.
Considering this fixture has produced more goals than any other in the Premier League, Saturday's encounter was surprisingly subdued before the hosts broke the deadlock late in the second half. Liverpool were particularly poor before the break, waiting until the 40th minute to muster their first attempt, and failed to replicate the rousing fight-back that defeated Swansea City in the Capital One Cup, managing just a single shot after Ayoze Perez's 73rd-minute strike.
With both teams looking for inspiration following a dull opening period, the introduction of Perez and Remy Cabella provided Alan Pardew's side with a telling attacking threat. Rodgers, meanwhile, was left to rue his unconvincing summer spending, relying on Fabio Borini and goalless Rickie Lambert to make the difference.
The contrast between the two teams' substitutions highlights Rodgers' struggles in the transfer market. Although Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic may eventually come good, it remains to be seen whether that juncture will arrive too late to secure a top-four place this season. The first two stayed on the bench at St James' Park, while Markovic was not even included in the squad. When Liverpool were desperate for a goal, £45m worth of attacking talent was left unused.
Rodgers has frequently passed comment on Tottenham Hotspur's transfer failings with the money they received for Gareth Bale in 2013, but he is now facing the same accusations.
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"Look at Tottenham, (when) you spend over £100m you would expect to be challenging for the league," said Rodgers as he spoke about Liverpool punching above their weight before the defeat by Chelsea in April. He must now regret those words after the same level of investment has seen his team go backwards.
Failing to take advantage of the Luis Suarez windfall is not Liverpool's only similarity to Spurs, as they revealed in their fourth Premier League defeat of the campaign. Individual errors are also proving problematic, with Alberto Moreno's hesitation gifting Newcastle the decisive goal - a mistake he also made against Manchester City - and Simon Mignolet almost doing the same in the first half when he failed to meet a cross, forcing Glen Johnson to clear off the line.
There was no purpose to Liverpool's play. Despite averaging 59 per cent possession, they managed only six shots as Tim Krul enjoyed a quiet afternoon. The passing was often aimless - particularly out of defence, with Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel completing just five of 16 long balls attempted - while Liverpool were wasteful in the final third. That Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho recorded pass accuracy rates of 64% and 67%, respectively, emphasises the lack of understanding in an attack that previously looked telepathic.
So far this season, the spotlight has been on Mario Balotelli's performances, but gradually it appears to be turning on Rodgers. "People talk about pressure but it is absolutely wonderful," the manager continued in April. It is unlikely he is feeling equally optimistic 10 games into the current campaign.