Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers maintained his composure to blame the Reds’ 3-2 FA Cup defeat at Oldham Athletic on his young players, confirming his transformation into one of the game’s brightest young buck-passers since taking the Anfield hot seat in the summer.
The Brendan Rodgers Blame Game has not always been up and operational. Just last season, Rodgers accepted culpability for his Swansea City side’s defeat to Manchester United, saying:
If there is any blame it is to me. I ask my players to play and pass the ball out rather than kick it up the field.
Command however can be lonely, so it was heartening to see Rodgers adopt a siege mentality straight from the off at Anfield, blaming referee Phil Down for a 3-0 opening day defeat at West Bromwich Albion:
I’m not going to go on about the referee, but I thought the two penalty decisions were very harsh. I don’t think either was a penalty and Martin Skrtel doesn’t even connect for the second one.
The following month, he blamed referee Mark Halsey for defeat at home to Manchester United:
Decisions didn’t go our way today. If Jonjo Shelvey gets sent off, Jonny Evans has to get sent off as well. It is a tackle the player has to go for and also one the Manchester United player has to go for. But the Liverpool player can’t get sent off and the Manchester United player stay on the field. There were a number of poor decisions.
Onto October, where a thin squad was to blame for a 3-1 League Cup reversal at home to former side Swansea City:
We have a very, very small squad. A very thin squad. With three competitions, I have rotated, looked at young players and looked at fringe players. That was a lesson for me in terms of where we are at.
Of course, Joe Cole was also to blame for that:
Joe Allen was virtually playing on his own in midfield. Joe Cole had an opportunity, the club has invested a astronomical sum of money on a talented player and he has to seize his opportunities. It was too slow, it just was not what I would expect from a team I had set up to be dynamic so I think it was a difficult night for him.
Culpability shifted to his defence after a 3-1 defeat at Stoke City on Boxing Day:
You’ve got to defend much better than that – the three goals were too soft. They’re quite straightforward, really: a direct ball, one from a corner and one ended up coming from a throw-in. It was disappointing.
But striker Luis Suarez was defended over his hand ball in the previous round of the FA Cup’s 2-1 win at Mansfield Town:
I have just seen it again and there is no doubt it was handball. I think what the referee and the officials were looking was that it wasn’t deliberate, which it clearly wasn’t. I spoke to the fourth official after the goal was given and asked him if it was handball, because I couldn’t see, and he said it was.
So obviously it is unfortunate for Mansfield and lucky for us that we got the goal. It doesn’t really happen in football, to be honest. You don’t see it (happen) and it’s not Luis’s job to do that. He’s gone in there, it hasn’t been a deliberate handball – [the ball] pitched up and hit his hand. That’s up to the officials to deem. That’s why they get paid and that’s why they are professional officials.
Blame shifted back to squad depth after a second defeat to Manchester United, after which Rodgers was criticised for not starting new £12m signing Daniel Sturridge:
We’re 24 points behind United – but we’re not 24 points behind [in terms of] quality. The points difference is due to the squad. The depth in the squads is the difference for us.
Once we close the gap in the squad over these coming windows, I’ve got great faith we’ll be able to challenge. I’ve seen enough hope in these opening months to suggest we will do that – and today was another example of it.
Now you can play Brendan Rodgers Excuse Bingo and/or Drinking Game at home! Simply make up some rules and get cracking! Good luck!