12 Sept 2015

Rodgers confirms: 'Quality' £6m Liverpool attacker will start against Man-Utd today 'if I feel he can help the team'

Last week, Liverpool legend John Aldridge called for 'terrific' £6m^ summer signing Danny Ings to to start today's game against Manchester United, and it looks like Brendan Rodgers is actively considering pairing the ex-Burnley man with Christian Benteke.

In his column for the Liverpool Echo, Aldo explained:

"[Ings] is the perfect man to play alongside Benteke against United. With Coutinho suspended, there's a space that needs filling, and Ings should be the one to come in the replace him".

In his pre-Manchester United press conference, Rodgers hailed Ings as a 'bright spark', and hinted that he might play him today at Old Trafford:

“I’d have no qualms about putting Danny in. He works hard, he presses really well and he has that quality in front of goal, so I’d have no hesitation about putting him in if I feel he could help the team.”

This makes a lot of sense, and it's the obvious way to proceed, which is why it probably won't happen.

I have no doubt that, if fit, Rodgers will play Lallana ahead of Ings, and he'll probably persist with the failed strategy of playing Benteke up-front on his own.

Rodgers did this all last season with Balotelli, and Lambert, and he's too stubborn to change things now, especially with his overt favouritism towards underwhelming players like Lallana.

On a related note: I recently argued that Rodgers has an unhealthy obsession with 'pressing' (to the extent that it is damaging the Reds' attacking effectiveness), and his comments about Ings underline that view. Just look at his comments once again:

"He [Ings] works hard, he presses really well and he has that quality in front of goal".

Rodgers mentions working hard and pressing *first*, ahead of Ings' ability to score goals, which (IMO) shows that he prioritises defensive work over attacking impact.

Rodgers' recent assessment of Firmino displayed the same disappointing preference:

"I've been impressed with his [Firmino's] quality, but it's his ability to work and press the game is one of the key things for us when we were bringing him in. He really understands the pressure and the intensity".

These comments are intensely disheartening, and in my view, Rodgers' obsession with the 'high press' is one of the reasons so many attacking players fail at Anfield.

I'm sick of this obsession with 'pressing'. An attacking player's primary role is to score and create goals, so let the midfielders and defenders do all the extra running and donkey work.

That doesn't mean dedicated attackers relinquish responsibility for tracking back/pressing, but they should be allowed to express themselves without having to constantly worry about pressing/tackling etc.

Rodgers demands Coutinho, Ings et al to continuously track back, tackle, defend etc, and run themselves into the ground 'pressing' the play, but what's the point if these player are then too knackered to fulfill their main roles?

Strikers, in particular, should be left to concentrate on hurting the opposition, and that should be prioritised above everything else.

Alas, that won't happen under Rodgers, whose counter-productive obsession with pressing/defensive duty is ultimately damaging Liverpool's ability to compete at the highest level.

As such, if Ings starts today, I don't expect him to score, or even create anything as he'll be too busy running himself into the ground.

Author: Jaimie K


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