By: Steven Hawkins
It can't be described as the start Brendan Rodgers was hoping for as Liverpool's new manager. The club is winless in its first four matches (two draws and two losses) for the first time since 1911.
Rodgers, 39, was brought in from Swansea City to replace legendary Liverpool player and former manager Kenny Dalglish. Managing at Anfield is always going to equate to added pressure. Replacing the likes of “King Kenny”, as Dalglish is known to supporters, makes Rodgers life all the more difficult.
Dalglish had returned to Anfield and rescued Liverpool amidst the miserable 2010-2011 season. During that season Roy Hodgson (now England's manager) was struggling to adjust to life at Anfield. Halfway through the season ownership practically begged Dalglish to replace Hodgson; he agreed ensuring Liverpool's third manager in less than a year.
Dalglish's side, while struggling in the Premier League, did perform well in Cup competitions winning the Carling Cup as well as reaching the F.A. Cup Final in 2011-2012. There appeared to be hope for the future so Dalglish's firing came as surprise to many and ensured that Liverpool would have its fourth manager since 2010.
The team has struggled at times to adjust to Rodgers' style of play (one which favours possession and quick passes). Compounding the problem was the struggle to add new players to his club before the transfer window closed. As a result current players (such as Captain Steven Gerrard) are being asked to take on new roles and adjust on the fly. The most glaring error to date was failing to sign a serious attacking threat after loaning Andy Carroll out to West Ham. Fabio Borini, a young Italian whom Rodgers has managed before, was brought in prior to Carroll's exit but has failed to impress alongside forward Luis Suarez.
Things aren't getting any easier for Rodgers and his club as this weekend Liverpool welcomes their arch-nemesis Manchester United to Anfield. United has not won a match in Liverpool since 2007, a trend Rodgers certainly would like to see continue. Defeating Manchester United would be a great distraction from the poor start and alleviate some of the growing pressure on Rodgers. A defeat would be equally disastrous for the club.
Adding to the pressure of the already enormous early season match is the fact it was recently announced Kenny Dalglish will be in attendance.
Even though the pressure is rising it is not a must win for Brendan Rodgers' job security. Ownership has acknowledged Rodgers will be given ample time to implement his vision and strategy in an effort to succeed with Liverpool. It may however be a must win for Rodgers' popularity with supporters and it would serve him well if his first win could come at the expense of Liverpool's most hated rivals.