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Evolution of the revolution

Going into this weekend's games, Liverpool were 10th in the Barclays Premier League at the midway point of the season, with nine points less than last year under Kenny Dalglish and four places lower in the table.

Brendan Rodgers is making headway at Anfield Photograph: PA
Brendan Rodgers is making headway at Anfield Photograph: PA

Halfway through the 2010-11 season, just before Roy Hodgson was sacked, he too had accumulated 25 points, the same as Brendan Rodgers ahead of today's trip to West London to face relegation- threatened Queens Park Rangers.

If you go back through from the turn of the millennium, you'll find that the lowest points total Rafa Benitez had at this stage in the campaign was 30 and predecessor Gerard Houllier 29.

And yet there is no suggestion on Merseyside that Rodgers should be fearing for his job. Today's match is just another away game on the road to the "big project" of seeing Rodgers' vision realised.

Part of the reason why Rodgers feels so secure has to do with the owners. Having dispatched a legend in Dalglish back in May and ditched their director of football model shortly before that, they've put all their eggs in the Rodgers basket, giving him the total control he craved. Doing a 180-degree turn now – or even at the end of the season – would bring with it accusations of being trigger happy and failing to provide the stability football clubs supposedly require. You can see the point. If Rodgers were to go, the man who replaced him would become the Anfield club's fifth manager in just over three years, which borders on the Abramovich-like.

But that's only part of it. The fact is that Liverpool actually play well. And, in a world where people repeat – parrot-like – that it's "all about results" it isn't really. At least not to Liverpool's owners, who value things such as progress and are not averse to using stats and metrics to show the Rodgers Revolution is working.

Nobody in the Premier League has had more shots on goal. Liverpool are also sixth for shots on target and second in terms of times they've hit the woodwork. They rank second in successful dribbles and are fourth in possession percentage, just 1.2% behind league-leading Arsenal.

Their defensive numbers are also pretty good. Only four teams have conceded fewer shots and they rank fourth in terms of tackles, which is especially impressive when you consider that the sides ahead of them in that area – Southampton, Sunderland and QPR – are all low-possession teams, meaning they have more opportunities to make tackles.

What all this suggests is that Liverpool's results don't fully reflect their performances. Which is what Rodgers has argued all year. Some of that is down to bad luck. Some of it can be attributed to too many square pegs in round holes and the fact the summer signings have contributed little. Fabio Borini and Oussama Assaidi have been injured and, even when fit, haven't had much of an impact. Nuri Sahin has been lacklustre and only Joe Allen has been a bona fide starter.

So Rodgers has tried to make it work with Dalglish's crew, dusting off the likes of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Jonjo Shelvey, all of whom ranked somewhere between the peripheral and the on-their-way-out-in-the-summer, or pushing teenagers such as Raheem Sterling and Suso into the starting line-up. He has tweaked personnel where possible but, fundamentally, stuck with the same system and his philosophy.

In terms of long-term development, it's probably the right thing to do. In the short-term, Liverpool have paid a price. Rodgers' system tends to generate goalscoring opportunities for the centre-forward and for a midfielder running from the middle of the park.

That's how Danny Graham – nice player, but not exactly Marco van Basten – ended up scoring 12 times for Swansea last year. Or why Gylfi Sigurdsson had seven in half a season. Luis Suarez is scoring freely up front, but there is no natural attacking midfielder now that Steven Gerrard tends to play deeper. Shelvey, who has deputised in that role, has yet to find the back of the net. What's more, last season more than a third of Swansea's Premier League goals – 16 of 44 – were scored by wingers, led by Scott Sinclair (eight) and Nathan Dyer (five). Liverpool's wingers have scored three of the club's 28 goals this term. And even that figure is somewhat misleading because two of those three were scored by Joe Cole and Downing, who weren't even supposed to be at the club and who are unlikely to see much playing time going forward.

Rodgers has indicated he expects some signings next month, which makes sense after the summer fiasco. What will be critical is that he picks guys who can fit what he's trying to do (in that sense, the link to Daniel Sturridge is a head scratcher). He is extremely fortunate to be in the position he is: racking up some of the worst results in the club's history while being given the time to implement his (very) long-term project. At least he's showing forward progress, which – for now – is enough for the owners.

Conventional wisdom suggests that if you get away with something it's probably good not to speak of it ever again. Sir Alex Ferguson got away with a lot on Boxing Day, not so much in his initial reaction to the fact that Jonny Evans' own goal in Manchester United's game against Newcastle was allowed to stand, but more so when he kept harassing the fourth official and the assistant referee after half-time. He wasn't charged: referee Mike Dean didn't think it was worth mentioning in his report and that was that.

Or, at least, it should have been. But, no, Ferguson had to go back and take a pop at Alan Pardew, reminding the Newcastle manager that he too gets excited on the sidelines and that – ominously – he was "forgetting the help" Sir Alex "gave him". As if that wasn't enough, he also referred to Newcastle as a "wee club in the north east".

Coming on the back of last week and Ashley Williams' "attempted murder" of Robin van Persie, you'd think he may want to exercise some restraint. Especially when things are going well for him and his club.

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