When Brendan Rodgers was unveiled as the new Liverpool manager on June 1, 2012, I have to admit I had mixed feelings about his appointment. As somebody who was thrilled to see Kenny Dalglish back at the club and perhaps being a bit naive, I thought Dalglish had earnt himself another season, especially after winning a cup, and so I was perhaps unwilling to accept a somewhat unproven Northern Irishman into the fold.
Brendan Rodgers had of course been at the helm of Swansea prior to coming to Anfield, but as somebody who only has eyes for her club, I didn’t know the details of his spending, his preferred tactical set up and his managerial style. It was all new to me and so I tried my best to remain open-minded.
In Rodgers’ first season, he removed some of the doubts I had by making an improvement on Kenny Dalglish’s league performance, however the Reds were still lounging in 7th and he’d been granted his “transitional season”. I expected better the following season, what I didn’t expect however was for him to provide the most exciting season of my life as a Liverpool fan.
Removing the 2005 Champions League final from the repertoire, the 2013/2014 season was simply phenomenal and probably the most enjoyable time I’ve had as a fan of the Reds. If Steven Gerrard had remained upright against Chelsea, maybe, just maybe we would have clinched our first title in 24 years. The atmosphere around the club and between the fans was just euphoric, everyone was united, nobody was complaining and we had the magical Luis Suarez leading the line with the immense Daniel Sturridge.
Liverpool scored 101 league goals that season, the highest amount scored by a runner-up in the Premier League and the highest amount scored by the Reds in the Premier League ever. Luis Suarez collected 31 goals and Gerrard collected the most assists; 13. Whilst Brendan Rodgers was clearly helped massively by his strike-force, I cannot take away his efforts during this season.
It was a season where his team gelled, his tactics pretty much wrote themselves without too much thought required, and his line-up remained relatively steady. With the pressure off, Rodgers thrived and as the pressure began to rise again with the side looking like they may actually go on to obtain that elusive league title, I thought the way he held himself was admirable, he almost got there but it just wasn’t to be.
Unfortunately for Brendan, this is where the praise ends from me. Blinded by (and who wouldn’t have been?!) a simply stupendous season, I quickly began to realise why I was so reluctant to welcome him to the club in the first place. As we lost the likes of Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger and even Pepe Reina in 2014, Rodgers began to stamp his mark on the team signing players like Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic, spending a lot of money in the process. His choices in the transfer window were more than questionable in my opinion and things became worse when he lost Daniel Sturridge. His star striker, holding the beacon after Suarez had left for Barcelona, suffered multiple injuries and his disappearance honestly played a bigger role in the downfall of Brendan Rodgers than some will have you believe.
The Northern Irishman appeared to pick up this fear of playing 4-4-2 unless Daniel Sturridge was involved, he became stubborn, which seemed bizarre to me considering he’d done so well in the season before playing two up top. As he continued to favour more elaborate set ups, he began to experiment with his new signings who still hadn’t settled in. Back threes, wing-backs, players out of position, strikers completely unsupported, it just became more and more frustrating.
For some, these experiments were fully justified, after all Rodgers had taken us to closer to a league title than any other manager in recent history but for me, during this period, he lost his style and his confidence and I struggled to back him which is never a nice feeling. The 2014-2015 league season saw us finish in 6th, not forgetting the fact that we crashed out of the Champions League after fighting so hard to return to the competition.
The writing was on the wall for the manager and a horrible summer ensued with social media going into oblivion with some wanting Rodgers gone and those adamant he deserved a second chance. I, on the other hand, found myself in a strange state of ambivalence. I didn’t particularly want Rodgers to stay because I’d been so frustrated with his team selections throughout the season and it was becoming a chore watching the Reds as opposed to a privilege, but I didn’t want him to go because perhaps my memory was too short, surely he’d earnt himself some more time after finishing second the year before?
And so, Rodgers remained at the helm, this time Gerrard had gone, Sterling had gone, he’d sent Balotelli on loan without having really played him, he’d nearly, according to the media, caused Lucas and Martin Skrtel to reassess their situation at Liverpool and the team just didn’t look prepared. Again, some of his signings were unproven and he continued to play them out of position.
The opening fixture against Stoke was saved only thanks to a moment of magic from Philippe Coutinho. An offside goal from Christian Benteke ensured Rodgers collected all three points against newly-promoted Bournemouth and a hard fought 0-0 draw against Arsenal made it look like things were going well. When you sat back and analysed the performances though, the results didn’t truly portray what was happening and things came unstuck as Liverpool lost to West Ham and Manchester United. The pressure began to mount and, eventually, one hour after the draw in the Merseyside derby, Brendan Rodgers was sacked.
Liverpool are presently in 10th and arguably still in a decent position points wise, but after poor results in the Europa League and no real sign of things improving, I think it was the right time to part company with a manager who was perhaps lucky to remain in charge after last summer.
He leaves having spent £291,550,000. To put that into perspective, that’s £60,399,000 more than Rafael Benitez spent in half the time. His purchases were overall not good enough in my opinion and when he did bring in players I liked he played them incorrectly and failed to support them. His managerial style became stubborn, almost as though he wanted to prove he was right when really, if he’d have been big enough to make some minor changes, he may just have kept himself in the job.
Rodgers notched up 1.77 points per game as Liverpool manager over 166 matches – he won 85 games, drew 39 and lost 42, with 65 players used during his tenure. Wherever he ends up in the future I wish him all the best, he’s definitely a good manager, he just wasn’t good enough for Liverpool Football Club.