The story of Brendan’s time at Liverpool
After sacking ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish at the end of the 2011-12 season, Liverpool owners FSG wanted to bring in a young, bright, confident and tactical manager to fill the legend’s shoes at Anfield.
Having failed to deliver Champions League football and losing to Chelsea in an FA Cup final, FSG wanted a manager who had the tactics and playing style to push the team a step further, and get Liverpool back to competing with Europe’s best.
Enter Brendan Rodgers, who had guided Swansea to promotion to the Premier League in the 2010-11 season and had also had a solid season in charge for their first campaign in the top flight. His playing style was something to admire, and he had built up a good reputation for himself in Wales.
He was the bookie’s favourite to be hired from Day 1, and sure enough, on June 1st 2012, Rodgers was officially confirmed to be manager at Liverpool Football Club. Rodgers said he felt “very blessed” to be manager of “a real special club”, and many fans felt that it was the right move by the owners to bring him in.
3 years later, and after achieving nothing more than a near miss at the title and an FA Cup semi-final, fans are getting impatient and are eagerly awaiting to see if Rodgers is sacked, here are they key aspects to his Liverpool career that could make or break his job.
With the whole summer ahead of him when instated, Rodgers looked to bring in some young, hungry talent to improve his squad for the coming season. He started by bringing in young Italian striker Fabio Borini from Roma for £10.4million, a player that had showed great potential the season before in Serie A. Shortly after this, he signed central-midfielder Joe Allen from his former club Swansea for £15million, a buy that was questioned at the time with such a large price-tag. Other signings included, Oussama Assaidi from Heerenven, Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid on-loan, and Samid Yesil from Bayer Levekusen, but they never really managed to make it into the team. In hindsight, a disappointing debut transfer window for Brendan
Arguably his two best signings came in January 2013, when Daniel Sturridge signed from Chelsea for £15million, and Phillipe Coutinho arrived from Inter Milan for £8million. Sturridge, despite having injury problems during his time at Anfield, has been an overall big success, forming a devastating partnership with Luis Suarez. Coutinho has slowly developed into a special player and a fan’s favourite at Anfield, and is becoming known for his special goals that make a big difference in games.
Other than these players, the majority of Rodgers’ signings have struggled to make a real impact, Simon Mignolet signed from Sunderland in summer 2013, and despite having shaky moments has done relatively well. Adam Lallana signed from Southampton in summer 2014, and has shown promising signs of being great in Liverpool’s midfield. Mamadaou Sakho, also signing in summer 2014, has been a rock at the back for the Reds, yet is still struggling to get a game ahead of flop-signing Dejan Lovren.
Also joining Lovren on the ‘flop’ list are names such as Victor Moses, Iago Aspas, Aly Cissoko, and Lazar Markovic.
If Brendan was being completely judged on signings alone, he probably wouldn’t have made it through the summer.
By far his most successful season in charge of Liverpool, the 2013/14 season was the closest Liverpool have ever gotten to the Premier League title. The Reds recorded massive wins in the campaign such as winning 5-0 away at Spurs, 4-0 at home to Everton, 3-0 away to Manchester United and 5-1 at home to Arsenal, not forgetting the huge 3-2 win over Manchester City that looked to hand them the league title.
Big players played a big part in that exciting season for Liverpool, with the partnership between Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez being a huge factor, and the leadership of captain Steven Gerrard, despite Gerrard’s mistake spoiling the Anfield party in the end at home to Chelsea.
Cups and Europe
In his debut season, Rodgers didn’t fare well in the league or the cup competitions his team was entered in. In the Europa Cup the Reds were knocked out at the round of 32 stage against Zenit St. Petersburg, despite nearly staging a remarkable comeback at Anfield in the second leg. He also saw his side embarressingly beaten away at Oldham in the FA Cup 4th round. Having finished 7th in the league that season, fans weren’t completely convinced on his credentials following his first season in charge.
Having finished 7th in 2013, Rodgers and Liverpool had no European football to look forward to in the 2013/14 season, however that proved a great help as they finished second in the league. The FA Cup was nothing too spectacular, being knocked out by Arsenal in the 5th round, but having come so close to the title, the cup wasn’t so much of a problem for fans.
After their 2nd placed finish, Liverpool had qualified for the Champions League for the first time in over 5 years, and brought in plenty of players to try and improve squad depth. Liverpool were drawn in a group with champions from the previous season, Real Madrid, along with FC Basel and Ludogorets. However, it was an underwhelming campaign and Rodgers’ side only managed one win, and were stuffed 3-0 at home to Real. They dropped into the Europa league again after the group stage, with Real and Basel progressing through to the knockout rounds.
In the same season, Rodgers made it to the semi-finals of both the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup. However, a loss at Wembley to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi really did not sit well with fans, and this was the point many fans started to think that maybe Rodgers was not the man for Liverpool. Liverpool finished 6th in the league in the 2014/15 season, and many questions were starting to be asked after their final day 6-1 away defeat to Stoke.
Handling transfer sagas
In the last 2 years, big players for Liverpool had left following highly publicised transfer sagas. Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and most recently Raheem Sterling have left Anfield for Barcelona, LA Galaxy and Manchester City respectively. Despite his best efforts, Rodgers has never managed to persuade players of this caliber to stay, and that is a key reason as to why Liverpool may have struggled in the last year or so, especially since Suarez left.
The 2015/16 season so far
Rodgers began this season already under a lot of pressure from the fanbase. He signed another army of signings in the summer transfer window, including the likes of James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke. The spending power may have been impressive, but the results so far certainly haven’t. Despite avenging the 6-1 loss away at Stoke by beating them at the Britannia on the opening day of this campaign, fans are becoming more and more impatient. A heavy 3-0 loss at home to West Ham has started to raise real concern, and a 3-1 loss away at Manchester United on Saturday was another big blow. Despite a good performance away Arsenal to earn a 0-0 draw (despite missing a whole catalogue of chances), the only other win Liverpool have recorded this season was a less than convincing 1-0 at home to newly promoted Bournemouth. The pressure is certainly mounting, and the next few games for Rodgers are more important than ever, with Liverpool at home to Norwich on Sunday. Rodgers will be looking for results to improve when captain Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge all return from injury, and Phillipe Coutinho returns from suspension.
5 games into a season is no time to sack a Premier League manager, however, it looks like the loss away at Old Trafford may look to be the beginning of the end for Rodgers. With many fans shouting for Jurgen Klopp to take the helm at Anfield, it’s very possible that Brendan’s time at the club is running out. Rodgers desperately needs a change in fortune, and he will be hoping that the return of his big players can possibly provide that, starting on Sunday.
However, with the way it’s going, I don’t see Rodgers lasting until Christmas, and with FSG reportedly wanting to sell the club too, things could be very different for Reds fans come 2016.
By Ben Kelly – @benkelly_10