Liverpool chairman Tom Werner feels that the club made the right decision in choosing to keep manager Brendan Rodgers this summer, despite suffering a difficult season that saw us slip from second to sixth in the league.
A torrid run towards the end of the season, which also included an underwhelming defeat in an FA Cup semi-final, resulted on us missing out on Champions League football and ending the campaign in turmoil – with a 6-1 defeat to Stoke City on the final day of the season summing up the miserable mood around Anfield.
However, Werner and FSG resisted appeals from a handful of supporters to find a replacement for Rodgers, who had just twelve months earlier led us to our best Premier League finish in five years. By finishing second, we also matched our best effort in the top flight since the 1989-90 season.
Many feared the worst for the Northern Irishman when the owners planned an in-depth end of season inquest, which attracted plenty of attention from the national media, such as here in the Daily Express. Coaches Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh were both dismissed as part of the review, but Rodgers survived.
Liverpool’s 39-man academy squad rated out of 10 in terms of potential – Dhanda & Pedro shine
Coutinho raves after seeing Roberto Firmino in Liverpool training
Five great opening Premier League weekend wins for Liverpool
And now, speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Werner has finally shed some light on what led the owners to that decision. He said: “First of all, we take a long-term view on these matters.
“We believed in Brendan when he won Manager of the Year for 2013/14. That was only a year earlier when he was awarded that compliment. I think our track record demonstrates that our approach and attitude is very much focused on stability. We have demonstrated that both on and off the pitch.
“We do believe Brendan is the right man for Liverpool and the right man to take the club forward. When we hired Brendan we wanted to see improvement. Hopefully when we have a conversation in a year’s time he will have demonstrated and the squad will have demonstrated that we’ve regained top form again.”
Werner was the first to admit that he was not impressed by last season’s failings and, while he might not say it, his frustrations suggest that Rodgers could be walking a thin line if we start our new campaign poorly.
“Last season was somewhat disappointing, obviously. We had a goal of reaching the top four having qualified for the Champions League the year before,” Werner said.
“We wanted to see some progress. There were bright spots along the way. There was a period in the season from around the halfway mark when we really did show top form. But the end of the season was disappointing.
“I don’t really want to get into the reasons why we fell short of our goals. What I will say is that the review was no different from the review we do at the end of every season. It was about looking at how we can move forward as a club and be consistently stronger.
“We had some very constructive discussions with Brendan. We learned a lot and we are very much looking forward to the start of the season because we’re a stronger team now than we were a year ago.
“Brendan was very instrumental in the transfer targets that we went after this summer. We expect we’re going to see a strong improvement.”
As for Pascoe and Marsh, Werner admitted that some form of change was inevitable, but he saved most of his answer for the men that have come in to replace them – Sean O’Driscoll, Pepijn Lijnders and former Liverpool favourite Gary McAllister.
“I want to thank Colin and Mike for their services but I’m excited about the new staff that Brendan has brought in,” he added. “As Brendan has already articulated, it was his decision and the resumes of the gentlemen brought in are very impressive.
“I’ve met Sean and Pep. Sean has a lot of coaching experience and was working with England Under-19s. He’s hugely respected for his knowledge. All the feedback we’ve had on Pep during his time at the Academy has been very positive. We had heard a lot about him from his coaching at Porto and he’s taken on a newly created position at the club.
“Gary has a connection with the football club having served as a player. He has also managed Coventry City and Leeds United. The three new members of staff are outstanding and I’m sure the squad will benefit a lot from having them around.”
He also spoke about our opening game of the new season, which takes place tomorrow against Stoke City. He understandably admitted that he was hoping to see an improvement on our last effort at the Britannia Stadium.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on any one game or the need to get off to a good start, but it would certainly help,” Werner said. “It would be marvellous to take three points. Obviously, the end of last season was very disappointing.
“It would be nice if we came away from Stoke with a much better performance this time around. I feel that everyone knows what their responsibilities are. We have set good, but honest expectations.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how we play. I expect us to make our supporters proud.”