When Brendan Rodgers was appointed Liverpool manager in 2012, I was underwhelmed to say the least. For the same reason people are now joking that the likes of Garry Monk and Eddie Howe are high on our wish list; it seemed all we did was go for a promising young manager on the back of a couple of good seasons with a smaller team. But every year brings its own equivalent of that, such as Phil Brown, Owen Coyle, and Paul Lambert, who were all at one point hailed as the next big British manager. It just seemed to pan out that Rodgers was the lucky man in the spotlight when we were manager hunting.
But after a few months of settling in and a couple of shrewd acquisitions in his first January transfer window, I thought we actually were seeing Liverpool stamped with the identity that Rodgers claimed he would bring. We ended the 2012/13 season well, and that gave hope that we would only continue to improve as Brendan instilled his vision further and further. Then 2013/14 happened, and our rate of improvement stunned even the most optimistic of supporters. Rodgers had taken just a year to turn us around, put his system and ideas in place, bring in players for the present and future, and seemingly set us up for a very exciting few years under his tenure.
Unfortunately, as we know, that was a false dawn. There were extraneous factors, but in my view Brendan Rodgers got incredibly complacent and overconfident, and thought that he had everything under control while it was in fact crumbling beneath him. The players he signed when we had bags of money from the Suarez sale, and Champions League football to offer, were not good enough and a wasted opportunity to be more ambitious and bring in players of a higher calibre. The way he managed the players at his disposal throughout 2014/15 was shambolic. And then, with the chance to amend everything this summer after narrowly escaping the sack, he once again left glaring holes in his squad, and brought in an assistant manager who hadn’t a single bit of experience in a top flight league.
So as inevitable as it was yesterday when the axe finally dropped, I couldn’t help but feel saddened. We’d been promised the world, put over three years into this relatively unknown manager who we’d been told would be our saviour, sang his name, backed him as well as we could, and then it was like FSG just shrugged their shoulders and said ‘oops, I guess we misjudged that one.’ His sacking has been followed by links to top managers like Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp, but once again that means we are back to a ‘rebuilding’ and ‘transition’ phase. Which, if you’re going to be in, is best done with a manager like one of those two at the helm, but it does feel like three years have just been wasted by FSG conducting a little project they fancied trying with our great club.
Well game time is over, and our owners seriously need to buck their ideas up. Bringing in Klopp or Ancelotti would be a start, but it’s no good if FSG are then going to tell them how they should be doing their job, or persist with this transfer committee to tell them which players they should be signing. To get in a top quality manager in the state we’re in would be a massive coup for us, and FSG should just be prepared to shut up and listen to whatever demands they make, and whatever methods they want to implement. Methods that, let’s not forget, led to them being such great managers in the first place. FSG need to stop putting hurdles in the way of the club, stop trying revolutionise football with wacky philosophies, and simply listen to someone who has been there, done it, and got the t-shirt. Or got the bright yellow cap, at least.
I wanted Rodgers gone in the summer, and it was clear he was on borrowed time this season. But I hold no grudge against the man himself, and wish him all the best for the future. He always spoke respectfully of the club and supporters, and I was never ashamed to have him represent our club. I think, in time, he’ll look back on his time here and have regrets about certain decisions he made and the mistakes they led to. But from the outside, it’s easy for us to judge, and I’m confident that all he ever did was with the team’s best interests at heart. He gave us one great season and took us nearer to the Premier League title than we’ve ever been. If he ever comes back to Anfield in the opposing dugout, he can expect a round of applause from me, and I’d expect everyone else in the stadium would do so too. We aren’t a petty bunch of supporters, and it would be classless to hold a grudge against someone just for lacking the quality required at a club where the standard is so high. Rodgers gave it his best shot and deserves due credit for that. Let’s just hope that his successor can take us that step further.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)