Brendan Rodgers has swiped at suggestions from Steven Gerrard in his autobiography that he entered Liverpool’s season-defining contest with Chelsea in 2013/2014 ‘over-confident’.
The game resonates as an agonising day in the recent history of the club, with the defeat to Jose Mourinho’s side consequently squandering the Reds’ Premier League title hopes.
Now-Celtic boss Rodgers would spend just one more full season with the club before being replaced by Jurgen Klopp in October 2015.
The Irishman insists he still would have been sacked even if he had led Liverpool to title glory in 2014.
In an interesting interview with the Times’ Matt Dickinson, he said: “I would still have been sacked for sure. You only need to look at the evidence all around. Not in modern football. Not in new football.”
“No one wants to wait for anything. At the end of that season I signed a four-year deal. I was going to be the one, the person to take the club on. Eighteen months later that’s it.”
“I don’t think I was more or less confident. We’d won 11 on the bounce. You want to go in with confidence.”
“The Chelsea game we played really well but it’s just unfortunate it [the slip, with Demba Ba scoring] happens right before half-time. We could have drawn but they score again at the death. It wasn’t pressure or anything like that. The last 14 games we won 12, drew one, lost one.”
Only Gerrard and his teammates know exactly how Rodgers planned for that game behind the scenes, but he is arguably right to have been assured of his approach on the back of a stunning winning streak.
That said, this was a Chelsea side led by a manager notorious for employing frustratingly effective defensive setups and with the players to threaten on the break.
It was an opposition response Liverpool had rarely come up against that campaign and one that combatted the counter-attacking expertise and genius improvisation that had led the team to within touching distance of the Premier League crown.
Rodgers’ sacking may well have been deemed harsh at the time, but it’s hard to comprehend any sense of wrongdoing when considering the progress since Klopp’s appointment.
The threat of two seasons without Champions League qualification at the time of Rodgers’ departure justified the kind of ruthless decision from the club that their elite rivals were making in search of success.