Fewer than 18 months after Brendan Rodgers guided Liverpool to second place, their joint highest Premier League finish, the Northern-Irishman has been sacked from his post at Anfield.
In his place is Jürgen Klopp. The charismatic German has developed a cult global following during his time at Borussia Dortmund, and has already been welcomed to the Premier League with open arms. But where did it all go wrong for Rodgers?
At one stage during that remarkable 2013-14 campaign, Liverpool sat atop the league, nine points clear of eventual winners Manchester City after 11 successive league victories. In the end, a season that promised so much for the Reds is now cruelly remembered for Steven Gerrard’s slip at home to Chelsea, a moment immortalised in song up and down the country by football fans.
Regardless of Liverpool’s failure that year, Rodgers should be remembered fondly by the Anfield faithful. No manager has produced more exciting or entertaining football on Merseyside than Rodgers since the inception of the Premier League in 1992. When Suarez, Sterling and Sturridge were all firing, Liverpool were the team to watch.
Arguably it is the break-up of that trio that has cost Rodgers his job. It is not unreasonable to suggest that Liverpool have become a selling club. This is something that had already become clear before Rodgers arrived at Anfield, with Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Michael Owen all being sold.
Under Rodgers the theme continued with the sales of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City and Luis Suarez to Barcelona. It is hard to pillory Rodgers for parting ways with Suarez when Barcelona came knocking. However, if you are going to sell your best players every season, albeit for vast profit, an image is created whereby you are seen as a second-rank club. Jamie Carragher declared last week that Liverpool are in danger of ‘becoming a Tottenham’. Forget danger, arguably the Reds are already there.
A football club can no longer exist solely on past glories, which creates a huge problem for a team such as Liverpool. The good news is that, in Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool have acquired a manager well versed in getting a proud football city to its feet once again. Although some consider the Reds to have acted somewhat hastily – Redknapp calling Brendan Rodgers, ‘a victim of modern football’ following his dismissal – they have acted decisively. With Chelsea and José Mourinho not currently seeing eye-to-eye, a feeling has been growing that if the two parted company in the near future, Klopp would have been on the Stamford Bridge radar. By sacking Rodgers, Liverpool put themselves at the front of the queue and ultimately got their man.
Aside from the high profile sales of Sterling and Suarez, the injury to Daniel Sturridge cost Rodgers and Liverpool dearly. With Suarez and Sturridge both absent for large parts of last season Liverpool instantly lost over 50% of the goals that fired them to second the year before. Add to that a transfer committee that sanctioned the signings of over £70m worth of deadwood, including Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren – the less said about that £20m the better – and you have a combination of factors that appear endemic of Liverpool’s demise last season.
It should not be forgotten however that in his time at Anfield, Rodgers displayed characteristics that made him difficult to feel sympathy for. His ego, arrogance and obsession with possession based statistics often made him a target for opposition supporters. It is also fair to say that aside from that wonderful 2013-14 campaign, Rodgers never truly knew his best XI or favoured style of play.
Under Klopp however, Liverpool have a new man with a new approach looking to go in a new direction on Merseyside. He has already won over supporters, and if he can inspire the players to a similar level to his time at Dortmund, the Reds could be on to something special.