Where did it go wrong for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool?

Brendan Rodgers has been sacked as manager of Liverpool Football Club.

The announcement was made just hours after Liverpool’s 1-1 against Everton at Goodison Park. The decision had been made prior to Sunday’s Merseyside derby, meaning Rodgers would have still been shown the door even if his side were to win.

While few would have anticipated the timing of the news, it has very much been a matter of when the club owners would act on the side’s poor start to the season. For many, the sacking of Rodgers has been an inevitability for some weeks now.

The pressure has been mounting on the Irishman since before the new Premier League campaign got underway, having been given an opportunity to improve on his failures last season when the Fenway Sports Group opted to stick with him as manager over the summer.

Where did it all go wrong for him?

In simple terms, there hasn’t been enough progression at the club since the remarkable 2013/2014 season, in which Rodgers and his team just fell short of winning the Premier League title.

One has to look no further than his widely criticised transfer policy to see where things started to go wrong. While the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona was greeted with disappointment, there remained an optimism that the club were heading in a positive direction after their outstanding yet gutting second place finish in the league. Rodgers had the freedom to reinvest the £75million from the Suarez transfer into bringing world class players and proven star quality to the club. In the eyes of the fans, he had to achieve this and was in the best possible position to do so having secured the lucrative Champions League football that the world’s best players crave so badly. The failure to lure Alexis Sanchez to Anfield as part of the Suarez to Barcelona deal represents how weak both he and the club were in the transfer market. Ultimately, many expected him to do more to keep Luis Suarez at the club, even despite his controversies.

There has been an unyielding concern surrounding how much control Rodgers actually had over particular signings during his time as manager. Whether it be the signing of Mario Balotelli or the arrival of Rickie Lambert, it became very clear that there was a severe disconnection between the transfer committee and Rodgers himself, which opens the door for a little sympathy for the former Swansea boss. Besides this, the lengthy absence of Daniel Sturridge certainly damaged his chances of success.

Having said this, the matter of fact is that, Brendan Rodgers signings of not, the majority of players brought in have not been successful nor to the standard of replacing the likes of Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher or Raheem Sterling- who have all left during the Rodgers era. As manager, he hasn’t found a system or the players that benefit the club in the long term.

Aside from the incomings and outgoings, it is the little things that have contributed to his eventual downfall. Between 2013 and 2014, each Brendan Rodgers pre match and post-match conference would be worth listening to as he so often promised to give a tactical insight into his game preparations and his review of performances. His in depth planning for each game became very apparent to the media and football fans, which made him so admirable at the time. This has disappeared over the past year.

Liverpool’s mighty title challenge depicted him as the exciting young manager everyone expected him to be and the man who could help the club return to its glory days. His no fear attitude was a significant factor to him earning his plaudits as he continued to put his faith in the youth of Jon Flanagan while setting his team up to play high intensity football, which resulted in them beating many teams within the first twenty minutes- as Arsenal fans will remember. The alternation between using Joe Allen in a midfield three and including Philippe Coutinho emerged as a very subtle but effective tactical move, reinforcing his tendency to plan differently for each game.

Over the past couple of seasons, the term ‘character’ has become a common inclusion in his pre and post-match interviews, moving away from the tactical insight all Liverpool fans wish to hear from their manager. For a manager who speaks so much about character, there has been an ironic lack of character throughout this Liverpool side under Rodgers. His insistence on reverting to a defensive three with wing backs in response to poor form became a favourite method of his over the past few seasons. Initially, it came across to many as genius as the side went on an unbeaten run, however it has never looked to be a system that he has wished to use in the long term, forcing the question as to what his plans actually have been.

Defensive instability has forced him into altering his formation so regularly, which again stems from poor recruitment. At the other end of the pitch, the severe lack of fire power has not been responded to quickly enough and has coincided with the side’s defensive frailties in presenting Rodgers as a man without an idea as to what his best system is. His refusal to play two upfront has resulted in a lack of goals as well as unrest amongst fans who have continued to call for the use of a striking pair.

The loss of support for Brendan Rodgers and his methods from Liverpool fans has been significant. Anfield’s atmosphere is far from what both Liverpool fans and neutrals expect it to be; the Kop has never been so quiet nor has the entire stadium sounded so defeated. Rodgers, himself, has looked a different man on the sideline from the energetic coach fans saw a few years ago. His recent reaction to a Liverpool goal strikes most as a sigh of relief. As much as he has brushed off the threat of the sack, he has looked a nervy and stressed man over the past few weeks. The team’s most recent struggles against League 2 Carlisle in the Capital One Cup and against Bordeaux and FC Sion in the Europa League seem to have finally brought an end to Brendan Rodgers’ time in charge.

Who will take over?

Anfield must be turned into a fortress again and Jurgen Klopp could well be the man to make that happen. He knows the importance of giving the fans something to roar about, having experienced the amazing support for Borussia Dortmund during his time as manager in Germany. His enthusiasm and personality could be exactly what Liverpool need to help them rise as one of England’s best again. Every player looks like they need to be reminded of what it is to be a winner. Klopp promises to inject energy, passion and hunger into any team he works with. While Carlo Ancelotti remains to be a candidate for the job, Klopp is clearly the front runner and it is hard to look past him becoming part of such a prestigious club like Liverpool.

Credit where credit is due…

The past year has certainly been a struggle for Brendan Rodgers, but Liverpool fan must not forget what he achieved. Though it was short lived, he did, in fact, transform Anfield back into the fortress it once was. No one can deny that he had Liverpool playing the best football in the Premier League across 2013 and 2014 and that is something he must be commended for. Fans can look towards the negatives, but it might be worth remembering the good times: the 3-2 victory against Manchester City, the 5-1 win against Arsenal, the 4-0 demolition of Everton. His transfer policy will talked about as a main failure however he did excel in bringing both Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho to the club, for considerably small fees.

It is hard to see him staying out of management for long and it will be interesting to see who he returns with.

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