Northern Irish Red Conor McKillion on the pride Brendan Rodgers has restored to Liverpool.
Carnlough, Northern Ireland, June 2012 – A small coastal village in Northern Ireland had just robbed the local bookies of the borough of what was reported to be in the hundreds of thousands. Men placing their savings and reportedly mortgages on the talk of the town that its now most famous son was to become the manager of Liverpool FC. Betting had opened at 12/1 so it was understandable from the word of mouth that it was a done deal.
As a Liverpool fan from Northern Ireland, we have not had an awful lot to cheer about historically. George Best and his adeptly named airport and that victory over England in 2005 are about the height of it. Last year though, that finally changed.
After the initial euphoria of the appointment came the first season and the bitter disappointment of coming 7th and missing out on Europe altogether. No-one here doubted Brendan’s ambition or drive but we all knew it would be a long road ahead. After the signings of Sturridge and Coutinho in January 2013 and their good finish to the season we went into 2013/14 hoping to have a crack at the top 4 and that was all we wanted, yearning for a return to those Champions League nights I wondered if it was ever going to come back again.
Summer 2013 didn’t inspire much signings wise but holding onto Suarez made me realise that Rodgers knows what Liverpool is all about and is embracing it every day more and more. Despite his ridiculous bite and ban, Rodgers kept the faith and boy did it do wonders.
I and a few friends watch every game in a local pub, just 14 miles up the road from where Brendan hails, after the defeats to City and Chelsea over Xmas 2013 we thought a top 4 finish would be hard to comeby. January came and went and we were back in the top 4.
Then February 8th 2014, my 25th birthday, came and that was the day that propelled Rodgers as a decent manager to a top class manager, the annihilation of Arsenal was a starting point in the most fun I have ever had as an LFC fan.
Eleven swashbuckling wins later, highs lows, outright attacking destruction and all the heart in the world and it was upon us, the title which was a dream of dreams was now a reality. Non LFC fans (Mancs not included) were flocking to the cause as it looked like for the first time in 24 years and the first time since I was 15 months old that Liverpool Football Club would top the table in the English top flight.
I will never forgetting falling over when Coutinho scored the winner against City and my friend hugging me on the floor. That is the joy football brings to us all but it brought us more pride in the fact that it was all because of our manager, a humble man from a small village up the road, almost delivering the greatest prize in our universe.
We may not have won the title last May but the journey that Rodgers brought us on and the sheer desire he shows everyday to get this club back to the top is an immense source of pride to us all but even more to the place where he comes from. Last year was about Rodgers as much as it was the team and his management tactics and the immense performance of all the players. He is undoubtedly the man to take this club forward.
Like the banner in his home village reads “Brendan Rodgers – The Carefully Chosen One”.
I couldn’t agree more.