“For Rodgers, this is rock bottom” — How the papers reacted to Stoke City 6-1 Liverpool

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The morning after Liverpool’s abject performance at Stoke City, we round-up the best newspaper reaction from a miserable day at the Britannia Stadium.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 24, 2015: Liverpool's substitute Raheem Sterling cannot look at the supporters as he walks off at half-time 5-0 down to lowly Stoke City during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was meant to be a day celebrating the stunning Liverpool career of Steven Gerrard, but ended with Brendan Rodgers’ future as manager in very serious doubt.

Gerrard’s final game for his boyhood club was the Reds’ heaviest defeat ever in the Premier League, with the 6-1 scoreline reverberating around the footballing world.

The first-half performance was so bad it’s hard to put into words, and the sheer lack of fight, leadership and quality did not reflect well on Rodgers.

It was an appalling end to a very disappointing season, and you can’t help but feel that FSG must act and put the 42-year-old out of his misery now. He has taken the team as far as he can.

The matching media were equally stunned by what went on at the Britannia on Sunday, with the vast majority of the focus understandably on Rodgers:

Chris Bascombe (Daily Telegraph)-

Liverpool have spent much the last 12 months saying goodbye. Goodbye to Luis Suarez; goodbye to Steven Gerrard; goodbye to the Champions League; goodbye to the scintillating football of last season; goodbye to any sense of trust those in charge of football operations know what they’re doing.

They are probably going to say goodbye to Raheem Sterling during the summer, and although Rodgers suggested before the trip to Stoke he was “150 per cent” sure he would not be joining the list of farewells, few are able to fight his corner after this humiliating and shameful afternoon in Staffordshire.

At the Britannia Stadium Liverpool said goodbye to their pride. Mark Hughes’ side scored at will, exposing a team and club that has been sleepwalking through the season. Disgust and disbelief was the response of the fans in the away end.

Neil Jones (Liverpool Echo)-

At the end of a miserable campaign, the Reds saved their worst until last, conceding five times without reply in the first half at the Britannia Stadium. Steven Gerrard, on his last appearance before moving to LA Galaxy, pulled a goal back after the break, but his side conceded a sixth late on, ensuring their worst defeat in any competition since April 1963.

For Rodgers, this is rock bottom. The manager was jeered by a section of his own supporters as he left the field at half time, and will now face an uncomfortable few days, as he prepares for his end-of-season review with the club’s American owners. He will have a job on his hands to explain this performance away.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 24, 2015: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Stoke City score the fifth goal in the first half during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Dominic King (Daily Mail)-

When crunch time comes, Fenway Sports Group will only need the answer to one question: can they trust him?

As this abomination of a season came to a spectacularly dreadful end in The Potteries, with invective and fury raining down from enraged supporters, Brendan Rodgers wore the look of a man who knew his future employment prospects were dangling by a thread.

Rodgers will hold a summit with Mike Gordon, FSG’s second largest investor, soon but the ground he now walks on is anything but safe. Liverpool were not just beaten by Stoke City, they were utterly humiliated and the buck stops with the man who stood passively, helplessly in the technical area.

Some defeats can be explained but this?

Jim Boardman (The Mirror)-

Before kick-off I remember thinking that whatever happened in this game it wouldn’t be proof on its own of what should happen to Brendan Rodgers. Before we’d even got to half-time it was difficult to think of it as anything else. Rodgers should have stayed in the dressing room at the break before making his own way back to Melwood to start emptying his desk.

If Rodgers has an ounce of honour in his body he’ll resign this evening and allow this club to move forward. If he stays Liverpool are in danger of drifting further away from the level most Reds don’t just want their club to get to but expect them to be at.

Rodgers said recently that fifth place would be par. It shouldn’t be, but he couldn’t even manage that.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 24, 2015: Stoke City's Jonathan Walters scores the third goal against Liverpool during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

David Hytner (The Guardian)-

This was no way for Steven Gerrard to say goodbye, even though he marked his 710th and final appearance in a Liverpool shirt with his 186th goal for the club and, long before the end, the question of whether it might be time for another farewell had elbowed its way to the top of the agenda.

[…]

Liverpool were 5-0 down at half-time, utterly humiliated at the hands of a rampaging Stoke City, and, to put it bluntly, these are the sort of performances that see clubs and managers part company. It set the seal on a miserable end to the season for Rodgers and Liverpool, one in which the team lost six of 11 matches in all competitions and finished with 52 Premier League goals. They got 101 last season.

ESPN‘s Dave Usher felt Gerrard was let down hugely on his big day, but did at least have some positive things to say about Jordon Ibe’s second-half cameo-

The skipper was a virtual passenger in the first half as Liverpool’s “no striker” formation looked to have confused everybody. Gerrard was playing at the point of the diamond with no central striker ahead of him. In the second half he was the one playing through the middle where gave a good account of himself, even managing a nicely taken consolation goal.

How his teammates approached his final couple of games was nothing short of a disgrace, and privately Gerrard may well be feeling a sense of relief that he’s getting out now before things get any worse.

[…]

He (Ibe) was comfortably Liverpool’s best player in the time he was on the field, beating his full-back with ease time and again. Usually failed to pick out teammates when he got to the byline, an area where he has room to improve, but he’s one of the few things Liverpool have to feel encouraged about right now.

Let us know your thoughts on the game in the comments below.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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