Josh Sexton looks at Brendan Rodgers’ biggest downfalls as Liverpool manager, and looks ahead to what is next for the club.
Life After Suarez
Rodgers’ biggest success at Liverpool was without doubt the 2013/14 season, in which Liverpool took their title challenge down to the final day, falling short of Manchester City by two points.
The Reds scored over 100 league goals in one of the most exciting seasons in recent history, in which Liverpool played with the swagger and pace of a team worthy of winning the league.
However, after the departure of talismanic striker Luis Suarez, the Reds began a gradual downfall, ultimately leading to Rodgers’ sacking.
Liverpool chose to focus on squad depth after the sale of Suarez, with a long awaited return to the Champions League lying ahead.
These signings included Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Lazar Markovic, all three of which aren’t currently at the club.
The new look Liverpool side seemed to lack confidence, and were very predictable going forward, a far cry from the swashbuckling style of the previous season.
The loss of Daniel Sturridge through injury was certainly a blow, and it served to expose the frailties in the goal scoring ability of the squad.
The Redmen managed just 52 goals, while their on-going defensive problems remained conceding 48, finishing in a disappointing sixth place.
Rodgers had lost his two main goalscorers and the team had lost confidence, and the attacking philosophy he came to the club with went out the window.
There was no counter attacking football, no high pressing and no quick passing moves, and Liverpool’s over reliance on individuals became glaringly obvious.
Raheem Sterling almost ran himself into the ground prior to the Christmas period trying to single-handedly create chances to drag Liverpool through their patchy form, to the point he was given a short winter break to ensure he didn’t burn out.
This led to Sterling wanting to move on to better things, coupled with Liverpool’s inability to deal with their most important players’ contracts.
This summer Rodgers appeared to have learnt from his mistakes, and shifted the deadwood, choosing once again to focus on squad depth, although fans were more optimistic about the signings.
However, Liverpool’s fortunes didn’t change and despite a few sketchy wins to start the season the cracks began to show again.
Despite adding the work rate of James Milner, the pace of Nathaniel Clyne, the goal scoring ability of Christian Benteke and the flair of Roberto Firmino, the Reds still looked predictable and lacked tempo.
Results got worse and Rodgers future was already decided prior to the Merseyside derby.
The Northern Irishman can’t complain about the funds he was given during his time at the club, and if there was one area that didn’t lack investment it was the defence.
With around £70m invested to shore up the defence it’s fair to assume that the problems should’ve stopped, however things seemed to have got worse over three years, with Emre Can playing out of position in a desperate attempt to plug the leaky defence.
Dejan Lovren was the most expensive purchase and proved to be an expensive flop, as the Croat has failed to settle and looked increasingly clumsy alongside the ever-present Martin Skrtel.
Although Skrtel shouldn’t avoid criticism, Rodgers always wanted the defenders to play out from the back, which didn’t suit the no-nonsense style of the Slovakian international, and this led to some big errors.
Daniel Agger, who was pushed out the club by the manager, appeared to be more suited to the roll of the ball playing defender, though he did have his problems with injury.
The cracks were papered over when Liverpool first switched to a three at the back formation, which used wingbacks for extra protection.
This saw the Redmen go through a rich vein of form in the second half of last season, however by the end of the season Liverpool had suffered heavy defeats at the hands of Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Stoke.
Fans were left perplexed by the manager’s decision to bench the popular Mamadou Sakho in place of the wholly unpopular Lovren, and although this has since changed, it wasn’t enough for Rodgers to save his job.
Poor Man Management
The former Swansea City boss was often criticised by ex players for the way in which he treated them, in terms of pushing players out of the club.
Former fan favourite Daniel Agger claimed that he felt unappreciated under Rodgers, and felt as though there was nothing he could do to stay in the team.
Flop Andy Carroll claimed that the manager would say one thing to his face and then another over the phone, leaving the current West Ham striker to not know where he stood at the club.
Nuri Sahin said he had no regrets about moving to Liverpool but thanked god that he left Rodgers who he claimed could not answer him when he asked why he was being played out of position.
It seemed as though the Northern Irishman was stubborn about his choices, and had a clear idea of who he wanted in his team.
It’s only fair that a new manager has this idea when he joins a club, however the way in which Rodgers went about this was completely wrong, and many of the departures during his time have left a very sour taste.
Ultimately, Brendan was on borrowed time at Anfield, though it seemed FSG would stick with him after giving him funds to strengthen this summer and allowed him to appoint his own backroom staff.
However, with the money spent during his three-and-a-quarter year tenure, and the distinct lack of silverware, the manager’s position had become untenable.
Though it is worth mentioning Rodgers gave fans hope during the 2013/14 season, and came as close as any to claiming a first league title for the club.
Now it is time for a new man to step up to the task, hopefully the new manager can get the best out of the current squad.