Liverpool FC in the 2010s: From Hodgson misery to Klopp’s revolution & the European Cup

The dawn of a new decade means it is time to look back and reflect, and the 2010s have been nothing short of eventful for Liverpool FC.

From heralding the turn of the new decade in 2010 all the way through to current day, Liverpool Football Club has not been short of drama, heartbreak and triumph.

Countless players have walked in and out of the doors at Anfield, while a plethora of managers have also taken the reins to contrasting success.

With 2020 fast approaching it is time to reflect on the Reds’ last decade, for both good and bad.


Dissaray On & Off the Field

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2010: Liverpool's supporters on the Spion Kop stage a protest against the club's American owners Tom Hicks and George N. Gillett Jr. after the Premiership match against Sunderland at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The rise of the new year in 2010 would ultimately signal the start of the end for Rafa Benitez’s time at the helm, while wishes were not immediately granted as Tom Hicks and George Gillett remained as owners.

The Reds were languishing in seventh position in the table, which would be their final standing come the end of the campaign, but more alarmingly off the field, Liverpool were in disarray with the American duo well on the way to sending the club into financial ruin.

‘Built by Shanks, Broke by Yanks’ was etched onto a banner on the Kop at the time and it couldn’t have been more apt.

But within the space of a four month period starting from Benitez’s departure by ‘mutual consent’ at the start of June, there was another protest against the owners on July 4 and by mid-October, a new set of Americans were at the helm.

Hicks and Gillett were on the curb, but not before the appointment of Roy Hodgson was given the green light and the former had attempted to refinance the club’s £237m debt in a last-ditch attempt to retain control.

But on October 15 2010, New England Sports Venture, now known as Fenway Sports Group, completed their takeover and eliminated all of the club’s acquisition debt.

STOKE, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 13, 2010: Liverpool's manager Roy Hodgson during the Premiership match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But while off-field matters were starting to be directed back on course, on the field the Reds were progressively crumbling as it became abundantly clear that Hodgson was out of his depth.

A humiliating defeat to League Two side Northampton Town in the League Cup coincided with collecting a measly six points in the opening eight games of the 2010/11 Premier League season.

A period of time encapsulated by the Englishman suggesting Liverpool were not too big for a relegation battle.

He would take charge of his last game at Anfield on January 1 2011, with the clash against Bolton witnessed by just 35,000 as by January 8 2011, Hodgson was given his marching orders with the Reds sat in ninth place.

It was a sixth month stint that sends an unwelcome shiver down one’s spine when forced to dredge up the memory.


The Return of the King

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2009: Liverpool's Fernando Torres in action against Burnley during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The owners pulled the plug on Hodgson following the obvious disillusionment by fans and then turned to a legendary figure in Kenny Dalglish to steer the ship back on course.

The Scot was ushered in on January 8 2011, as a caretaker manager until the end of the season and oversaw a successful uprise in form which took Liverpool from the bottom half of the table to a potential place in the Europa League.

However, the early stages of Dalglish’s return was marred by Fernando Torres’ £50 million departure to rivals Chelsea, a deal completed on January 31 2011, and one which was met with resentment and devastation around Anfield.

The Spaniard’s departure coincided with the arrivals of two players who would go on to have polarising trajectories at the club, as both Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll made the move – the latter for a club-record fee of £35m which would not be broken until Mohamed Salah‘s arrival in 2017.

With Dalglish having turned Liverpool’s on-field fortunes around with a sixth-place finish he was duly rewarded with a three year contract as his second spell in charge of the Reds became official on May 12 2011.

Upon the announcement of the deal, owner John W Henry said: “It was obvious to us very early on that the atmosphere surrounding the club had been transformed by his presence. No-one else could have produced such a response.”

Future European Cup-winning captain Jordan Henderson would sign on the dotted line over the summer from Sunderland ahead of what would be a mixed campaign.

The Reds’ indifferent Premier League form which saw them finish in eighth position, the joint-lowest since 1994, was juxtaposed by their domestic success having reached the League Cup and FA Cup final.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates with the Carling Cup Trophy

They won the former on penalties against Cardiff City on February 26, 2012 – the first trophy in six years and the record eighth time in the competition throughout Liverpool’s history.

However, with Champions League football again off the table for the following season attendance levels once again dwindled with as few as 40,000 inside Anfield against Chelsea in the last game of the campaign.

And less than a year after his position was made permanent, Dalglish would depart on May 16, 2012 – meaning the Reds were on the hunt for their fourth manager since the turn of the decade.


A New Face Takes Reds to Cusp of Glory

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, June 1, 2012: Liverpool's new manager Brendan Rodgers poses during a photocall to announce him as the new manager of Liverpool Football Club at Anfield. (Pic by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)

The next man in line would arrive from Swansea on June 1 2012, to a mixed reception and would go on to occupy the position for a little over three years.

He would make an immediate impression, not necessarily the best one, on the fanbase upon the release of the documentary ‘Being Liverpool’ which followed him and his side during his first pre-season at the club throughout their tour of the United States.

A mix of the old guard and transfer failings would exit Anfield ahead of Rodgers’ first campaign with the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez and Charlie Adam exiting while Fabio Borini and Joe Allen arrived.

The Reds got off to a slow start having failed to win any of their five opening league games in 2012/13, they lost three in that period and would go on to fall to defeat only a further six times as they started to pick up momentum.

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho (right) celebrates with team-mate Daniel Sturridge (left) after scoring his team's second goal vs. Fulham, 2013. (Picture by Andrew Matthews PA Archive/PA Images)

Off the field, FSG continued in their bid to lay the foundations for a new era when on October 15 2012, they announced the club would remain at Anfield and redevelop the ground, a plan which would come to pass over two years later in December 2014 when a £115m redevelopment of the Main Stand was announced.

In January 2013, Liverpool would sign two players who would swiftly play a vital role in taking the club to the cusp of their first league title in over 24 years in Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.

While Carroll had long departed, Suarez was experiencing an exponential rise and it attracted the interest of Arsenal and the Uruguayan himself in the summer of 2013, only for a £40,000,001 bid to be rejected and Henry to question what they were “smoking over there at the Emirates?”

He was to be suspended for the start of the 2013/14 season after biting Chelsea‘s Branislav Ivanovic, a time which saw Sturridge come to the fore before the pair reunited to score a combined 52 league goals.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Monday, May 5, 2014: Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the third goal against Crystal Palace during the Premiership match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool would narrowly miss out on the title to Manchester City by two points but Rodgers was to be rewarded for his efforts and securing the club’s first Champions League appearance since 2008/09, signing a four year contract extension on May 26 2014.

And after over three years at Anfield with 133 appearances and 82 goals to his name, Suarez would then depart the club on July 11 2014, for £75m.

Poor decisions in the transfer window followed as Liverpool failed to invest the funds received from Barcelona wisely and it would ultimately come to Rodgers’ downfall.

The 2014/15 campaign started with just 26 points from a possible 57 in the league in addition to failing to progress out of the group stages of the European Cup, and two semi-final appearances in the domestic cup competitions did little to cover over the cracks.

The start of a new calendar year in 2015 gave way to immediate unwelcome news as the club’s legendary skipper Steven Gerrard announced he would be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season after 17 years.

With little to suggest the Reds would be back fighting for silverware in the immediate future, Raheem Sterling, amid a contract dispute, pushed for an exit and would go on to move to Man City for £50m on 12 July 2015.

With Rodgers well and truly under pressure, he brought in a new backroom team for the upcoming season, but they would see only eight league games as following the 1-1 draw at Goodison Park on October 4, Rodgers was sacked with the club sat in tenth position.


Klopp Ushers in a New Era

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, October 9, 2015: Liverpool's new manager Jürgen Klopp during a photo-call at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A new era was then in store as quietly behind the scenes FSG had secured the club’s next manager, one which would go on to redefine the Reds for the remainder of the 2010s.

On October 8 2015, Jurgen Klopp was officially unveiled as Liverpool manager and with it, his quest to turn “doubters into believers” began.

The German would secure his first of many wins as manager when Liverpool overcame Bournemouth on 28 October 2015, in the League Cup.

Despite being unable to mould the squad to his liking as of yet, Klopp took the Reds to two cup finals in his maiden season, which included an incredible 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund on April 14, 2015.

While both final appearances ended in defeat, Liverpool would quickly learn that “only silly idiots stay on the floor.”

And although optimism started to be renewed within the stands as the club turned over a new leaf, the owners’ news of their intention to increase ticket prices to £77 was met with instant disdain and a walk-out at Anfield against Sunderland was staged on 10 February 2016.

An apology was soon made and the plans abandoned.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 24, 2016: Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the third goal against Hull City during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Liverpool would finish the Premier League season in eighth place, significant in-roads were made off the pitch as the Reds landed Sadio Mane, Gini Wijnaldum and Joel Matip – all of whom would later become champions of Europe.

Having more than proved the club was safe in his hands, ahead of his first full season at the helm Klopp signed a new six year contract in the summer of 2016, a campaign which saw the new Main Stand open and a return to Europe’s premier competition.

An eventful season would then follow in 2017/18, one which started with Coutinho itching for a move to Barcelona after the Spanish club submitted a number of bids for the Brazilian after sanctioning Neymar’s record-breaking transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

The Reds would hold firm, for now.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (left), manager Jurgen Klopp (centre) and Virgil van Dijk celebrate after the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, second leg match at Anfield, Liverpool.

Andy Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Salah – who finished the campaign with a staggering 44 goals – would arrive and a place in the Champions League group stages was confirmed for the first time since 2014/15 when Liverpool overcame Hoffenheim in the qualifying stage in August.

The Reds sat inside the top four and were set for the knockouts of the Champions League when they sanctioned Coutinho’s £142m move to Barcelona on January 6 2018.

But Liverpool had significantly softened the blow having announced the arrival of Virgil van Dijk for £75m as 2017 came to an end, a player who go on to transform the backline and become a Ballon d’Or contender.

A place in the Champions League final then beckoned on May 26 2018, but like the two finals which preceded it, the Reds would not leave with the result they had hoped for.

However, the Liverpool juggernaut was only getting started as Fabinho, Alisson, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri were then added to the fold as Klopp guided his side to a memorable 2018/19 season.

A title run would end in heartbreak as an astonishing 97 point league campaign was not enough to secure a long-awaited title but, on May 7 2019, Liverpool would partake in one of Anfield’s greatest nights as a three goal deficit to Barcelona was overturned to book a place in the European Cup final.

Liverpool players and staff on the bus during the Champions League Winners Parade in Liverpool. (PA Image)

And on June 1, the Reds ended their seven year wait for silverware as Klopp picked up his first trophy for the club in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham, where a welcoming committee of over 750,000 lined the streets of Liverpool upon their return.

In present day, the Reds currently sit atop of the Premier League table with an eight point buffer, are similarly placed in their Champions League group and have the chance to secure their first Club World Cup in just over a months time.

It is a stark contrast to where Liverpool Football Club found themselves at the turn of 2010 as not only are the Reds a forced to be reckoned with on the field, they are also a well-oiled machine off it.

The future is brighter than ever and only time will tell what the next ten years has in store for the mighty Reds.