Rodgers arrives, Hendo fights & Suarez lays down the gauntlet – Liverpool FC in 2012/13

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The 2012/13 campaign marked a new era for Liverpool with the arrival of Brendan Rodgers as manager, and the emergence of a host of influential figures on the pitch.

Rodgers was appointed to the dugout following an exciting run with Swansea that saw them finish 11th in their first-ever season in the Premier League, and hopes were high.

The foundations were already set by Kenny Dalglish the previous campaign, but with Rodgers in place, Liverpool were poised to push back towards the top.

Though they ultimately finished seventh in his first season in charge, there were signs of things to come from the Reds, particularly following a defining January transfer window.

Liverpool scored 71 goals in the league in 2012/13—their biggest tally in four seasons—and with 13 players making their debuts across all competitions an injection of new blood brought positivity to Merseyside.

It was a season that, on reflection, laid the groundwork for the upcoming title challenge, and for one player, set in motion a revival that has led him into Anfield folklore.

 

The promise of Sterling

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 31, 2012: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Raheem Sterling during the Football League Cup 4th Round match against Swansea City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He may now be derided on the Kop, but it is impossible to ignore the contribution of Raheem Sterling during Rodgers’ time as manager.

The youngster had already debuted under Dalglish in March, but on the back of an infamous run-in with the new boss in pre-season, documented in the Being: Liverpool series, Sterling become a first-team regular in 2012/13.

His talent demanded it, with Sterling’s pace, creativity and work rate making him a key player for Rodgers as the campaign wore on.

Twenty-four appearances came in the league, with the winger tallying six assists and scoring two goals, including a 29th-minute winner in the 1-0 victory over Reading at Anfield.

 

Luis’ precursor

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 29, 2012: Liverpool's hat-trick hero Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz celebrates scoring the fourth goal, his third of his hat-trick, against Norwich City during the Premiership match at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 2013/14 campaign is, rightly, regarded as Luis Suarez’s zenith at Liverpool, with 31 goals setting the record for most times hitting the back of the net in a single Premier League season—until that was broken by Mo Salah.

But the Uruguayan was already excellent in 2012/13, scoring 30 in all competitions and 23 in the league to comfortably cement himself as the Reds’ leading goalscorer under Rodgers.

There may have even been more memorable moments from Suarez in the campaign before the title run.

The hat-tricks at Carrow Road, the dive in front of David Moyes, that stunning goal against Newcastle, the free-kick that hammered the Southampton crossbar…the list goes on.

 

The fringe figures who made it elsewhere

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 20, 2012: Liverpool's 'Suso' Jesus Joaquin Fernandez Saenz De La Torre in action against Reading during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On paper, Rodgers’ squad for the 2012/13 campaign was very strong.

But looking back, many of those to stand out have only found their feet since leaving Liverpool, having stayed on the fringes at Anfield.

Take Suso, for example, who made 14 appearances in the league but lost his place in the side midway through the season, before eventually establishing himself at AC Milan.

Or Nuri Sahin, who was arguably mismanaged by Rodgers and saw his loan deal terminated in January to facilitate a return to Dortmund, having featured just seven times.

Even Fabio Borini and Jonjo Shelvey have found success away from Merseyside, while Stewart Downing is enjoying a renaissance with Blackburn in the Championship.

 

Sturridge and Coutinho arrive

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 12, 2013: Liverpool's hat-trick hero Daniel Sturridge with the match-ball after his three goals helped the Reds come from behind to beat Fulham 3-1 during the Premiership match at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At the end of 2012, Liverpool were sitting ninth in the Premier League, having spent 16 of the first 17 gameweeks in the bottom half of the table.

They needed a mid-season boost, and the timing was perfect, therefore, as Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho joined in two of the best bargain deals in the club’s history.

Sturridge joined for £12 million, having found himself out of favour at Chelsea, and went on to score 10 goals in 14 games in the league in the second half of 2012/13.

Coutinho, meanwhile, was an £8.5 million signing from Inter Milan, providing some much-needed creativity as a more natural successor to Sahin in the advanced role in midfield; the Brazilian was a revelation.

Their impact was phenomenal, and that is abundantly clear watching back.

 

Henderson’s battling campaign

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 30, 2013: Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring the second goal against Arsenal during the Premiership match at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There were many other narratives at Anfield throughout 2012/13, from Jamie Carragher’s swansong to Steven Gerrard’s continued brilliance despite age creeping up on him.

But none were as gripping and ultimately decisive as Jordan Henderson‘s battle from the brink after being offered to Fulham in a part-exchange deal for Clint Dempsey in the summer of 2012.

Henderson famously turned down the move, vowing to prove Rodgers wrong—and his performances throughout the season went a long way towards doing so.

How good was his goal at home to Norwich? Or that dogged run and finish at Arsenal? And the burst and chip away to Villa?

The midfielder’s influence only grew as the seasons went on, and now he is the Reds’ fifth European Cup-winning captain; how different things could have been had moved to Craven Cottage.

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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