The announcement of Brendan Rodgers sacking by Liverpool following the Reds 1-1 draw against Everton hardly comes as any surprise to anyone. Many predicted a Premier League managerial sacking to come within the next few weeks, we didn’t have to wait long. Rodgers, who took the job at the start of the 2012/13 season after an exceptional spell as Swansea manager, was always under the spotlight taking such a high profile role with his background. You could say Rodgers was a marmite manager, who took Swansea to new heights with promotion to the Premier League in his 2 years at the club but had a bad spell as manager at Reading in the first half of the 2009/10 season. Whilst some might see this sacking as long overdue, there will be some who will be far more sympathetic on the Northern Irishman. Here we will look at some of the factors behind Rodgers’ sacking on Sunday and who is really to blame for Liverpool’s downturn in fortunes over the last few seasons.
One of, if not the main reasons for Rodgers sacking is simple, the results weren’t good enough. In Rodgers last 9 games in all competitions as Liverpool manager, the Reds picked up 1 win (in 90 mins) with the 3-2 win over Aston Villa last weekend. This added to the fact that in the last 3 seasons, Liverpool have only qualified for the Champions League once, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of all those involved at the Anfield club considering the club’s history and where they have come from far more recently.
The FA Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa will have also played a part more retrospectively on Rodger’s departure in a game many expected them to win. Despite this, in his time in charge Brendan Rodgers had not lost a Merseyside derby which will always hold him high amongst the fans. Also, Rodgers’ had taken Liverpool as close as they have ever come to winning the Premier League title, only missing out on the final day of the 2013/14 season to Manchester City. One factor will always remain, for a team with the stature of Liverpool. Rodgers had never won a trophy as Liverpool manager and has still not won anything in his time in management (unless you consider the Championship playoff win in 2011 a trophy, an achievement nonetheless). Some may look to Rodgers tactics as one of the big issues to results not being up to standard, which lacked real consistency with changes made far too often during the season not allowing players to settle down in tactic choices.
Rodgers position at Liverpool was made all the more difficult due to the loss of big players in the last few seasons. In the loss of Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, Rodgers lost two big fan favourites, both at Liverpool from the start of their careers and two natural born leaders on the pitch. Whilst Carragher felt his career was over, Gerrard’s move to LA Galaxy brought a big issue to Rodgers’ selections, who would lead the club on the pitch with two influential names in the dressing room moving on?
Electing on Jordan Henderson might every well have been the sensible move in the long run but he had very little leadership experience from the start despite being selected as vice-captain under Gerrard the season previous. Liverpool’s second place finish in the Premier League in the 2013/14 season was under no doubt largely down to the impressive form of the front three of Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. At the start of the current season, only Sturridge remains at Anfield despite being highly injury prone. Suarez’s was always under the media spotlight since joining Liverpool due to his notorious reputation at Ajax, this made him a media target. He was however, lethal for Liverpool at the heart of the attack and 31 league goals in 2013/14 made him a wanted man for no less than Barcelona. £75million was enough to take Rodgers’ star attraction away from him. Raheem Sterling on the other hand left in more controversial circumstances, a player who felt his talents were better than the ‘mediocrity’ of Liverpool, despite only scoring 18 league goals for the Reds. A £59million offer was enough to sell the young England international to Manchester City last summer and again taking another of Rodgers major striking options. The loss of all these stars can be seen as unfortunate on Brendan Rodgers time at Liverpool as transfer dealings like these led Jamie Carragher to publically label Liverpool as a ‘selling club’ following Rodgers sacking on Sunday.
Those who have sympathy for Brendan Rodgers’ following his sacking on Sunday might be looking towards the clubs owners, Fenway Sports Group as to why it has all gone wrong at Anfield. The changes in personnel in the background had not allowed for any consistency amongst the Liverpool management which filtered down to the team. As mentioned previously, combined, the Suarez and Sterling deals brought £134millon into the club, however, Brendan Rodgers was not allowed to reinvest much of that cash back into the club with inadequate replacements brought in through the likes of Mario Balotelli and Roberto Firmino brought in cheaply by comparison to replace them.
In saying this however, both Joe Gomez (signed from Charlton) and academy graduate Jordan Ibe have made strong statements for starting places in the first team. The blame for this can only come down to the owners’ decision on a transfer committee which hasn’t brought the results that they expected. The money from the transfer fees seem to have gone on other projects such as the expansion of Anfield which while needed to bring more revenue into the club each weekend, should maybe have been spent on the team to make them more competitive in the league which in any club should always be priority. The big problem Rodgers also had from the owners was other interests from the owners such as their ventures in the US in the Boston Red Sox baseball team. Whilst Tom Werner and Fenway Sports Group claim to be ruthless against their teams’ management, the decision to sack Rodgers now instead of during the summer was simply the wrong decision and whoever take the Liverpool job next will have little chance to make changes from a transfer perspective now until January. This decision plays strongly against the club themselves and Rodgers himself.
So the big question following all of the debate of Rodgers’ sacking is clear, what next for Liverpool? First things first, the search for a new manager in now on. Big names have been linked with the job in the past and some are currently available. Diego Simeone has been linked despite being settled at Atletico Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti is available after leaving Real Madrid at the end of last season, but the bookies favourite is former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp who has expressed his decision to move forward in his career with a big club in Europe. Time will tell on that front.
But within Liverpool, changes must be made at the top. Allowing managers to have more influence in the transfer market will be key to attracting the top managers, and whoever comes in next will want their say on who come in and who leaves Anfield. There must also be more practical decisions made on who supports the new manager in Director of Football roles. Once all these issues have been resolved then Liverpool can look forward and plan ahead to become one of European football’s giants once again. As for Brendan Rodgers, arguments from both sides regarding his sacking are equally warranted, Rodgers wasn’t able to hold up a strong team against their domestic and European rivals but at the same time, the Northern Irishman’s job at the club was made even harder because of the poor decision making of the owners. In the meantime, it’s down to the job centre for Mr Rodgers… I hear there is an opening at Sunderland, would you like an interview?