And so it was.
After a 1-1 draw in the Merseyside Derby, an annual rite of passage that pits Everton FC versus Liverpool in a battle for city bragging rights, Brendan Rodgers went to the cameras and at around 4:00 PM BST, he told the world that he didn’t feel any pressure for his job.
In fact, Rodgers stated that he believed that although Liverpool had only won 1 game out of their last 9 matches, he still had a lot to achieve with this group and that they could grow as a unit.
By 6:30 PM BST, Brendan Rodgers was fired and his tenure with Liverpool FC, often mired in questionable decisions, tinkering and an overconfidence in abilities that oft went unwarranted; met it’s unceremonious end. The news was quick, decisive and left no room for confusion. Fenway Sports Group, the owners of Liverpool, had finally had enough and decided to finally go in a different direction.
It’s unfortunate because in reality, Brendan Rodgers was always leaning out over his skis, so to speak. The Northern Irishman had brought Swansea up to the EPL in 2011 on a brand of elegant, attacking football; although he had never as much played a League Fixture ever in his own career.
He was labeled a “boy genius” and would leave for greener pastures, Liverpool, where he would finish second in the league in 2014. Things however, quickly soured as Liverpool would find themselves eliminated in European competition in the group stages, unable to replicate the success of talisman Luis Suarez who they were too cheap to retain, and eventually reveal the true extent of their austerity when they failed to pay Raheem Sterling when he demanded more for his immense talent.
Effectively, Liverpool chose Brendan Rodgers over Raheem Sterling and his English-born, British developed talent this summer. Whereas they could have cultivated a homegrown superstar with all the potential in the world, Fenway Sports Group and its owner, John Henry, along with its president, Mike Gordon, decided that relying on the tactics of Brendan Rodgers was a safer bet. It’s all the more reason why Rodgers getting fired after a 1-1 draw is more surprising than people would care to admit.
Liverpool was currently sitting in 6th place in the table, 3 points out of 4th place. As much as fans want to rush and asked for someone’s head, Liverpool wasn’t sitting in that bad of a spot. As has been seen, the league has been as topsy-turvy this year as it has ever been. One week you can be the victor of a 5-1 game, the next you can be beat 3-0. It’s the nature of the beast in the EPL where parity has become king. It can be argued that Rodgers could have probably maintained the team within striking distance. As such, it was probably too early to fire him. Moreover, it comes across as a panic move. You would hope that Liverpool would have someone lined up, like former Real Madrid boss, Carlo Ancelotti or former Borussia Dortmund man, Jurgen Klopp, but if they don’t and they made such a drastic move in the middle of their season? They just doomed their campaign.
Furthermore, while Rodgers’ tactics and lineups can be questioned, you cannot fault him entirely for the squad that is being put on the pitch either. It becomes increasingly difficult in World Football to have a successful football team when your hands are tied. At Liverpool, Mike Gordon and his “transfer committee” have overseen the transfer window for the club the past 3 years. For 3 years it has been evident that Brendan Rodgers never fully worked with a full deck and many of the players that the team have invested in haven’t been players who Rodgers believes would fit his system. It’s part of the reason why players like Dejan Lovren were constant fixtures in a Liverpool Starting 11 when better players exist on the bench. It’s also the reason why players like Danny Ings didn’t get sufficient run until just recently, or why Adam Lallana saw inconsistent playing time.
As interesting as the managerial decision, or rather the lack of having a manager like Rodgers at the helm can be, just as interesting is how much say the former manager and future manager will have at a club when it comes to transfers and squad formation. Rodgers was always involved in a sort of tug-of-war with executives and the transfer committee, with it always seeming that half the players in each transfer window were personally selected by him. Th other half were clearly “transfer committee” players and that tension, that disparity between manager and board, is never conducive to a proper environment within a football club. No matter who the manager is going forward, having your hands tied by an executive board, or an individual executive, like Mike Gordon, is never going to allow you to truly be successful.
Really, unless you have a manager, a committee or a board that are completely on the same page about practically everything, you’re destined to have problems. Selling guys like Sterling or Suarez are big losses, but when you consistently begin to miss out on targets as they have over the past three years because neither manager or committee can agree upon the direction of the club going forward? You become backed into a corner, hamstrung and placed in a no-win situation.
That said, it’s a lot easier to fire a manager than to fire yourself if you’re a team president. It’s a lot easier to can the manager even if you’re just as responsible for the team’s struggles, with the implementation of a self-created “transfer committee” having done more harm than good. The fact that committee has failed can be chalked up to a mistake on Mike Gordon’s part.
Still, you can’t pin everything on Gordon or his committee either. Rodgers inexperience showed at various points in his tenure. He would throw his own philosophy of attacking football under the bus at the first sign of distress. He wouldn’t have continuity with his lineups or his formations.
The ship, from board to manager to players on the field often looked rudderless. They did so because over the past 3 years, the team sadly never had a cohesive direction.
The hope now is that Liverpool can finally hire someone who is going to give them the direction and stability that they need. Hiring someone like an Ancelotti or a Klopp would immediately dissolve the imposed “transfer committee” because neither man would come to Merseyside without complete control. It’s how things would need to be and would assuredly be a requirement.
Liverpool had created an environment with their club, since the beginning of the season and even before that, all the way back to the Suarez debacle, where it looked like a circus. It had become a mess and that mess had permeated the club as a whole.
Did you need to fire Rodgers at some point? Probably. You needed a change and you can’t fire ownership or an executive board, so someone was going to have to be the fall guy. That said, you only do it if you have a solid replacement lined up. If you don’t, you just tanked the season.
If you do have a Klopp or an Ancelotti lined up, however? You gave them ample time to get a feel for the team before the January window starts, where they can assess who fits their system and who needs to be re-evaluated before the window opens and gives you an opportunity to fill needs specific to your formation and new style of play.
Fenway Sports Management howvever, has a history of never getting it right. They brought in Kenny Daglish, a club legend and then they sacked him immediately. They got rid of Sterling and Suarez because they didn’t want to reach deep into their pockets for what is pocket-change to them. They hired Brendan Rodgers when he was under-qualified for such a job, such a task.
One hopes that Liverpool would get it right, but right now? It looks like they panicked. Like they responded negatively and listened to all the pressures.
Like it has been for the past three years, Liverpool once again looks like a circus.
And it’s not entirely Brendan Rodgers’ fault.
Tags: Brendan Rodgers, English Premier League, EPL, LFC, Liverpool, Liverpool FC