Wow. There I am about to sit down eat my dinner after working today and it broke. Brendan had gone. Pushed at the start of the international break, that two week period where certain managers will be worried when the phone rings. I’d missed the Merseyside Derby but thought initially a 1-1 draw at Goodison was an ok result for Liverpool against an in-form Everton side on a massive high after their comeback win against West Brom. Yet now Brendan has been pushed at the start of October. The surprise perhaps for me is the timing.
Liverpool sit 10th in the Premier League, three points off the top 4 with West Ham, Leicester and Palace ahead of them. Those three teams, you can say will probably come below Liverpool. Throw into the mix Southampton, Tottenham and Everton who Liverpool, especially in the case of the latter two, and Liverpool tend to finish in the mix for the Top 4. You can obviously throw the bizarre demise of Chelsea into the mix and see them coming up on the rails at some point this season but Liverpool will be there. Liverpool haven’t pulled up trees this year but they aren’t following Sunderland in listless shipping lane of Premier League teams, Liverpool performances were getting better with the team still playing for Rodgers.
In my humble opinion Liverpool have potentially panicked and pulled the trigger a little early on this one. Rodgers’ squad needed time to settle this year and they are by no means out of any Top 4 situation. Milner is growing in influence, Danny Ings seems to be settling in very nicely, Daniel Sturridge has returned; these are all things which should in fact be supported and appreciated for any Liverpool fan. The Liverpool squad of this season was always going to find it hard to come in and win 5 games on the bounce at the start of the season but by January, this could all be a different story. Many people throw Rodgers’ spending into the equation, £300 million since he came in but equally a lot of that has been accrued. Furthermore, the calibre of player sold (or lost) is of much higher quality than is bring brought in to the club but who is to blame for that? Rodgers? The transfer committee? Liverpool’s standing in football? No one outside of the upper echelons of Liverpool Towers can apportion blame because it is faceless, Rodgers is the fall guy.
Liverpool’s standing in the game should be the next question Fenway Sports Group asks themselves. When they came into the club and walked around Anfield they would have seen the trophies, the history, the European cups and the league titles, Shankly, Paisley, and Dalglish. However how much of that heritage has a value in the new world of Premier League football? I would argue not that much. The landscape has changed and with the finances on offer at say Man City, you can offer a footballer the chance to make history whilst earning a larger sum of money and almost guaranteed Champions League football. Are Liverpool a Top 4 club? Since the end of the 08/09 season where they came 2nd, the answer is no. Apart from that the one season where they ripped up the Premier League rule book to come 2nd, under Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool have come 8th once, 7th twice and 6th twice. The money now at Manchester City should have made clear that without massive investment Liverpool’s own ‘big’ club status was dwindling, they are no longer a Top 4 club who warrant the respect that goes with that tag. If the Liverpool hierarchy are convinced that this position remains then Liverpool fans could have a very difficult time being told to expect and purse something which is untrue and the fans their flames of expectation.
The speed of such a decision, before Wenger has even finished his post-game duties to close one hell of a Super Sunday, hints that the powers that be have someone lined up and has given them the nod that he want’s job. Two names that come to mind immediately are Klopp and Ancelotti. I for one would be offering heaven and earth to get Ancelotti at Liverpool. The CV Carlo Ancelotti possesses, both as a player and a manager, is incredible and could inspire Liverpool to the level they have fallen from. Ancelotti is a winner, incredibly well respected within the game and will bring a calibre of player into the club that Liverpool have only lost in recent years. However with Ancelotti and Klopp both available since the start of the summer, if one of these two happen to come into the club, why not in July or August? Rodger’s position was under great scrutiny after the Stoke City defeat but instead of paying with his head, he paid with having to rejig his backroom staff bringing in O’Driscoll and McAllister, and then go on and be backed by the board. After such heavy backing again in the summer, the timing of this sacking furthers raises questions about the processes of the Liverpool top brass. Whilst not perfect, surely more time was warranted? Or if Rodgers really had to do something that special to keep his job after 8 games, then surely it was fairer to sack him in the summer rather than pursuing something out of reach? The sacking fits with the timing of the international break but it does seems a slightly strange time in the Rodgers timeline and the situation at Liverpool over the summer.
Rodgers is the first manager to be sacked this season and I think back to when I wrote my first piece about Brendan after the Manchester Utd game. I couldn’t help but look at Rodgers in his last post-match press conference (part of the derby I did see courtesy of Sky Sports News) and saw a manager who 18 months ago had an unshakable affinity with the Liverpool fans, the LMA manager of year and tipped to be one of next bright managers of the game. Yet he was defending his position with passion, like he had done for the previous month when the vultures started circling and I couldn’t help but think who would want to be Brendan Rodgers?