I’m going to be away for a week or so now, so with speculation rife that Rodgers will be on his way out in the very near future, I thought I’d share this jumble of thoughts, plus take a look at Rodgers’ complete Premier League record for Liverpool.
For me, I think Rodgers has largely been doomed from day one. It was always just a question of how long it would take.
He was appointed by owners that many people didn’t (and still don’t) trust, to replace the club’s greatest living legend, and then his every foible was immediately broadcast to the world via Being: Liverpool. Many people immediately took against him then, and as far as I can see have never changed their minds.
Never mind that Liverpool scored the club’s then second highest Premier League goals tally in his first season.
Never mind that the Reds had their best league challenge in 24 years in his second season, and scored 100 top flight goals for the first time ever. Never mind that Liverpool won 26 games for the first time ever in a 38 game top flight season.
Never mind that for half of 2014/15 (29 of the total of 58 games, roughly in the middle) the Reds only lost three times (and only twice inside ninety minutes) and that the losses were United, Chelsea and Besiktas, and all away from home to boot.
Never mind that in the 23 completed seasons of Premier League football, Liverpool have had seven with runs of 13-or-more games unbeaten, and that two of Rodgers’ three seasons have featured one. Or that even last season the Reds had a five game winning run, and they’ve only had longer in four of the previous 22 seasons, and one of those was obviously under Rodgers too.
Never mind any of that. Rodgers had no top level success before he got the job, used a few management speak bullshit terms, fixed his teeth and left his wife. For many, this has been more relevant than performance on the pitch. If you don’t believe those things count against him, do a quick google image search and see what comes up along the top:
Don’t get me wrong, it clearly seems like time for a change at Anfield, and it has certainly reached the point where I won’t have any complaints about that when it happens. Whilst there have been good runs of results in the last year or so, the trend of Liverpool’s long term goal difference under Rodgers shows why he is on the ropes
I’ve no argument with any grumblings over the performances for the last year or so either. Even when the Reds went on a great run last season, they didn’t generally play entertaining football to do it.
I think my main bugbear is with the attitude to the results under Rodgers. For instance, I’m sure most of you know that Liverpool have only taken 16 points from their last 15 games. But how many people know they took 76 from the 38 prior to that, with 29 of those games being in 2014/15 which was by all accounts dreadful?
I guess my main point is that Rodgers’ bad times (results wise) are remembered far more vividly by most people than his good spells are, and that the good ones make up more of his time too. I just want the guy to be given a fair assessment, he deserves that much at least.
The new boss, whoever he is, will do well to match the achievements of Rodgers I’ve mentioned above. They’re certainly not impossible to match, but neither will it be easy. And the next manager will be driven out of town before too long anyway too. Let’s not forget, large sections of the Liverpool fanbase have called for their last two title challenging managers to go the season after they nearly won the league. Anfield is an unforgiving place for managers who come close to delivering the club’s ultimate target.
Patience is in short supply these days, and however many good years the next man has, there’ll be #kloppout (or whoever) once it starts heading south, and due to the Reds’ place in the financial pecking order, they are very unlikely to overachieve repeatedly year after year. It’s a fact; a depressing one as a Liverpool fan, but a fact nonetheless.
Being Brendan at Liverpool will have been tough, but it’ll be as bad if not worse for the next chap to take on the weight of history, expectation, and financial imbalance in the Premier League.
Anyway, as promised, a quick look at Rodgers’ league record with the Reds.
As I write this, the next match on the agenda is Aston Villa at Anfield. The Villans are one of only two teams that Rodgers has failed to beat yet at home (of those he has faced at least twice), along with Chelsea. Would it be that surprising if he beat them on Saturday but was then relieved of his duties regardless?
Let’s say that Villa is Rodgers’ last game, for argument’s sake. Depending on the result, he’ll finish with a points-per-game figure that would average somewhere between 67.5 and 68.5 when stretched across a 38 game season. Any idea what Liverpool’s average points-per-game tally was for the seventeen seasons prior to Rodgers taking charge?
I guess this has been Rodgers’ undoing (though a generally poor record against the big teams certainly hasn’t helped perceptions of his era, irrespective of the fact that Liverpool frequently lost away at the big four before he joined too. His record against Palace and Hull is far more bothersome for me).
Matching ‘par’ for the club is no longer enough to sate the appetites of the fanbase, even if it’s far from a disaster in performance terms either. For Liverpool to secure regular Champions League qualification, they need a manager who can put 70 plus points on the board every year, rather than one who might get low 60s one year, but then might get in to the 80s another.
Who knows, maybe Rodgers can win a few games and stay in charge longer than I currently think. But it feels like the endgame has begun, so perhaps my next blog post will be about Klopp, or Ancelotti (or maybe Monk if FSG continue to hire up-and-coming young managers!). Whoever it is, they’ll get my support. Thanks for reading this ramble.