No Player Reviews this week, as far more significant events have occurred that I wish to discuss. If you really want to know, they did alright, Migs was excellent for once, and it wasn’t a bad result. But onto the main issue…
Goodbye Brendan. Thank you for all your hard work, dedication and effort. You weren’t the greatest manager that Liverpool Football Club has ever had, but then again that’s an impossible standard to achieve. You achieved something incredibly significant however, something I didn’t think anyone could do again…You Made Us Dream.
The 2013/2014 season will be one that will always live in my memory, for as long as I live. It started well, but the usual Liverpool dip occurred in September/October/November, and while I always, always walk on with hope in my heart, my dreams were of nicking 4th or maybe a cup run. However, from December – May, Brendan Rodgers made me DREAM. Titles and glory were part of my dreams, but just part of them. Brendan made me dream about glorious football, Roy of the Rovers style heroes and the future. He created a team that nobody saw coming, that took the Premier League by storm, which captured the imagination not just of Liverpool fans, but of football fans worldwide. Brendan’s team took opponents apart, with swashbuckling displays that left you rubbing your eyes in disbelief (if you were a Liverpool fan), or shaking your head in astonishment (if you were a fan of anybody else). The 5-0 away at Spurs, with Jon ‘Cafu’ Flanagan cracking one in off the underside of the bar. The 5-1 at home to Arsenal which was won in an extraordinary first 20 minutes after which Liverpool lead 4-0. The almost impossible 3-2 home win over Manchester City, a ‘title-decider’ that Liverpool had no real right to even be in, let alone win. You had the last hurrah of Steven Gerrard as a subplot to this melodrama. The maverick genius of Luis Suarez, the incredible fact that Daniel Sturridge didn’t get injured. Raheem Sterling coming of age WAY before his time, Philippe Coutinho announcing his arrival to the football world. Local lad Jon Flanagan cementing the left-back spot as his own. Brendan Rodgers created all of this. He oversaw it, he steered the team through the season, and he almost, almost won them the Premier League title, which would have been the most improbable of triumphs in this modern league of billionaire owners, Fergie-domination and 60,000+ seater stadiums.
We all know what has happened since that fateful day when Chelsea plundered a win at Anfield, and City went on to win the title. Brendan has lost Suarez, which he was powerless to prevent. He has lost Sterling, against his wishes, but again he was powerless to prevent it. He has lost Daniel Sturridge to injury for the best part of a full season.
He has worked under a structure within Liverpool Football Club that has caused issues. He has been presented with players he didn’t personally want, and he has missed out on players he craved. When he did identify players that he wanted he hit ridiculous obstacles. For one player he wanted he found that the ‘Transfer Committee’ were unable to open negotiations with the player’s agent, as nobody spoke French. I kid you not. I know this because I know the man brought in to make the call to the agent, as he spoke French. He has nothing to do with professional football, but he does speak the right language. For Brendan to have achieved what he did under these kind of circumstances is a hell of a feat.
He has many flaws too of course. Primarily, he’s young and inexperienced, and lacking pragmatism. The approach of the team in that Chelsea match that cost Liverpool the title was at best naive. A more pragmatic manager may well have looked at the full picture surrounding that match (Chelsea under-strength and with a far more important match on the horizon) and set their stall out for a point, that would have been enough for the title in all probability. However, Brendan and the team were on the crest of a wave, sweeping all before them, thrilling us all, and he wanted to deliver the title in the same manner. When 3-0 up away at Crystal Palace, the same failing was apparent. A lack of pragmatism led to the loss of a seemingly unassailable lead, and with it any hope of that precious league title. This refusal to be pragmatic is probably his biggest failing, and ultimately prevented him from being successful with Liverpool. He never at any time improved the defence to the standard required in the Premier League. You know that Brendan would much rather win a match 3-2 than 1-0, and it is this lack of pragmatism that has ultimately hurt him.
He is also far too open with his thoughts and beliefs to the media, and this has led him to being subject to ridicule as the difficult times refused to dissipate. Whether Brendan really believes in the ‘Brendan-isms’ he has dished out over the last 3 years is a moot point. If he does believe them, good for him. Whatever gets you through the day, I say. However, he needs to learn to keep them to himself, as he becomes a hostage to fortune by revealing these thoughts to the outside world. The glee with which a click-bait hungry media reported his comments is understandable, and at times humorous to us all. However, for his own sake, I hope he learns to temper his public utterances in future. He should be aiming for a @DullBrendan parody Twitter account in his next role.
He blotted his copybook with FSG too often for his own good also. I’m led to believe that he applied for the Manchester City job when Roberto Mancini departed, which FSG found out about months later, and they were understandably not impressed. They were also less than impressed with his handling of his divorce and his offers of settlement etc to his ex-wife. While this is a personal issue, FSG are an American organisation strong on ‘family values’. Finally, there was a clear breakdown in communication that led to the departure of Steven Gerrard from the club and I suspect that Brendan is being blamed for this also.
However, the amount of vile abuse directed at Brendan that I have seen among Liverpool fans over the past 9 months or so has deeply saddened me, and disgusted me to the core. I’m a proud Liverpool fan, and I know the qualities that fans of Liverpool Football Club possess in spades. However, the vitriol displayed through last season and into this has no place in our club. What I will say to all those who feel they have driven Brendan out (you haven’t, obviously, but judging by your commentary, your mental aptitude will most likely prevent you from understanding this), is that you may not know what you had until it’s gone. I’m sad tonight. Not just because Brendan has lost his job. Not just because Liverpool Football Club have sacked a manager, which they rarely do. I’m sad because as of right now we are vulnerable as a club. Who will be the new man? Will he work? Will Liverpool improve? Will they regress? Nobody knows. You could say this gives us hope, and of course there is a chance that we get Klopp or Ancelotti and everything comes up Millhouse. However we could get Allardyce and get relegated. You don’t know what’s around the corner. Brendan leaves Liverpool when they are 6 points off the top of the table, and 3 points off fourth spot, currently occupied by Crystal Palace. Brendan launched a title-assault from worse positions only two seasons ago.
I’ll leave you with this. As ever, we walk on with hope in our heart, and we hold our head up high. The man who made us dream has departed, the dream is over, and I’ve never been more awake. You know what though? We have Spurs away in two weeks time. Who’ll be in charge? Will it be 3-5-2? The game never ends….