Blowing the Suarez money and falling out with Gerrard - why Liverpool had to sack Rodgers

From wasting the money from the sale of the Uruguayan to letting the club’s skipper leave on a free transfer, Goal looks at why it all went so sour for their now ex-manager.

DESPITE MAINTAINING HIS unbeaten record in Merseyside derbies at Goodison Park, Brendan Rodgers’ time at Liverpool has come to an end after the Anfield outfit chose to sack their manager of over three seasons.

But why exactly was the Northern Irishman shown the door?

No silverware

Rodgers became the first Liverpool manager not to win a trophy in his first three seasons at Anfield and, though he came close, it was something which hung over him heading into the current campaign.

He, of course, came close in the Premier League two seasons ago as well as leading the Reds to an FA Cup semi-final last term. But a club such as Liverpool must be winning silverware of some kind even if they are struggling in the league. But under Rodgers that has not been the case, and at the end of the day you get very little for a runners-up spot in football. Liverpool is a club based on winning, and Rodgers was unable to live up to that.

Blowing the Suarez money

Rodgers may never get the credit he deserved for Liverpool’s superb 2013-14 campaign when they came so close to winning the Premier League title, and that is largely down to Luis Suarez’s brilliance.

But perhaps Rodgers’ greatest failure was the way in which he went about trying to replace one man with a series of inferior players. Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Mario Balotelli and Emre Can were among those purchased with the money raised by the sale of Suarez, and as yet not one has gone onto fully prove themselves.

And while the finger can be pointed at the fabled transfer committee within Anfield for their part in the saga, Rodgers leaves Merseyside having put together a bloated squad that is short on quality.

Signing Balotelli

Soccer - Mario Balotelli File Photo Source: Peter Byrne

Throughout the summer of 2014, Rodgers insisted that Mario Balotelli would not be a Liverpool player while he was still manager of the club. However, the Reds eventually forked out £16 million on the Milan striker, with many believing Rodgers was the man-manager the Italian needed to calm down and finally fulfil his potential in the English game.

But it soon became evident to the most optimistic of fans that the deal was destined to fail. The former Manchester City man scored just four goals, was left at home on matchdays despite a shortage of forward options, got into trouble with the FA over a seemingly racist Instagram post and generally proved to be exactly the player many feared he would be on Merseyside. Just over 12 months on, he is back at San Siro on loan.

Mismanaging the Sterling saga

In Rodgers’s defence, he is blameless for much of what went on during the Raheem Sterling saga that dominated the news agenda at Anfield during the first half of 2015, but there are still factors that he could have dealt with far better.

He was unable to convince Sterling that the club could match his ambition and challenge for titles while his inability to bring a halt to the embarrassing interviews that the England teenager was involved in showed a lack of man-management skills. On the pitch, meanwhile, he was guilty of shuffling, after Suarez’s exit, the club’s most talented player across the forward line, fielding him as a false nine and at times a right wing-back.

Letting Steven Gerrard go

Steven Gerrard was the face of Liverpool during Rodgers’s first two years at the club. For all the good things Suarez, Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho did in the final third, Gerrard was still the leader both on and off the field.

And yet Rodgers – though Gerrard refuses to fully acknowledge it – managed to force the ex-England captain out of the club. Gerrard is a player that never should have left Liverpool, yet he finds himself seeing out his career in the MLS with LA Galaxy.

In leaving the midfielder out at Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid he upset him so much that he felt he had to move on if he was to enjoy the final years of his playing career. There was a feeling from Gerrard that he was being phased out far too early despite a drop in form from his displays that saw him named in the PFA Team of the Season in 2013-14.

Defensive disasters

Liverpool’s main issue when they missed out on the title in 2013-14 was their defence. They conceded in excess of 50 goals, and Rodgers’s main task – as well as replacing Suarez – was to bolster his side at the back. Dejan Lovren arrived for £20m, though it was clear he was not up to the task early on.

Despite that, only Joe Gomez has been brought in as an option for that position, with one of the brightest young midfielders in Europe – Emre Can – deployed with mixed results in a defensive role. Rodgers’ apparent blinkers when it comes to his defensive frailties means his team lacked security throughout his time at the helm.

European failures

Though Rodgers insisted in his final press conference that he had never been told that he needed to qualify for the Champions League, his failures in European competitions were yet another black mark against his name.

Two underwhelming Europa League campaigns sandwiched a group stage exit from the biggest club competition of them all, and in leaving key players out of European fixtures he showed a lack of ability when it came to managing workloads. The Reds should be prioritising a competition they have won five times – instead they flopped miserably.

Lack of self-awareness

By the end of the 2014-15 campaign, Rodgers had become a parody of himself during his press conferences. ‘Character’ routinely came up no matter what the result or performance while he seemed to be able to put a positive spin on any point.

His celebrations on the touchline became cringeworthy even for the Anfield faithful, while there is a feeling he began to believe his own hype rather than concentrating on the job in hand. Only now has that belief seemingly dissipated, but it came too late for the Northern Irishman.

Availability of others

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Daniel Ochoa de Olza

One major factor boards must take into account when sacking a manager is who could be brought in as a replacement, and it’s fair to say the Liverpool board are not short of options.

Carlo Ancelotti is out of work having left Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp could yet be tempted away from his sabbatical to take over. Andre Villas-Boas could too be an option if he could be lured from Zenit St. Petersburg before his scheduled departure at the end of the campaign. Rodgers barely stood a chance with so many viable alternatives.

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Brendan Rodgers has been sacked by Liverpool

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