“It had been coming for weeks, probably even months.”
This is what is being said in every pub, newspaper column and office on the topic of Brendan Rodgers’ sacking. Some might point to this summer where money was spent in the wrong areas, or the previous summer where certain players weren’t replaced, but I think it's been coming since the full time whistle on 27 April 2014. There’s even pretence to say it has been coming since the retirement of Jamie Carragher.
What I’m trying to say is that Brendan Rodgers led Liverpool through one of the most painful transitions since the resignation of Kenny Dalglish in 1991. Similarly, when Dalglish left, Liverpool lost it’s talisman, whether he is on or off the pitch, it didn’t matter, he was there, he was someone the fans could point to and be proud of.
The same can be applied to Carragher, to Gerrard and to Suarez. Genuine world-class players that made the fans dream again and actually be proud of what they had. So when all three talismanic players left within the space of twenty-four months, it was bound to have a deeply disturbing psychological impact. This was only made worse by the scarring of the end of the 13/14 season which took it to a whole other level.
Ever since the game versus Chelsea, Liverpool have never looked the same. I don’t think it affected Brendan Rodgers too much at the time, but it certainly did Gerrard, it probably cut a year or two off his future time at Liverpool as his gradual decline accelerated, only made worse by being the captain of a truly dispondent and genuinely awful England team at the 2014 World Cup.
The loss also had an affect on Luis Suarez who of course broke down in tears after the draw vs Crystal Palace. He was disappointed at the result of course but more than that, it was confirmation that his team were not winning the league after looking so promising throughout.
Liverpool have been going through the football-equivalent of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, putting all these factors together reveal deep problems in the mindset of the club.
It would be deeply unfair to pin this blame on Brendan Rodgers as losing Carragher, Gerrard and Suarez was entirely out of his hands. Carragher wanted to retire and move into punditry, Gerrard was psychological broken and as mentioned earlier, systemically declined as a player much faster than expected. Suarez was the subject of an offer from Barcelona which was too good to turn down, not to mention banned for several months because of his behaviour at the World Cup.
I got the sense that in the 14/15 season, sometimes, whilst out of the field, the Liverpool players would still be looking for their departed teammates. Again, not the fault of Rodgers but it’s been clear for some time that the team has still not quite got over the failure of 13/14, despite all the good play and the goals and so on, they still lost the league, that’s the hard truth. Even with an abundance of new players, one mainstay from that team was the manager. Even if he didn’t show it, or admit, it’s clear that these psychological scars where present on him too later on.
Where did so called ‘death by football’ go? It was hardly present, if at all, in the 14/15 season and was abandoned entirely at the start of this campaign. Brendan Rodgers joined Liverpool with a dossier that said he was going to play football in a certain way, at the start of this season, that idea was so far out of the window, it might as well have been on another planet.
Some might call Rodgers’ removal harsh, to a slight extent, it is. However, it was clear that ever since the 13/14 season, he has been unable to get the team to play the way he wanted- whether it is indeed down to the players bought or not is of course open for debate but the fact remains, Liverpool abandoned their successful play-style and suffered greatly as a result.
This is all stemming from the final few weeks of the 13/14 season, where everything which made Liverpool so great again was systemically drained from the club within a few months.
With Rodgers now removed from his post and whether it is Jurgen Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti or Mark Warburton (seriously, the f**king Rangers manager?) taking his place, they can make the fans forget about Gerrard and Suarez by making the team win again. Once the new manager stamps their authority on the team, it will be the first truly post-Gerrard occasion at Anfield, it has been a false start until now. There’s no lingering memories or connections to that fateful day in April, because the new manager will be a bout of fresh air, a human reboot button, the ultimate pallet cleanser.