In 2014 Brendan Rodgers was within touching distance of immortality on Merseyside, but Manchester City were on Liverpool’s tail throughout the campaign and snatched the title by two points.
The locals were distraught but loved the incredibly attacking formations Rodgers deployed. Liverpool were back, or so it seemed. Within 17 months, Jurgen Klopp made his availability known to Liverpool and in October last year Brendan was out of a job.
Celtic wanted Rodgers from the off but their major concern from the start was the familiar lure of English and Welsh lucre. Average managers there can command between £3m and £5m a year, getting on for 10% of Celtic’s income – and we pay tax and employer’s National Insurance, remember!
In recent weeks it became clear that Brendan is a Celtic man and was very interested in the job, while an offer he couldn’t refuse from England or Wales didn’t materialise. What went wrong for Brendan in Liverpool, after coming so close to the title, opened the door for Celtic.
The Merseyside team dropped from second to sixth last season, still higher than they were when he picked them up, but the slip worried the club to the extent that they could not resist Klopp’s availability. There’s reason to believe Liverpool were a tad hasty.
Much of Rodger’s success at Liverpool was based on getting the very best out of Suarez and Sturridge. They electrified English football in a manner which just didn’t happen before Brendan arrived, but Suarez fled for Barcelona as soon as he returned from his infamous World Cup, while Sturridge missed most of the following season through injury.
Suarez will be the first to break the Messi-Ronaldo Ballon d’Or duopoly. He is one of the world’s truly great players. Remember our own experiences when losing world class players.
We went from double winners to fifth (and sacked Jock Stein) when Dalglish left, and from 26 consecutive league wins to second when Larsson went. Losing one of the best players in the world takes time to recover from. What made Liverpool championship contenders just wasn’t there anymore. This cost Brendan his job, and a little of his reputation.
Before last night’s Europa League final the inane commentators told us, when discussing Klopp, that good managers can always improve players. This wasn’t meant to be a slight on Rodgers, but neither was it a deserved accolade for Klopp. Liverpool finished the season 8th in the league, lower than at any of Rodgers’ finishes.
Good managers can improve players, but only if they are taking over from less-effective managers. Klopp is one of the very best in the business, but Brendan Rodgers bettered him with the same team. He’s a manager at the absolute peak of our reach, it will be a remarkable appointment.
Usual caveats apply, until the lawyers have triplicate copies signed……