Still regarded as one of the brightest young managers in the game, Brendan Rodgers is entering a crucial time as Liverpool manager. Do well in the coming season, and it could be the start of a lasting legacy at Anfield. Struggle again, and it will surely spell the end of his tenure on Merseyside.
Some will say he shouldn’t be in charge right now. A poor end to the season, topped off with a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Stoke on the final day, had even the most passionate Rodgers supporters struggling almost as much as the Liverpool defenders to try and defend the man.
The Luis Suarez hangover was obvious – after scoring over one hundred goals and finishing second in the Uruguayan’s last season, Liverpool struggled for firepower and finished 6th in 2015. Losing Daniel Sturridge for a lot of the season didn’t help either, as Rodgers’ attacking signings failed miserably.
Rickie Lambert made next to no impact, Mario Balotelli was a well-documented flop, and Divock Origi was loaned out. In the transfer market Rodgers has had something of a mixed time, with overspending on the likes of Fabio Borini and Joe Allen potentially being counteracted by coups such as the acquisition of James Milner on a free this summer.
Rodgers has also been unlucky in that Liverpool have become something of a selling club. Their top stars in the last few years have left. Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling both wanted to leave to move on to bigger and better things. Steven Gerrard decided to move on to a new challenge in America. Though it does have to be said, getting £15 million for Andy Carroll was a great achievement.
He did have a major rebuilding job on his hands when he first took over. In his first summer in charge, six players over the age of 30 left the club. His problem is, three years later, you would expect the vast majority of that job to be done, and for the club to be showing signs of progress. But last year was a very disappointing one, not just with the Stoke defeat, but losing to Crystal Palace again, and even only just scraping past Bolton via a replay in the FA Cup.
His continental record was just as disappointing as his domestic one. Liverpool was out-qualified in the Champions League by Basel, who while surprising English teams on a number of occasions recently shouldn’t have been finishing above Liverpool. Then, in the Europa League, Rodgers’ men fell at the first hurdle, going out on penalties to Besiktas.
So far this summer, Liverpool seem to have bought quite well. But the club, and Brendan Rodgers in particular need results. The addition of Christian Benteke took Liverpool’s spending under Rodgers to £277 million, and they need to start seeing results from that outlay. Rodgers has already become the first Liverpool manager in nearly 60 years not to win a trophy in his first three seasons. Another barren year would surely see patience run out.