In this third instalment, we pick up from the successful 2013/2014 season where Rodgers Reds finished second in the league.
The Leicester City game is fast approaching and the battle for third place is on the line. Here at LFCTR, we explore the impact Brendan Rodgers had as his time as Liverpool boss.
Rodgers Review: 2014/2015 Season
Following a wonderful season in terms of performances and points accumulation from the 2013/14 season, hopes were high at Liverpool to do one better. To finally win the holy grail: the Premier League title.
Liverpool fans were also keen for Rodgers to taste silverware at Liverpool for the first time to cement his growing legacy. This was the season where Liverpool would establish themselves as the elite team in England.
It was a busy summer for Liverpool in terms of transfers which saw the departure of superstar Luis Suarez to Barcelona for a record £65m. Liverpool would go on and use that money to bring in 10 new arrivals. Surely it wouldn’t be long until the club ended their barren run?
However, The Reds only managed to accumulate 26 points from a possible opening 57, equalling their worst start in the league in 50 years. They found themselves in 8th place at Christmas. Maybe net spend isn’t always the answer…
Champions League Fairing
To make the season more memorable (not in a good way) is the fact that Liverpool bowed out in the Champions League group stage, a competition they had not been part of since the 08/09 season. Real Madrid and Basel finish above Liverpool after The Reds only managed one win in the group stage, beating Ludogorets 2-1.
In a fixture where Liverpool simply had to win against Real Madrid, Rodgers opted to leave Gerrard, Sterling and Henderson on the bench. Liverpool would go on to lose the match 1-0.
It was a bold and brutal move from Rodgers and Gerrard would later to go on say he knew his time was up at Liverpool and was devastated by the realisation.
By coming third in the CL group stage Liverpool automatically qualified for the Europa League last 32, but ultimately lost to Besiktas on penalties after a 1-1 draw on aggregate. The first knockout round in the competition.
“I am the same guy who nearly won us the league, but better. I think I have shown in the early stages of my management – without being arrogant – that with a talented group of players I can compete at the top end of the league.”Brendan Rodgers on his development at LFC
More Success in Domestic Cups
Liverpool found more success in the FA Cup than in previous years but lost in the semi-finals 2-1 to Aston Villa. They also reached the semi-finals in the League Cup, but lost to Chelsea on aggregate 2-1.
Liverpool would eventually end the domestic season in 6th position, winning 18 games, losing 12 and scoring only 52 goals. Rodgers certainly found this season much harder when having to balance his squad in terms of Champions League football and competing in two longer runs in the domestic cups.
It was a season that originally offered so much hope to Liverpool fans, but ended with disappointment, especially since Liverpool were unable to achieve CL qualification in the final league standings.
Liverpool found themselves spending a whopping £117m in the summer window, recruiting 10 new players. The amount of incomings also added to the hype and expectation that this was the year, Liverpool were back.
Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi, Alberto Moreno and deadline day signing Mario Balotelli all joined the club.
Whilst Emre Can made an impact over his time at LFC before leaving on a free transfer, the stand-out names are obviously Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Divock Origi. All three of these signings made by Rodgers would go on to win the Champions League in 2019 and then the Premier League in 2020.
Lallana would go on to be a favourite with the players and fans on Merseyside. The Englishman would find his best ever form on the pitch under Jurgen Klopp, who hailed Lallana as one of his best and most important players in the first season of his reign in 2015.
Lallana would continue to be an important player for Liverpool up until his move to Brighton. Fans will always welcome him back to Anfield and it was a joy to see him conquer Europe and England after such a hard time with injuries which hampered his career.
Ones for the Future
Divock Origi will always be known for battering Barcelona and completing the 4-0 comeback and will forever be a cult hero to Reds fans. Who can of course forget, that Champions League night in Madrid…
There have been calls lately for the current Liverpool side to have an overhaul of sorts, but this is a fine example of why you can’t do it all in one go. With ten new players in the team it is a struggle for any manager to integrate those signings with the existing and current players. Just ask Frank Lampard!
“I always say a squad is like a good meal. I’m not a great cook, but a good meal takes a wee bit of time. But also, to offer a good meal you need good ingredients.”Rodgers on building a squad
The balance of the Liverpool team was never quite there. It seemed with a plethora of new ‘talent’ to choose from Rodgers didn’t know his best team or starting XI. Taking a look at Rodgers’ most selected XI, there was no stand out forward who played regularly in the 2014/15 season.
The scouting at the Reds has been much better in terms of transfers in recent years. You don’t have to look back too far in to the past to see how far the scouting network has come under Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool find themselves, not only with a very good transfer record since 2015 but with a team of Edwards, Klopp and Dave Fallows you know that whoever signs, they will impact the current squad.
Perhaps this £117m spent by Rodgers and his team highlights to FSG and Edwards etc. now, that success is built, not bought.
Outgoings saw some big names leave Liverpool, with Pepe Reina, Luis Suarez and Danny Agger the main players on the move. Connor Coady would also make his move to Wolves for £500k where he is now club captain. Martin Kelly, Oussama Aissaidi and Suso also saw the exit door (although the latter two didn’t leave until the winter window).
Rodgers Most Selected XI
GK: Simon Mignolet
DEF: Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno
MID: Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Emre Can , Phil Coutinho, Adam Lallana
In terms of goalscorers, captain marvel Steven Gerrard was the club’s highest scorer with 13 in all competitions, followed by Raheem Sterling (11) and Philippe Coutinho (eight).
Daniel Sturridge found himself in an injury ravaged season and only started 12 games. Sturridge was still the highest goal scorer in terms of a striker, scoring six times. The most game time for a Liverpool striker was Mario Ballotelli with 14 starts but found the net only 4 times. Summer signing Rickie Lambert scored three times in 34 total appearances (11 starts).
There is no denying Rodgers missed his star duo of Suarez and Sturridge in this testing season. Perhaps the squad felt like a transition period again after so many players came into the team.
Either way this was not a great season for Rodgers in terms of league standing. It is a testament to how far Liverpool have come in present times when considering our absolute minimum expectations is top four.
Back in these years, top for was hailed as a great success, and not one that happened consistently!
The Beginning of the End for Rodgers
It was also the season where a Stoke City team beat the Reds 6-1 in May, in what would be Steven Gerrard’s last goal for his beloved Reds.
Liverpool did record some decent results along the way, beating Manchester City 2-1 for example, but once more failed to beat their rivals in Everton and Manchester United in the league.
It was a season of disappointment for Liverpool after such a successful one in the previous year. It was to be Rodgers final full season at Anfield. Steven Gerrard also announced his intentions to leave the club after 17 years and gave an emotional farewell to the Anfield faithful.
Losing a player of Gerrard’s quality was almost unforgivable. Gerrard was still the Reds top goalscorer in this season and could have certainly played his role well in the coming seasons.
Whilst the appeal of America may have called upon the Liverpool legend, I can’t help but wonder how effective he could have been under Jurgen Klopp just 6 months later.
Jurgen Klopp would come in to replace Rodgers in 2015, but we have another story to tell before that.
For the final time: to be continued…