Brendan Rodgers' sacking was met mostly with relief by the Liverpool support. Predictably, and rather depressingly, this was not reflected by a good many of the good old British press, pundits, ex-players and others involved in the sport. Why the disparity?
On paper, the decision can appear a harsh one. Rodgers almost won Liverpool's first league title in a quarter of a century, then lost his two star strikers, proceeded to finish sixth, lost the legendary captain plus another prodigious talent, and was afforded just eight games of the 2015-16 season to try and turn things around. This is probably why a lot of pundits and other commentators criticise the sacking. It is however telling that those who study Liverpool much more closely tend to sympathise with the decision. The only exception being a handful of former players who are still stuck in the 1980s when managers were disposed of far less readily.
For most of us who were pleased to see the back of Rodgers, the reasons couldn't be more clear. Football is not played on paper and the negativity towards him does not come bluntly from the league positions in which we found ourselves post-Suarez. It is because, since the mercurial Uruguayan left Anfield, Rodgers has made bad decision after bad, baffling decision. Every idea poor, every turn taken wrong. He only has himself to blame for his departure. Frankly, he was afforded more time than most clubs would have given him.
His power struggles with the committee were borne out of a terrible arrogance that he thought he was capable not only of doing the day-to-day coaching of a club aiming to reach the very top, but additionally to be able to scout the entire global football market and make all transfer decisions alone. No one man can do all of this; it is why every single elite club operates a committee and/or director of football model. Indeed it was telling that Rodgers' scouting was so limited that all of the signings he wanted came from the Premier League- i.e. the only league in the world that he was sufficiently familiar with to make transfer decisions about. An elite club must scout all leagues, not just one. Everybody could see how ludicrous Rodgers' transfer plans were, except Rodgers himself. To consider that Rodgers' signings- the ones he handpicked himself anyway- came entirely from the likes of Southampton, Swansea, Burnley and Aston Villa, it is no surprise that Rodgers was struggling badly to keep Liverpool trading blows with the top four.
The contrast is stark when you see that, contrarily, the signings of the committee came from the likes of PSG, Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, Benfica, Sevilla and Inter Milan. Is it not obvious which is the way to go? Would you rather have the ability to sign players from an array of top clubs from an array of different European leagues, or direct your focus entirely at mid-table clubs in England? It is baffling that Rodgers never assuaged to the superiority of the committee in transfer matters.
But this isn't where it ended with Rodgers. Not only did he steadfastly insist that Liverpool continue to pay exorbitant fees for the likes of Dejan Lovren, Joe Allen, Adam Lallana and Christian Benteke (the four of them costing the club £92.5m- does the team look anywhere near £92.5m better off with those four in the XI? How much would you recoup for them now?), but he played petty politics with the signings brought in by the committee. He was literally forced by the owners to bring the likes of Can, Markovic and Moreno into the team, having previously not given any of them a proper chance, but even then, he played them all out of position- damaging their burgeoning reputations when they invariably produced sub-par performances. Something Rodgers was clearly on course to repeat this season as he underused and misused the likes of Divock Origi and, most alarmingly, Roberto Firmino- a player of real quality, but another that Rodgers didn't want. The longer Rodgers stayed, the clearer it became that he had either no eye for talent or no interest in it. Far too obsessed was he with 'character,' 'experience,' 'being a leader,' 'being vocal.' All intangible tat, baseless rhetoric that clutters football but lacking in any evidence whatsoever for it's virtues on the pitch. Rodgers was happy to watch young talents deteriorate so that he could continue to play his three-star purchases from Southampton.
Had Brendan Rodgers stayed, Origi and Firmino would have failed. Sakho would have been driven out of the club and Markovic would be sold on at a huge loss. Despite working with Sterling and Ibe, players who were well on their way to making it into the first team before Rodgers even arrived, he showed no clear ability- despite his own assertions to the contrary- that he was going to develop any of the talented youngsters in our Academy. Any young player brought in under his tenure- Luis Alberto, Lazar Markovic, Fabio Borini, Samed Yesil, Tiago Ilori, Javier Manquillo and latterly, Divock Origi- were given such insufficient game time, particularly in their natural positions, that they were never going to develop. All of these players came with growing reputations that took a heavy beating under Brendan. Sure, the odds are that not all of them will make it- but none? Rodgers did not know what to do with young players. He washed his hands of them, decided he 'didn't fancy them,' and that was that.
Rodgers' dismantling of the squad, petty politics with the committee, and love affair with average Premier League players just because he thought they had 'character' or 'experience' was threatening to run this team into obscurity.
It is with no small sigh of relief therefore, that the owners acted. Happily observing that Rodgers was making this squad look much worse than it was, they have installed a manager who does not play the power game, who relishes the challenge of developing young players, who accepts that he needs a committee's help to identify transfer targets. The hope is that Liverpool have acted just in time, and that Klopp and can stop Brendan's rot.
As for Brendan, he needs to buck up his ideas and fast. He aspires to a 1000+ game managerial career, but if he refuses to acknowledge his own managerial limitations, you can be certain that Liverpool Football Club will be the best that he will ever do.