Tottenham had just finished teaching world football the year prior that you can’t replace a transcendent player like Gareth Bale with a bunch of squad players. Yet in 2014, after Barcelona came for Liverpool’s talisman in Luis Suarez, the 2014-15 Reds somehow managed to field a forward line made up of Rickie Lambert (bless him), The Mario Balotelli Experience™ and Daniel Sturridge’s Crutches.
It is common knowledge—or at least one hopes that it is by now—that the last thing you want to do when discussing the post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from something as horrible as the 2014-15 Liverpool season is to rip the scab off without having a replacement bandage handy.
However, Brendan Rodgers, the overseer of that lowest of the low periods in recent Liverpool memory (and, to be fair, that highest of highs the season prior), does not agree with this line of thinking. Rather, it would appear that the outstandingly verbose Ulsterman instead subscribes to the controversial Prolonged Exposure school of thought that holds, according to the US office of Veteran Affairs, that “talking with your provider about your negative thoughts and doing short writing assignments,” is one of the best methods of dealing with trauma.
Off to the comments section then, you lot. We’ll wait while you vent.
The specific wound the now-Celtic manager decided to re-open recently in an interview with one of those newspapers you use to clean up after your dog (don’t give ‘em your click) was regarding Liverpool’s failed attempt that fateful summer to get as close to a like-for-like El Pistelero replacement as one could find in Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez.
"We felt like Luis was going to move on and we needed to get a world-class operator to go like-for-like," he said. "We finished second in the league playing a great level of football.
"Players were flexible in how they could play and then it was about trying to make that next step. And for that we needed to get a replacement. And we deemed Sanchez to be that one."
Chuffed, the infamous transfer committee moved on and settled for that shudder-inducing band of misfits from earlier. That failure to replace a once-in-a-generation talent like Suarez made the 6th place finish that term a less of a disappointment than a foregone conclusion. With the other half of that awe-inspiring SAS strike partnership in Sturridge proceeding to take up residence on the physio’s table for the rest of the season, the resulting abortive domestic and international campaigns were so catastrophic, it even made Steven Gerrard hang up the shirt with Rodgers following not long after.
Who knows what would’ve been had Sanchez instead chosen to join what had been set to be an inevitable Liverpool return to prominence? Would Arsenal have imploded sooner without Sanchez to save them time and again? Would Jürgen Klopp, coming off his managerial sabbatical, have taken the reigns at the dark side? Would Roberto Firmino still be playing right wingback? We’ll never know, shall we?