Brendan Rodgers has struggled to match the feats from last season, when he followed a patchy summer transfer window to lead Liverpool's most convincing title challenge for around 25 years. By the end of last season, Rodgers was heralded as a talented manager who Liverpool could rely on to guide the club with attacking principles, earnestness, and an admirable commitment to promoting young talent. Liverpool fans no longer had to grumble about not seeing a talented youth player being given a chance in the first team. Liverpool fans could proudly watch teams come to Anfield fearful of being turned over as rival fans, neutrals, and observers remark on the club's fearsome attack. Liverpool looked like they were back.
After a summer transfer window, where this writer proudly claimed that Liverpool wouldn't suffer like Tottenham Hotspur did when Gareth Bale was sold to Real Madrid, disarray reigned as Merseyside's finest made their worst start to a league season since 1964. Luis Suárez maybe was just as vital to Liverpool as Bale was to Spurs, spending over £100 million meant that Liverpool probably should have done a lot better than floundering before a belated revival (perhaps not challenging for a title Brendan with a greater net spend than Spurs), and the rest of the season's story is still fresh, or stale rather, in our minds.
The future for Brendan Rodgers seems uncertain with the meeting scheduled for the end of the season, but the manager has three years left on his contract so would be an expensive change for FSG to make. There is a feeling that parallels exist with the end of Kenny Dalglish's second tenure at the club: a silent hierarchy, failing to finish in the top four, and a worrying dip at the tail end of the season. Clutching at straws or studied prescience? Rodgers, however, seems confident and stated that he was "150 per cent" certain that the ownership would back him. Evolve. Assess. Review. Hope. Experience. These were the words Rodgers used to state that this season can be one where Liverpool can learn from and progress next season under his leadership where "we have been clear with the identity of how we want to play since I've been here", and so 2014/15 will be part of a plan that will continue, hopefully in a successful manner.
It is very clear in terms how the model works here. That doesn't change. That doesn't change. There are constant questions asked of me in terms of strategy and the model.You have to remember the owners have had great success in terms of working and how they want to work. Everyone here is aligned to that and have that belief in what they've brought to the club. For us it is really analysing this year in terms of all the plans, all the changes that took place last year, review that, how can we be better equipped to move forward and challenge. That will be the review. There is probably a lot more made of that than what it actually is. I'm constantly reviewing with the owners. There is nothing different. People want to write about a review, there have been a number of reviews. Throughout the season I've had great communication with the owners. I'll speak with them at the end of the season like I did last year, like I did at the end of my first year, and like I've done intermittent throughout the season. There is no great big review.
This strategy, according to Paul Joyce of the Daily Express, will include Christian Benteke, Danny Ings, James Milner, and Divock Origi. Rodgers says he is more more than completely sure he will be around next season, but why would he say anything else? He doesn't have the full backing of fans who are extremely disappointed with managerial decisions, results, and a failure to achieve Champions League football. There can be sense in replacing Brendan Rodgers with a better manager, if available, to push Liverpool further under a more coherent and convincing transfer strategy. However, last season didn't happen without Rodgers' heavy involvement. He has shown some real talent as a manager, of that there is no doubt, but if he does stay, next season will be pivotal.
For me, that title challenge buys Rodgers a season, and 2014/15 is the season where the credit in the bank counted. By the end of next season, there'll be no doubt whether Rodgers can do the job or not, but this summer will be instrumental in helping the manager do that. Four years will be a lot of time for a manager to show what he can do, and over the past three seasons, Rodgers has shown that he can do the job with the right tools but will make mistakes. Sealing fifth at Stoke City comes before talks where restructuring will be needed for improvements to be made, but next season it's time for graduation.
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