Everyone around the club could feel it coming. Brendan Rodgers, the manager who had taken us closer to the long-sought Premier League crown than any other, had lost his magic touch. Sure, there were mitigating factors, but the squad were showing classic signs of giving up on the embattled boss. After the club decided to stick with Rodgers over the summer, he needed to show something special to convince FSG to keep him around for much longer. When the dire brand of football continued from the previous season, it became a question of “when?” not “if?” Rodgers would be shown the door.
After 8 league games and an equal number of goals scored, the Reds limped out of Goodison Park with a disappointing 1-1 draw, relinquishing their rare lead after a mere 4 minutes. The club were already mired in the middle of the pack in 10th place, with a -2 goal differential, and 6 points back of Manchester City.
Rodgers barely had time to conduct post match interviews before news broke that he was on the way out. Thierry Henry and Jamie Carragher shared a tender moment, and Liverpool fans everywhere felt a wave of intense and conflicting emotions—everything from relief to concern—over the past, present, and future of the football club.
We were equally shocked and concerned at TLO Towers. My response in the email chain was, “Wow. A) I wasn't expecting it tonight. B) Fair play. C) I hope they have a great replacement lined up.”
To point “C”: boy did they ever. Sure, we joked throughout the summer about Jürgen Norbert Klopp, the maestro of the gegenpress, seeming to flirt with Liverpool. But few of us, myself very much included, really expected him to come. But come he did.
Following the sacking of Rodgers, the club put out the statement, “The search for a new manager is underway and we hope to make an appointment in a decisive and timely manner.”
The following days seemed to go by in a blur. It quickly became apparent that Klopp was our first, possibly only choice to be Liverpool’s new boss. The excitement surrounding his arrival was something I’ve never experienced as a Liverpool fan. We even obsessively tracked his plane. The charm offensive started immediately, and never really abated. He wanted us to go from doubters to believers. We did, but he also gave us a reason to believe. We never really improved our league position, but we did go to two cup finals. And we were back to playing exciting, attacking football.
One year later, we have 16 points after 7 games, instead of 10 after 8. We’re in 4th place, 2 points back of the leaders, instead of 10th. We have scored 18 goals instead of 8. Indeed, we’ve scored more goals since his arrival than any other club. Granted, we’ve given up the same number of goals, 10, so there is clearly still work to be done.
Jürgen Klopp might not want any celebrations after (nearly) one year on the job. No, in his mind there’s nothing to celebrate yet. It doesn’t happen often, but I’m sorry to say he’s wrong. Liverpool Football Club is exciting to watch, and has a bright future under his steely gaze. And we firmly believe there will be more and tangible things to celebrate in the near future. We are no longer doubters.