Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers started the season needing to prove that the end of the last one and, in particular, a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Stoke City wasn't a fair reflection of where he'd led the club after three seasons in charge. He was given unexpectedly strong backing by the club's owners, free reign in the transfer market, and money to spend.
So far, he's failed to do anything with that. It may only be five games into the new campaign, but it's five games given context by a 2014-15 season so disappointing it used up any good will and trust the manager had earned over his first two years at the club. It may only be five games, but it's five games along with a significant summer spend more than Kenny Dalglish or Rafa Benitez ever got.
Both men found themselves finished at the club after just one poor season, and many fans rightly complained they should have been given more time. Rodgers has been given a summer—a summer where he was allowed to buy his first choice, £32.5M striker to solve Liverpool's scoring woes when Daniel Sturridge was on the sidelines—a pre-season, and now a miserable opening five games.
A miserable opening five games where nothing meaningful appears to have changed. Where the team still can't score or defend, and where bar a wonder-strike in the opener and a wrongly called goal in each direction—one for Liverpool allowed and one for Bournemouth disallowed—he would likely have overseen a winless start to the campaign. It's been dire football and middling results.
One has to at times wonder what he's actually done to deserve it. There is no man bigger than Liverpool Football Club, but Kenny Dalglish comes close. There is, rightly, no living Red held in higher esteem by the fans. And there is no more successful manager at the club in the Premier League era than Rafa Benitez. Nobody has a better win rate, and certainly nobody else has won the Champions League.
Dalglish gave himself over to the club and its fanbase in a time of great pain and need and will never be forgotten for it. Benitez fought his own owners to ensure the continued existence of the club at a time when Liverpool could easily have become another Leeds. Rodgers, on the other hand, has promise. In year four. For that and nothing especially tangible he appears to have been given the time they were not.
Barring an absolute miracle turnaround, it appears he has wasted it. After the backing he got from Fenway Sports Group over the summer, though, with the club appearing to pass on the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti, it seems unlikely he will be fired this week. Multiple journalists with sources inside the club believe he remains just this side of safe. But it's hard to see a way back.
Unless Liverpool lose their next four matches, at this point it's difficult to see anyone but Rodgers being in charge come October, but it's clear he is on borrowed time. There is no patience left for poor football and middling results on the back of the kind of support and spend he has been given—the kind of support and spend no other modern Liverpool manager could even dream of getting.
In the past, Liverpool have perhaps given too little time to managers who have proven far more and done far more for the club than Rodgers has. When the axe falls on him—and at this point it appears almost certainly a question of when, not if—he can have few complaints. He was given a fourth year and backed to the hilt by the owners despite never having won anything, at Liverpool or anywhere else.
He has been given the chance that Kenny Dalglish and Rafa Benitez never were, and so far he has completely and utterly wasted it. He may get until October or November or even December, but it feels, increasingly, like a foregone conclusion. It feels like it did when Liverpool fans were waiting out the final days of Roy Hodgson's miserable tenure. It feels like Brendan Rodgers' time is up.
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