Jurgen Klopp to Liverpool? Why Reds should not sack Brendan Rodgers
The non-selection of Steven Gerrard against Manchester United in the Premier League a month ago has been a recurring stick with which to beat Brendan Rodgers.
As the wreckage of Liverpool's semi-final failure against Aston Villa is sieved Gerrard, this time his selection, has become the blunt instrument with which to batter Rodgers once more.
Rodgers can’t have been wrong twice, surely. The criticism of Rodgers was universal after the defeat to United. In the great football chatroom before the Villa loss there was still incredulity at his failure to recognise the unique contribution Gerrard might have made had he started at Anfield against the red beast from Manchester.
His passion, commitment, leadership and experience was therefore a must to ensure Liverpool contest the FA Cup Final on Gerrard’s birthday on what would be his last engagement for the club. We now know the merit of that argument but no admission of muddled thinking so far from those advocating his inclusion.
The impulse to chase Rodgers out of Anfield in favour of this month’s winning ticket, Jürgen Klopp, demonstrates the short termism that infects the football landscape. There are a few in this arena who would have had Louis Van Gaal out of Old Trafford by Christmas. Rodgers might have been voted out twice this season already had the knee-jerkers any influence.
Think back to December when the club sat 10th after the defeat to United at Old Trafford. Who would have thought then they would not lose again until the corresponding fixture at Anfield three months later?
The climb up the table was a triumph of coaching. Liverpool have arguably hit heights greater than any during that spell when Sturridge returned, Raheem Sterling rediscovered his mojo and Philippe Coutinho his shooting boots.
Rodgers had achieved the impossible in that period, absorbing the loss of Luis Suarez, arguably the finest striker at large in the game today, and remoulding a faltering squad into a winning team by tearing up the template and starting again with three at the back.
The loss to United at Anfield was a result few saw coming. The rout at Arsenal might be seen as a reaction to that, though for a spell in the first half at the Emirates Liverpool had the ball on a string.
Sterling picks up the shisha pipe and then Liverpool run out of gas against Villa. All of a sudden the disappointment of a potless season feeds into a mad reflex in some quarters to dump the coach.
Rodgers reacted to the limp display yesterday by hooking Lazar Markovic at half-time and playing his joker, Mario Balotelli. It didn’t work, but he gave it a go. The truth is the Liverpool squad is not as deep as those of their rivals for the Champions League.
Rodgers certainly needs a better summer than he had last year in the transfer market, but then he won’t have to replace a genius up front at short notice with a maverick who might have come off but hasn’t.
If the long-term cultivation of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad does not bear fruit, it is thought Manchester City would go for Rodgers. And they would be right.