John Barnes believes Brendan Rodgers was done a “disservice” by Liverpool and would have achieved the same success as Jurgen Klopp given more time.
Rodgers came close to guiding the Reds to the Premier League title in 2014 but was sacked the following year before rebuilding his reputation with Celtic and current club Leicester.
Under his successor Klopp, the Merseyside club won the Champions League last season and hold an eight-point lead in the top flight as they seek a first domestic title in 30 years.
Former Liverpool midfielder Barnes feels Rodgers, whose Foxes side occupy second place in the table, was harshly treated at Anfield and paid a heavy price for losing the trust of supporters.
“Jurgen’s record wasn’t better than Brendan’s for the first two years, but because we trusted him and we believed in him, we allowed him to manage,” said Barnes, speaking to The Offside Rule Exclusives.
“We allowed him to drop (Daniel) Sturridge and (Mamadou) Sakho. Brendan would have wanted to do the same thing but he couldn’t because the fans didn’t trust him.
“You look at what a good manager Brendan is now, looking at Celtic, looking at Leicester. We did him a disservice.
“I’m glad that Jurgen is here but had we supported Brendan more, I’m very sure he could’ve done the same thing.”
Liverpool, who have reached successive Champions League finals under Klopp, finished second to Manchester City in the Premier League in the 2018-19 campaign, despite amassing 97 points.
Barnes, part of the last Liverpool side to win the title in 1990, thinks it is impossible for his former club to eclipse the achievements of last season, even if they are crowned champions.
“We won the Champions League last season, finished second and we lost one game. We cannot improve on that,” said Barnes, who represented the club from 1987 to 1997.
“If we win the league this year on 90 points, is that a better year than finishing second with 97 points?
“It is, in terms of us winning the league, but that would mean Manchester City underachieved and did worse. So that’s why I say last year cannot be beaten.
“Of course, I’ll be happy to win the league on 90 points this year, but I won’t say that this is a better season than last season, if we lose three games and win the league on 90 points.”
Barnes, 56, also claims Liverpool’s squad is no better than those belonging to struggling top-six rivals Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham.
Spurs have already sacked Mauricio Pochettino and replaced him with Jose Mourinho this season, while Gunners boss Unai Emery and United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are under pressure following poor starts.
“It’s an exciting time because we have now given Jurgen support. We trust him and we always have,” said Barnes.
“When you have that harmony and togetherness, the fans, the Liverpool family or football family, generally speaking, you can succeed.
“Liverpool haven’t got better players than Manchester United or Arsenal or Tottenham. What they have is more harmony, more belief, togetherness, and belief in the manager.”
:: Listen to the full interview with The Offside Side Rule Exclusives on Audioboom, https://audioboom.com/channel/theoffsiderule)