This time last season, at the end of a pulsating campaign, Liverpool and Steven Gerrard were cursing their luck following a slip that undid a season’s worth of exceptionally hard work.
One game away from the title, Liverpool ceded to Manchester City in the cruellest way possible; but, despite this, the future was regarded as bright at Anfield.
Fast forward a year, and the Reds have regressed spectacularly. Shorn of their talisman Luis Suarez, they have lost Steven Gerrard, face the prospect of losing bright young talent Raheem Sterling and have finished sixth in the Premier League; 25 points off top spot. It’s been a hell of a year.
As if this regression was not enough, the final game of the season was a shambolic 6-1 defeat at the hands of Stoke City; a club who (with all due respect) are quite some distance away from Liverpool in terms of quality.
The question is: what now?
There will be fans with a variety of different opinions on that front, but one thing is clear, manager Brendan Rodgers’ job looks decidedly less safe than at any other time in the last 12 months. With his side imploding in spectacular fashion, the buck must stop with the young manager, and the question will now be whether he is the man to take them forward.
This might sound dramatic, but the reality is that Rodgers has performed so disappointingly this year in all facets that his job really does need to be scrutinised more closely.
The way he has dealt with the Gerrard situation has left a lot to be desired, but his part in the Sterling saga can also not be ignored. And that’s before we even get to the ‘on the field’ matters. Rodgers’ side simply hasn’t looked the same without the sparkle of Suarez and Sturridge and the fact of the matter is that Rodgers is the man paid a lot of money to make that side look good. If it doesn’t, it’s his fault.
There will be plenty of people pleading for time for Rodgers, and those people are well within their rights to do so, but for me, the way forward is clear. If Liverpool have genuine ambition, Rodgers is not the right man to take them forward. This is not a slight on the manager, who looks promising and has some refreshingly different ideas.
Instead, it is purely a recognition of the fact that in football management terms, Rodgers is a young buck. He doesn’t possess the tactical acumen or man management skills of a Mourinho, a Wenger, an Ancelotti.
And nor should he – after all, he hasn’t been in this game for that long. But the fact is that for a club like Liverpool, they need a manager who can be mentioned in the same breath as those men; their legacy demands it. Right now, Rodgers is not that man and if they really want to move forward quickly, this summer is the right time to recruit a new man.