Liverpool in the Premier League era have seen limited success, the biggest of which was the miraculous Champion’s League victory in Istanbul with Rafa Benitez at the helm.
I say we have seen limited success because it’s more than we would like to believe. We have seen great players to periods of time where we regularly finished in the holy grail of The Top 4 and, on occasion, challenged for the big one: The Premier League title itself.
My sole focus will be on our managers, so there will be little mention of our wonderful superstar players, if at all.
There is no doubting the ability and calibre of our managers in the Premier League, where we started with Graeme Souness, who now, on a regular basis can freely vent his frustrations regarding the current Liverpool team. During his time in the Premier League as manager, he finished 6th and 8th, nowhere near the Premier League title.
Following Souness was Roy Evans, who was the first manager to get back to back top 4 finishes for Liverpool across 4 seasons, finishing 4th, 3rd, 4th and 3rd again. Roy was a terrific personality and a good manager, one I was too young to appreciate at the time. Good finishes, and bringing consistent finishes in the Premier League, but still, no title.
The following season saw a partnership managerial setup between Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier, which due to many disagreements between the 2, stemming from player selection preferences, led to a poor season for Liverpool, and by Roy Evans leaving, essentially having had enough of the partnership. This was during a time when the Premier League was getting a continental flavour I believe was the phrase that was coined, and Liverpool went the same direction with Houllier, who at the time, I know personally I had not known anything about, though I was only 10/11 years old at the time!
Houllier as the sole manager again provided some consistency, aside from the 03/04 season where Liverpool finished 5th. He did however achieve Liverpool’s first 2nd place finish in his 3rd season in charge (01/02), and many saw this as a chance to truly progress and perhaps achieve the Premier League title. This wasn’t to be, when a 5th and 4th place finish followed, after substantial investment in signings that really didn’t deliver, he departed the club. Close, but no cigar.
His first season wasn’t the best in the Premier League at all, in fact finishing 1 place lower than Houllier’s last season in charge. However, you have to majorly offset this with the incredible Champion’s League campaign that didn’t start too well either, with unconvincing victories to perceived lower quality teams.
We all know how that ended. The Istanbul final. 3-0 down at half time, looking like we were going to be embarrassed, badly. The heroics to come back to 3-3 and win on penalties against an AC Milan team that was so so strong, was unbelievable, and leaves all of us reds with a memory we will never, ever forget.
In the next 4 seasons, we finished 3rd, 3rd, 4th and 2nd, being pipped to the title by Manchester United by 4 points. This, during a time of constant battle between Benitez and our then American owners, Hicks and Gillett.
The 09/10 season was a modern lowpoint for Liverpool, and of course us as fans. We finished 7th, our lowest finish in the league since 98/99. This led to Benitez’s departure and an era of uncertainty began. An era that still lingers to this day.
I will never forget what Roy Hodgson brought to us during his brief stint at Liverpool. It reminds me now that no matter how bad things look, they could be so much worse: we used to be managed by Roy Hodgson.
Kenny Dalglish took over and brought us Luis Suarez. He also brought us Andy Carroll but let’s forget about that for one second (forever…). I didn’t know who Suarez was, but it didn’t take too long to for him to show us who he was, a controversial figure, but also a world class player.
King Kenny didn’t improve our league form however, finishing 6th and 8th during his time in charge, and while we did win our last trophy under his leadership, which also got us in the Europa League for the next season, he was to be replaced by a younger manager, who displayed a great style of football at Swansea.
Brendan Rodgers brought me personally one of my favourite seasons of football as a Liverpool fan I’ve ever seen. Our attacking play, with Suarez and Sturridge in particular in scintillating form for almost the whole season, was wonderful. Our defensive woes cost us though, as they continue to cost us now.
We were so close, so very, very close. But again, no cigar. During Rodgers time, we finished 7th, 2nd and 6th. During his 4th season, he was not allowed to complete the season, being replaced by a super charismatic German.
Jurgen Klopp. While we as a club were looking like a rudderless ship, with constant injuries to our strikers, to our defenders, the future looked bleak. When Rodgers was sacked following a 1-1 draw with Everton, at the time, Ancelotti was available as well. Klopp was on a hiatus as far as I knew, and thought he would be out of the question. When it emerged that Klopp had signed with Liverpool and delivered a press conference I’ll never forget, where we were told to turn from doubters to believers, I got goosebumps. We know his method takes time, it takes massive energy from the players too. He will squeeze every bit of energy from the players, and wants the same from the fans.
He brings us some brilliant football. The game against Dortmund in the Europa League will be another memory I won’t forget. The miraculous 4th place finish last season. We were exceptionally lucky.
We find ourselves at a cross-road again now. I personally want Jurgen Klopp to continue as our manager. Some of the Liverpool fanbase want him gone. I believe he needs time and investment. There have always been times when Liverpool have done well and then we fall, fall down the table and we get itchy feet. We allow the media to manipulate our views of our manager and sometimes fuel the talk for a change of manager.
My point of writing this article was this: to display that each of our managers have had some form of success, but have also failed in some ways, which then leads to their departure. As a Liverpool fan, you really know how it feels when it’s time for a change: the wheels are coming off, everything feels wrong, players don’t play well consistently, and the whole fanbase turns against the manager.
This has not happened yet with Jurgen Klopp. Until it does, we need to keep the faith. We need to believe we can turn this current situation around. We will not win the Premier League title this season. But if we follow the trends of years gone by and get rid of a manager after a poor season, history will repeat itself and we will get no nearer to our ultimate goal, the Premier League Title.
Do you agree with these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!