A FAREWELL TO BRENDAN RODGERS
With all the excitement of Klopp potentially coming in, deservedly so, I wanted to take a minute to send off Brendan Rodgers and give a brief reprieve of the countless Klopp articles this group has been inundated with over the past few days.
I began following Liverpool Football Club religiously in 2006. I would regularly make 1.5hr drives, 2.5hr train rides into the city at sunrise on weekend mornings to watch any match I could, often paying a cover to do so, at the 11th Street Bar in Manhattan.
When I moved to Atlanta for chiropractic school in 2007 I was very fortunate to have found a small group of supporters who gathered at the Brewhouse Cafe for Liverpool matches and I rarely missed one. I met some great people along the way and have fond memories of skipping everything the day of the Athens Final (when they were still on weekdays) to gather at Brewhouse with AC Milan fans who seemingly came out of nowhere but showed up in numbers.
Since moving back to NJ, I frequent Meehan's the 3 times a year I'm in Atlanta and watch with many members of this group. I've been to Anfield on 3 occasions, and watched the Reds in a number of different countries with supporters from all around the world.
The point of all of that is put into context what Brendan Rodgers gave me as a Liverpool supporter. I've seen miraculous FA Cup wins, Champions League finals, regular Champions League football, a 2nd place finish in the league, all prior to Brendan's arrival.
But never, ever, in my decade following this football club have I had more fun, and been more excited over a sporting event, than I was to watch Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool every weekend during the 2013-14 weekend. It wasn't just the fact that we were within a shout of the first title in my footballing lifetime, but it was the football we played. Every morning we woke up we knew we were going to get goals. We knew we were going to get exciting football. We knew we were likely to come home with 3 points. We knew we had a very good chance of witnessing a wondergoal. We knew we were watching one of the best footballers in the world on one of the best teams in the world at that time. We knew we would get a lethal counter attack for teams who came at us, or a moment of brilliance when teams tried to park the bus.
It's easy to point to Suarez being a top 3 player in the world at the time as the sole reason for our success, and he most certainly was that at the time, but the manager still deserves a ton of credit for getting the most out of him and playing a system that perfectly suited each individual player's style of play. It would have been easy to play a safer brand of football, but we went out to batter teams, and batter teams we did.
The rout of Arsenal comes to mind. I'm not sure we'll see a result like that again for a long time. It was one of the best 20+ minutes of football I can remember. Perfection personified.
Then came what would be come by single greatest moment of ecstasy as a Liverpool supporter to join the likes of the 12 minutes of Istanbul, Dudek's wonder save, and Gerrard's FA Cup equalizer from 40 yards. In the 78th minute of a hugely decisive match for the title race, Coutinho instinctively pounced on a Vincent Kompany mistake and buried the ball in the bottom right corner to give Liverpool a 3-2 lead. For the first time I truly dreamt. For the first time the title was ours. I had so much beer poured on me from complete strangers in a packed 11th Street Bar I'd been singing with since 5:30am that morning. I will never forget that goal for as long as I live.
The last 1 1/4 years of Brendan's reign have failed to live up to the incredible heights of that season, and really who could have. Since then he's seen a man who has lacked assurance in himself and his plan, all while putting on the face of a man totally self-assured in the public eye. From our transfers and how they were employed on the pitch, to the constantly changing tactics on the field, something seemed very off. I'm sure there was dissention behind on the scenes and a million other reasons for why things just didn't seem right. In the end, I think it was time for a new manager and a new challenge for Brendan.
But I will always remember Brendan Rodgers for that single season. The most fun I've ever had watching football in my entire life. Thank you for that Brendan and I truly wish you the very best with the next venture in your career. I know it too will be a successful one. YNWA
- Tim Warner