Brendan Rodgers’ return to Reading last week with Liverpool was a frustrating 0-0 draw, in a game that made more headlines for the traveling supporters’ admonishment of Margaret Thatcher than any action on the pitch.
With five games to go in the season, Liverpool sit in seventh place in the Premier League – one spot behind Everton, eight points out of the Champions League spots, and 27 points behind leaders Manchester United. Liverpool were retired in the Round of 32 in the Europa League, the fourth round of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Rodger’s former club Swansea City, and most embarrassingly, the fourth round of the FA Cup at the hands of League One side Oldham Athletic.
Yet the consensus around Anfield is that Liverpool have made substantial progress this season. The consensus is that Rodgers knows what he’s doing, his slick-playing system is working, and the return of the club to Europe’s elite isn’t so far off.
The question is, why such sunny attitudes?
Last season, Liverpool were perceived to have hit rock bottom. The club’s 2011-2012 campaign was apparently bad enough to get club icon Kenny Dalglish sacked without much, if any backlash from fans. Judging from the vibe around the club comparing this season to last for Liverpool, it would seem that the two season’s were eons apart in quality and results.
Yet Liverpool’s ’11-’12 hasn’t been so much different than their ’12-’13. Yes, Liverpool’s league play has improved, but they’ve only made small gains in points, and failed to jump a single team in the table except Newcastle United, who have graciously removed themselves from Premier League relevance this year. While Rodgers has improved Liverpool’s attack, both in style and substance, the Reds’ defense has suffered.
Rodgers’ Liverpool flopped out of three cup competitions, and turned Being: Liverpool into Being: Inconsistent, while Dalglish led Liverpool to their first silverware for half a decade by winning the League Cup, and Dalglish also took Liverpool to the FA Cup Final, unluckily succumbing to eventual Champions League victors Chelsea.
For thrills, excitement, three trips to Wembley, sentiment, and stability, Dalglish would have been a good bet to keep his job. But he was sacked without much ado. King Kenny may have been forgiven for his side’s disastrous play in the 2012 calendar year, but when the poor league campaign was combined with Dalglish’s wildly extravagant transfer dealings – all of which backfired – Dalglish was dismissed.