Brendan Rodgers’ time as Liverpool manager, of late, was a symptom of bigger problems: ideas, but not answers; potential, but no certainty; journeys, but no arrivals. The final chapter of his reign had taken on the same feeling of Roy Hodgson’s short, ill-fated stay with Liverpool, where you knew a good coach roamed Anfield’s technical area just as much as you knew something was amiss, and for the best of both parties, a changed needed to happen. Hodgson found his salvation at West Brom, where there never seemed to be any doubt as to whether he’d succeed, just as Rodgers’ thin confidence might seem to have gravitas were he at a Fulham, Birmingham City, or even Newcastle. Now that he’s been sacked, Rodgers can find another home, where he can be a hero instead of a target.
Rodgers is, without a doubt, a good coach on some level, but Liverpool’s a level that can still draw bigger names. And as long as a name like Jurgen Klopp remains in the conversation, and with reporters like The Guardian’s Rafael Honigstein confirming the former Borussia Dortmund boss’s interest, Rodgers’ potential for progress doesn’t matter. Now that there’s been a change at Anfield, the door is open for a manager of Klopp’s caliber.
That Klopp appears to better than Rodgers should be beyond debate, but around Premier League circles, the obvious sometimes gets obscured. This is, after all, an environment that steadfastly believes that Spain is still a two-team league (it’s not), or that the circuit they watch still offers the highest quality soccer in the world (it doesn’t). In much the same way, Klopp has been tainted by ignorance, with too many people focusing on a 2014-15 season where Borussia Dortmund largely out-performed their record. Constantly out-shooting and creating more good chances than their opponents, BVB’s slow start was tied up in variance, bad luck, and yes, diminished performances, but as the last five months of their season showed, they were still capable of being their old, dangerous selves.
The slide, however, allowed for a convenient breaking point. Klopp had been at Signal Iduna Park for seven years – far longer than most managers should stay in their jobs. He’d taken the team from one with some history and infrequent results to a club that repeatedly toppled Germany’s giant. Dortmund became more than the type of well-run, strongly supported team that inhabits Bundesliga clichés. It became a continental force.