Fans must remember how far LIverpool have come since Rodgers’ sacking


It is three years to the day since Liverpool sacked Brendan Rodgers. We must start with that fact in an attempt to apply some context about the club’s current situation.

This is not going to be a column that deconstructs Rodgers’ spell at Liverpool, by any means. But on October 4, 2015, the club – and the team – were miles away from being Champions League standard and that afternoon, Liverpool had grimly hung on at Goodison Park to save a point.

There was nothing in the opening months to quicken the pulse – one wretched memory is the penalty shootout that was needed to beat League Two side Carlisle at Anfield in the League Cup – and nothing to excite supporters. They had every reason, then, to complain.

Why bring this up? Here we are again on October 4 and some Liverpool supporters feel as though the world has ended. A 1-0 defeat by Napoli in the Champions League has sparked a return of what Rodgers called ‘the hysteria’; with Liverpool, it’s either boom or bust. There is no in between.

Liverpool, of course, were awful in Naples on Wednesday. Their attack was poor, the passing from midfield lacked alacrity and basic errors pockmarked the back four; Jurgen Klopp, who waved his arms more than an overworked tic-tac man during 90 wretched minutes, was rightly aghast.

But the reaction to the performance from certain areas of the fan base has defied belief. The list of criticisms aimed at Klopp included burning his players with an intense pre-season, showing too much loyalty to too many players and not giving others enough opportunities.

Other believe this is the 2002-2003 season in repeat. Gerard Houllier’s side were unbeaten in their first 12 Premier League matches and topped the table in November, having not hit top gear. They ended going 12 matches without a win and finished fifth, as their title challenge disintegrated.

Scrolling through the comments, you had to wonder what the same people were saying after the opening group stage win over Paris Saint-Germain or after Southampton were knocked over like skittles 12 days ago – 12 days! – to secure a sixth consecutive victory in the Premier League.

Clearly, the noise that erupted after Lorenzo Insigne’s last-gasp strike is not universal. There are, thankfully, many who can place such occurrences into perspective and recognise every season there will be one or two days when the team simply doesn’t function.

The concern, though, is that the reactionaries are drowning out rational ones. Towards the end of the Carabao Cup defeat by Chelsea, for instance, there were howls when passes never found their target and certain players bore the brunt. The overreaction was alarming.

If the majority of fans are now turning up at Anfield expecting Liverpool to win every match, scoring a bucket-load of goals without conceding any, there will be problems. No team will ever do that and no team can hope to thrive if the atmosphere and expectation becomes suffocating.

Yet this is Liverpool. This is what 29 years without the prize you most covet does to the soul; the obsession to see the team become champions of England once again has left people living in fear it will never happen. As such, they are unable to enjoy the ride.

And that is precisely what they should be doing: enjoying it. Klopp has his faults and not everything he does turns to gold but he has fashioned one of the best Liverpool teams since 1990, one that is committed to scoring goals, playing with style and making games fun.

True, there was nothing enjoyable about the performance in Naples but this is sport. These things happen. It is one hiccup at the start of what may be a long and successful campaign; nothing more, nothing less. How many other clubs would want to switch places with them?

Three years ago, Liverpool had to sack a manager; eight years ago, they lost at home to Blackpool and slid into the relegation zone. Those are the moments when you understand the outpouring of emotion and frustration: not after a solitary defeat in one of Europe’s most hostile arenas.

On the day Rotherham visited Goodison Park in the Carabao Cup second round, this column argued why it should be regarded as one of the biggest games of Everton’s season.

The competition has been wretched for Everton down the years but new campaigns bring fresh opportunities and we put forward the notion that there could not be a better competition for Marco Silva to endear himself to supporters.

He wants to manage Everton in Europe and a successful League Cup campaign would have secured that ambition – not to mention ending what seems an eternal wait for the first silverware since 1995.

The events of Tuesday night, then, should be regarded as an embarrassment. Silva had no need to gamble by making so many changes to his team for Southampton’s visit. He knew Liverpool and Manchester United were out of the tournament and a path had opened up.

Do some of the men who were left out, such as Jordan Pickford, Theo Walcott and Richarlison, really need to be rested in the first week of October? It was a nonsense; an unnecessary gamble that has backfired and punctured optimism.

When managers make calls of that size but see them fail to come off, they know they must atone immediately. Silva must mastermind a big win at Leicester this weekend, then, and the venue is symbolic. Deep down, Silva will know Everton should have been going there again later this month.

The goal Cenk Tosun scored against Fulham was long overdue and much needed. The Turkey striker has taken it to heart that he has failed to get on the scoresheet and told Sportsmail last month that droughts in front of goal leave him wanting not to leave his house.

He is a popular figure at Finch Farm and has struck up a rapport with many of the long-serving backroom staff, who have been teaching him to speak with a Scouse twang. It is hoped his back-post header will be the first of many.



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