On June 1st 2012 Brendan Rodgers arrived at Liverpool with a 3 year plan to get Liverpool Football Club back into the Champions League within 3 years. 2 years into the plan Anfield will entertain Ludogorets in the first round of Champions’ League group stage fixtures on September 16th.
But how has Rodgers achieved this? We start by heading back to 2012/2013. After inheriting a squad from King Kenny including the likes of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll, players who not only commanded high transfer fees but were on high wages from an inept previous ownership regime.
The 11/12 Squad
(Squads are comprised of any player who played a competitive game for Liverpool in any competition that season. Wages & Transfer fees are a rough estimate only, based on media reports)
The 2011/2012 squad cost a total of roughly £180,000,000, Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez and Stewart Downing being the most expensive players in the squad after being signed for £35,000,000 £22,500,000 and £20,000,000 respectively. Weekly wages for the squad were around the £1,300,000 per week mark.
Details of the 2011/2012 squad breakdown can be found in the table below.
Rodgers was quick to remove some of the dead wood from the side shipping out Alberto Aquliani on a permanent basis after countless loan spells, Charlie Adam and finally Joe Cole in the January transfer window.
Rodgers first transfer window is regarded as rather unsucessful in terms of in comings, signing Joe Allen, Fabio Borini and Oussama Assaidi for a combined £27,000,000. The biggest grumblings came from his decision to let record signing Andy Carroll go out on loan without sourcing a replacement, ‘Plan B’ as it became known.
After the summer transfer window has closed Liverpools squad cost a total of 150,000,000 with a wage bill of £1.23 million per week. The January signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho for a combined £20,500,000 pushed the squad tranfer cost to £171 million with the only first team departure being Joe Cole leaving for West Ham meaning that the wage bill only rose by £70,000 to £1.3 million per week.
Liverpool has deployed a 4-4-2 for the majoirty of the games under Dalglish. The graphic below shows Liverpool most played XI from the 11/12 season.
Brendan Rodgers arrived from Swansea with a new system. A tika-taka 4-3-3 meaning more opporutnities for central midfielders and less for strikers hence his decision to see Andy Carroll as unneeded (as well him not being very good) Steven Gerrard had suffered a few injury striken seasons but Rodgers manged to get 46 games out of the Liverpool captain in 12/13 and he has barely missed a game through injury since Rodgers took over (touch wood) Below is a graphic of Liverpool side who lost 2-1 away to Spurs in the first half of the 12/13 season
Pepe Reina kept the number 1 spot for the 12/13 season, with Brad Jones as the backup following the mystery departure of Doni, a suspect heart attack meant he dropped down to the Brazilian 5th division. Peter Gulasci was called up from the reserves to serve as third choice keeper for the reds.
Glen Johnson stayed fit for the majority of the 12/13 season playing 36 games, 13 more than he managed in the previous season. This paired with the rise of Andre Wisdom meant that Martin Kelly only made 7 starts compared to the 20 he had made in the previous season. Danial Agger and Martin Skrtel had brilliant seasons in 11/12 and were both linked with moves away from Anfield in Rodgers first summer, however both players remained at Melwood and started the season as Liverpool’s centre back pariing. They did not have the same success as the aforementioned season which lead to Jamie Carragher forcing his way back in the side for the 2nd half of the season. Jose Enrique was left as Liverpool’s solitary left back option after Fabio Aurelio left the club for a 2nd time, keeping spot for 35 games (despite playing some of those at leeft wing with Stewart Downing at left back.)
Given Rodgers choice to play 3 central midfielders more opportunity was provided to the likes of Lucas, Allen and Shelvey particularly with Liverpool in Europa League action meaning Thursday and Sunday games became the norm.
Jordan Henderson now a key player in the Liverpool side only started 29 of the 44 games he played that season, most of them coming towards the end of the campaign as he really began to make a name for himself as a permanent fixture in Rodgers Liverpool. Lucas began his comeback from injury starting 27 games over the season however his injury had left him short of a yard of pace something which to this day he’s never got back. Joe Allen became a key player in implementing the new system having played under Rodgers at Swansea. Stewart Downing was deployed as far up the pitch as left wing and as far back as left back during the course of the season performing consistently at around 6/10 per game, nothing terrible but far from good enough for Champions League football. Phillippe Coutinho arrived in January and added some much need flair to the midfield, hailed as the ‘key master’ by some for his ability to thread a pass through the opposition normally finding Suarez or Sturridge.
Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini were Liverpool’s only recognised strikers after the summer transfer window shut and despite scoring on his debut against FC Gomel and showing signs of good movement and positioning Fabio Borini could not find the back of the net on a consistent basis. Whilst Raheem Sterling’s breakthrough into the side gave Liverpool fans something to be excited about. 12/13 Raheem Sterling showed sigs of a brilliant but raw talent with the potential to go anywhere however his decision making in front of goal still had to be worked on.
Therefore the goalscoring batton was picked up by Luis Suarez who nearly doubled his tally from the previous season and became the first Liverpool player to score 30 goals in a season since Fernando Torres in 07/08. Daniel Sturridge arrived to release some of the burden on Suarez and got off to a brilliant start becoming the first player since Ray Kennedy in 1974 to score a goal in his first 3 Liverpool games.
The graphic below shows the Liverpool team beat Swansea 5-0 at Anfield in February 2013 both January addition played in the game and certainly made Liverpool’s starting XI look a lot more threatening rather than replying on a 17 year old Raheem Sterling who by this time looked burnt out and spent the majority of the rest of the campaign on the bench.
Liverpool finished the season in 7th place, some fans saw this as a failure most of those had a vendetta against “Brentan Fraudgers” since his arrival in June branding him as a ‘fraud’ due to his lack of trophies. FSG were keen to give Rodgers time and hoped he would achieve his goal of being back in the Champions League within 3 years. The table below shows Liverpool squad at the end of 12/13, keep a look out for Part 2 of this series where the Brendan Rodgers Revolution continues.