Euphoria was high. A young vibrant coach, from the school of Mourinho Man Management, along side a few other managers in Europe, joins in the tide of apparent change. A new generation of managers to succeed the old guard at clubs of reputations mimicking crumbling empires that hold sway the believe of capturing past glories. Coming up as runner-ups were always held in disdain for these reputations, flag bearers will only want to expect on winning the league, nothing less. But holding all, supporters and neutrals alike, in bated breath in excitement of pulling a miracle to win the league until the last day of the season,..perhaps that was slightly different. Especially if pitted against the new uber rich clubs of oil money, and with a loyal supporter-base united in their long 2 decade wait, this feat made Kopites all over the world dream again. And we gleefully lapped it all up, laughing at how comical Moyes and United were at the same time.
Euphoria was high, too high that it blindsided everyone, the chief victim of it all was the manager himself. Brendan Rodgers had looked himself in the mirror, new teeth perfectly straight and white, his figure no more rotund, a dashing handsome middle aged man, in his peak of his career. And nothing could go wrong. The only way to top it all off was to win the damn league and the figure of his reflection in that mirror would be etched forever amongst legends, maybe even a statue next to Shankly’s.
But there were those before him that faltered, fell off the wagon and could never get back again. Houllier and Rafa reached the same peaks of 2nd, and never could regain those heights with Liverpool ever again. With trophies of European conquests, of local knock-out competitions, both their times while struggling to build on the myth of momentum were afforded by the loyals. But alas, the sands in their hourglasses whispered the winds of change. History is still harsh, and lessons were to be learned by the current manager. However, his backroom staff slapped his back hard, as he slapped theirs harder. They were no more considered mediocre. Euphoria was high, too high still.
The bite legitimized the sale of Suarez to Barcelona, as his Uruguay underwhelmed in the World Cup. His long international ban was as impactful of an absence as his sale in itself. In other words, even if he wasn’t sold, he was of no use to momentum. The hefty credit in the accounts meant it made more sense to cash in and strengthen the squad, bolstering it with players of the Coutinho-Sturridge template. Speed and tenacity, a markedly distinct personality of the team with Suarez, required technical ball playing intelligent players, unafraid to make fools of players in front of them, bamboozling them at will. And so, the Committee were given a mandate, with ample time, and more so ample funds, to identify these players who can carry the weight of the Red jersey. Without our talismanic mad genius, worries crept in, but we had a manager who could manage. Euphoria dissipated slowly but optimism was high.
When the whistle blew to end our final friendly with Dortmund, the manager declares that the team’s brain was ticking fine, the young Brazilian producing a little magic, but lethargy from travel and full 90 minutes in as many friendlies showed in him. New faces in the squad looked fresh with excitement, their manager’s aura to make them make Suarez a distant memory was shining brightly. But murmurs that some of these new faces were deemed relevant for the success of the squad because of blips of success in the very same league that Liverpool played the season before made some cause for concern. This made them known quantities, with weaknesses predictable for exploit, without X-factors. Euphoria remained, optimism remained but the murmurs got louder.
The cold winds of December now howl of discontent. The new faces fron August now look weary, the weight of expectations too much for some to bear. Once announced indirectly as the reincarnation of Shankly, soft scowls to replace him remind many of Hodgson. Speed and tenacity now a mere reminiscence from seasons past, the manager’s 15 games now stubbornly dogged with a laboring style, epitomized by a lone striker in all games. The mandate for the Committee months before clearly not fulfilled than ever before as last season’s intensity and intelligence to shock and awe now but a dream. The euphoria at the end of last season made dismissing the loss of Suarez a lot easier to swallow because we were never a one-man team according to Rodgers. But we were a two-man attacking machine. Bemoaning the injury of Sturridge doesn’t exactly reap any benefits from hindsight because he was injury prone evidently in the previous couple of seasons. Finding apt replacements for these 2 speed demons wasn’t impossible given the mandate so early in the summer transfer window. The committee, with Rodgers now having more veto power built on the euphoria, chose the wrong replacements, with the murmurs before the season started now a self fulfilling prophecy bearing fruit.
Euphoria, a double edged sword, exposed the naivety of Rodgers in believing the hype of last season, in believing his own hype. With the euphoria now all but gone, Rodgers faces a test that has already branded him and his decisions as a failure even before he has had the time to learn from it. His predecessors of the past had trophies won, but he has none to hark back to for more time. He only has the memory of the euphoria.