It all went a bit sour in the last 12 months of Brendan Rodgers’ reign.
Turgid football, plenty of excuses and pathetic digs about a bloke whitening his teeth and getting a tan.
But it wasn’t always like that. Once upon a time, we were all on a rollercoaster which kept on going up and up and up. Faster and faster. Better and better.
Take a minute to clear your mind. Now think about 2013/14. Go on, allow yourself the pleasure.
You’re smiling, aren’t you? Thinking of all the fun we had. There was plenty to go around, that’s for sure.
All the clever folk said that we needed play in a more pragmatic manner.
“It’s all well and good scoring loads of goals,” they said, “but Liverpool need to stop conceding.”
Did Rodgers listen? Did he heck.
I couldn’t care less that our defence was as flimsy as soggy Weetabix. We beat Norwich 5-1. We hit Spurs for five too. Then Stoke were on the end of a 5-3 hammering.
Everton next. Well, they were given a lesson in how to play football. 4-0.
Then league-leaders Arsenal came to town, but Liverpool couldn’t have cared less about their lofty position. The Reds were 4-0 up within 20 minutes. Once again, the day ended with a five-goal haul as the Gunners were well and truly gunned down in a glorious 5-1 victory.
The following three league games ended in 3-2, 4-3 and 3-0 victories.
Riding the crest of a wave, Liverpool swaggered into Old Trafford and emerged as 3-0 victors.
Not content with scoring fives, they then beat Cardiff 6-3.
Were we arsed that we couldn’t defend? I’m not even sure I gave it a second’s thought at the time to be honest.
Still the fun didn’t finish. We took our aggregate Spurs score to 9-0 with a 4-0 win at Anfield before Man City and Norwich conceded just three goals apiece to Liverpool. It was poetry in motion.
We all know what happened next at home to Chelsea, but then we went to Selhurst Park.
Rodgers has been slaughtered for his side not seeing out a three-goal lead at Palace, but can we not applaud the sheer temerity of his team for trying to score six, seven or eight that night? Had it not been for the 96 goals scored before then, we’d have never been in the position to challenge for the title. The doom-merchants had told everyone that is was over before kick-off, but Brendan’s tricky Reds made us dream one more time, even when it seemed impossible.
The 110 goals scored in 2013/14 weren’t simply celebrated with the pump of a fist or a shout of “come on”. They were so often celebrated with incredulous laughter. Luis Suarez’s audacious Norwich goal. Luis Suarez’s second audacious Norwich goal. Flanno’s ridiculous half-volley at Spurs. Daniel Sturridge’s cool, calm finish to make it 4-0 after 20 minutes against Arsenal. A goal every five minutes. We’d never seen the likes of this before.
And it wasn’t just the goals. There were so many moments besides. Suarez’s thunderbastard of a volley in the 5-1 win over Arsenal, for example. He practically assaulted the football. The wiggly arms – you can’t tell me you didn’t join in once or twice? Steven Gerrard whirling his shirt above his head at Fulham. The flares, the flags and the songs that greeted the team before they’d even got off the team bus in the final few home games.
This was made possible because of Rodgers. It wasn’t solely his doing, but he went a long way to putting on display the best brand of football I’ve seen in my lifetime. He made a group of players believe that they could create history.
Sure, that group of players included Suarez, Sturridge and Gerrard, but it also included Aly Cissokho at left-back and the unknown Jon Flanagan at right-back. Even Iago Aspas and Victor Moses joined in, albeit sporadically. Rodgers went a long way to helping Raheem Sterling to become a £49m player and coaxed Phil Coutinho on the way from erratic youngster to a magician who is now linked with Barcelona.
The wiggly arms – you can’t tell me you didn’t join in once or twice?
If you won’t take my word for it, take a look at what Suarez had to say about Rodgers a year after he left Liverpool: “He was very clever. He helped me with my runs, which benefited my confidence.
“I wasn’t proven and I had to adapt to the Premier League, which Brendan knew. He knows all about English football and he educated me to become successful.”
Ah, but Gerrard and Rodgers had a frosty relationship, didn’t they? Not according to this quote: “I wish I was 24. I wish I’d met Brendan when I was 24 because I think I’d be sitting here talking about a lot of titles that we’d won together.”
The hedonistic days of 2013/14 are a distant memory now and although results and performances since then have been dour, there were a few bright sparks to suggest Rodgers could turn it around.
Two semi-final appearances and a 13-game unbeaten run are not to be scoffed at, but Rodgers lost sense of his unwavering belief which brought such magnificent results. The Ulsterman stopped backing himself, which ultimately proved to be his downfall.
The decision to let him go is probably right, but Rodgers came closer than anyone in a generation to taking our team to within whiskers of the title, all the while playing the best football I’ve ever seen.
Thanks for making us dream. For that alone, I’ll be forever grateful.