In commemoration of AnfieldIndex’s 5-year anniversary, this piece celebrates such a feat by highlighting the season-defining moments pertaining to Liverpool – the football club that the website is based on – over the last 5 years. This spans out from the beginning of the 2010/2011 season up until the 2014/2015 season.
Just as a disclaimer, these are all personal opinions and as such, the choices will definitely vary from person to person and therefore, it should be made clear that the choices made for the moments of each season will not be everyone’s cup of tea.
2010/2011, All That’s Left Was Steven
The start of the 2010/2011 season was definitely a weird one for Liverpool fans. The saying goes, “an eye for an eye”, but in this case, it was “an ‘R’ for an ‘R’ – a Roy for a Rafa. The club then witnessed the return of club legend, Kenny Dalglish, in a managerial role January of 2011. However, the season was not defined by the players coming in, but rather, those going out. Two pivotal pieces of the 2008/2009 squad which saw the Reds finish second in the Premier League left the club within a six-month time-frame.
On top of the fact that Fernando Torres left on bitter terms, his farewell was not fully-remediated despite the arrival of a soon-to-be world-class player in a certain Uruguayan. The thought of having a Torres-Suarez partnership being an almost reality became a bigger blow than his departure itself. This was the lesser of two evils however, due to the fact that Javier Mascherano left before the season started, but was hardly replaced by the club (even to this day). His ability to break up opposing attacks and assaults has been a huge problem for the club ever since, let alone for the 2010/2011 season itself.
Coupled with Xabi Alonso’s departure prior to this, the core midfield and the striking partnership that saw immense success had been degraded, with only Steven Gerrard left to reminisce the missing pieces.
2011/2012, Number ‘8’s We’d Dig and Delve
As King Kenny was appointed as a full-time manager for the Merseyside club, all was seen to be great for the club. A brand new start after what was deemed to be a failure of a season was just what Liverpool fans needed, but a recurring element to the 2011/2012 season was the number ‘8’.
The season saw the ever-infamous incident pertaining to Luis Suarez being the accused; his racial slurs towards Manchester United’s Patrice Evra resulted in an 8-match ban in the Premier League. This was followed by t-shirts displaying messages in support of Luis Suarez, which ultimately fuelled more flames rather than being a damage-control measure. Off the pitch, the club’s PR was under fire; not a good time for Liverpool fans whatsoever.
Fast-forward a few months – Liverpool won the then-called Carling Cup for a record-setting eighth time, being the first piece of silverware since the FA Cup in 2006, highlighted by Steven Gerrard’s two crackerjacks in the final versus West Ham United.
Despite the Carling Cup being a less-respected domestic trophy, any trophy would’ve been well-received by the club, given its state at that point in time. This was because the club eventually finished the league campaign with a horrendous placing in the table – eighth place – and without the Carling Cup, the Reds would not have been eligible to qualify for the Europa League in the following season.
Coincidentally or not, one of, if not the most iconic players to ever don the #8 kit, Steven Gerrard, had a part in all of the above scenarios. He scored a worldly free-kick to give the Reds a 1-0 lead against their sworn rivals in the match where Luis Suarez was accused of his slurs, he missed more than half of league games due to injury which left the side depleted of quality players, and the Carling Cup, in hindsight, would be the last ever trophy he would win with Liverpool FC.
The number 8 defined the 2011/2012 season, for better or for worse.
2012/2013, Death by Football and a Jolly January Scene
Without a doubt, this particular season was defined by the new manager who arrived at the club to replace Kenny Dalglish. Labelled as an up-and-coming, philosophical manager, Brendan Rodgers left the club he helped to propel into the Premier League, Swansea City, to join a fallen dynasty.
However, the phrase that took Liverpool by storm was “Tiki-taka” and “Death by Football”, two styles of play that Brendan Rodgers preached in his early interviews. Stats became a major aspect of discussing points – passing accuracy and possession %, in particular. Players like Joe Allen became renowned for fitting into Rodgers’s philosophy while others like Steven Gerrard were blasted because “Hollywood” passes didn’t always contribute to such stats.
The January acquisitions were one of Liverpool’s best in recent years, snapping up two magnificent players in Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, at bargain prices. This led to a whopping 21-goal tally between the two and Luis Suarez, whose brilliance started to shine – scoring 23 goals in all competitions that season.
This was indeed the beginning of something spectacular for Liverpool (and also the beginning of yet another ban for Luis Suarez, for yet another infamous bite on a player).
2013/2014, Of Diamonds, Blowouts, and Attacking Adrenaline
The ever grand 13/14 season – easily Brendan Rodgers’s best season ever as a manager, with arguably some of the best football any Liverpool fan has seen, and undeniably the closest we’ve ever gotten to that first Premier League title. The butterfly effect played a huge part here – without playing two strikers up-top and supplying support by way of a diamond midfield, Liverpool would probably never have been in the position to sweep almost every team in the league.
A subtle, yet effective switch to a more well-suited formation with the correct roles for each of the players in it was the season-defining moment. The brilliance of Luis Suarez in a striker’s role, but with the freedom to play instinctively brought out the best in everyone else. The enhanced performance levels led to one of the most entertaining brands of football seen across the globe.
And of course with entertaining football, blowouts tend to follow. Since the turn of the New Year, Liverpool won 11 games and scored 3 goals or more in the process, contributing to 19 games in such fashion, in total. This happened with the help of Luis Suarez of course, scoring 31 league goals out of more than a 100 by the club.
Sure, we could point to several negatives throughout the season, including Liverpool not winning the league, but why do so when you can highlight the effectiveness of the newly-found formation, the blitzkrieg-style of football, the brilliance of a world-class player like Luis Suarez, and some really, REALLY great games?
2014/2015, Out Goes the Blowouts, In Comes the ‘Just-Wins’
“New is always better”; the 2014/2015 season proves nothing but the total opposite of that. The early heartbreak by way of Luis Suarez’s departure and Daniel Sturridge’s lengthy absence due to injuries set the tone for most of the campaign. As a team reshuffle was necessary due to the Reds losing out on two key components from the preceding season, the overall performance definitely suffered, up until the (in)famous switch to a back-three by Brendan Rodgers which saw Liverpool lose by 3 goals to Manchester United.
This was the turning point (sort of) for the Reds: the 3-4-2-1 formation with a box-midfield. Soon after, a 13-game unbeaten streak gave the fans some hope of Top 4 once again. At face value, the gung-ho style of football didn’t leave the building; the majesty of 13/14 hadn’t died out yet; the tactical genius that is Brendan Rodgers continues his streak; Luis Suarez who?! But take a closer look at the results and you’ll notice that what were undeniable wins became scrapped ones, and what were scrapped wins are now lucky draws.
Low and behold, something did give way and Liverpool suffered from some of the worst losses ever, including the 6-1 loss to Stoke in the last game of the season. If anything defined the entire campaign, it definitely has to be the divide among fans during that unbeaten streak – the “results are all that matters” versus the “wins mean nothing long-term without good, consistent performance”. So while the unbeaten streak instilled some hope and belief, it was also a wake-up call; maybe 13/14 was a fluke.
This was also the final season for Steven Gerrard remaining as a Red; gone but never forgotten.
(Happy 5th birthday, Anfield Index!)
Have a listen to our two special podcasts featuring John Barnes!