There’s already been an article on this site about each Liverpool managers’ first 12 months, but how does that compare to their last season in the job? Let’s take a look…
Gérard Houllier (November 1998-May 2004)
Gerard Houllier’s reign didn’t get everyone associated with Liverpool pleased – Roy Evans was the first to walk out following cracks in the partnership, in late 1998, handing him sole charge. His first season was generally disappointing – marquee names such as Steve McManaman & Steve Harkness also announced their departure of the club, arguably killing the season. Liverpool finished 7th in his first season (1998/1999), their lowest finish for 5 years.
His last season proved to be a slight improvement, but was still foreshadowed as an inadequate choice for managerial structure going forward despite fulfilling the board’s pre-season objective of finishing in the top four in 2003/2004. Liverpool also failed to gain any silverware, and, embarrassingly, finished THIRTY points behind the champions (“Invincibles”) Arsenal, that year – this cost him his job.
Honours: Worthington Cup 2001, FA Cup 2001, UEFA Cup 2001, Charity Shield 2001, Worthington Cup 2003.
Rafa Benitez (May 2004-June 2010)
Rafael Benitez is a manager we’ll fondly remember for his first two – guiding Liverpool to their 6th Champions League final in May 2005 & AC Milan and completing a remarkable comeback, going onto win on penalties. His second also proved more successful in the league, finishing 3rd, just behind Manchester United, and winning the FA Cup against West Ham United, in which Steven Gerrard’s remarkable 90th minute strike denied West Ham the cup.
However, unfortunately, Benitez’s last season was very disappointing. What’ll surprise everyone is that this season followed from the 2008/2009 one, where Liverpool finished 2nd, four points behind the champions, Manchester United. But, despite, signing Alberto Aquilani for £18m and Glen Johnson as replacements for indispensable club legends Xabi Alonso and Sami Hyypia, the move in the market backfired – the Reds endured their worst run of form for 25 years, losing four games in a row. Boardroom problems conflicted with poor domestic and league form, forcing the beloved Spaniard out.
Honours: Champions League 2005, FA Cup 2006, Community Shield 2006.
Roy Hodgson (July 2010-January 2011)
He didn’t even last a season at Liverpool FC, his reign proved to be the most short-lived in the modern era; at one point Liverpool were staring down the abyss of the relegation zone, and fans were beginning to lose their patience. Only positive that came from his appointment was the removal of Tom Hicks and George Gillet owners of Liverpool in October 2010.
His signings were also didn’t even belong in a club of the stature Liverpool is – Paul Konchesky, Raul Meireles, Christian Poulsen & Milan Jovanovic were his most disastrous moves.
Kenny Dalglish (January 2011-June 2012)
By the time King Kenny stepped in as Liverpool boss, the club was in an utter mess, left by the Hodgson ruins. He was the only man that could lift Liverpool from its emerging crisis. It seemed that he was the right man for the job – famous victories against Manchester United saw Liverpool climb up the table rapidly to 6th. It also saw the signing of what proved to be an excellent recruitment (Luis Suarez).
However, his last (and only full) campaign was mixed. League form was far too inconsistent, there were careless defeats against teams that we should have beaten – the Reds hit the woodwork an astounding 33 times, finishing 8th in the Premier League, well off the pace. On the other hand, some may argue the Scot deserved more time in charge, as the team’s domestic form was highly successful – winning the League Cup against Cardiff City and almost made it an FA Cup too, but were denied by an Andy Caroll goal that was ruled not to cross the line. Whether or not he would have had more time to transfer the club’s good form in the Premier League, it proved to be a regretful last moment for Dalglish in his reign.
Honours: League Cup 2012
Brendan Rodgers (June 2012-October 2015)
His first season was average to say the least – the team made their worst start to the league for 50 years – the standard excuse being the lack of time given for young players & signings to gel into the side, but despite signs of improvement towards the end of the season, Rodgers would have been looking for more perhaps in his first season.
The last full season in charge was heavily disappointing. The season before Liverpool had made a brilliant push for their first title since 1990, finishing 2nd, agonisingly close. However, selling key players such as Luis Suarez proved to be the catalyst for a lacklustre start to the following campaign that saw the Reds make another poor start. They still had a chance realistically of top 4, thanks to an unbeaten run of form that stretched from late Christmas to late March, but the defeat against Manchester United at home proved to be the final nail in the coffin. Domestically, the Reds reached two semi-finals of cups they were in – causing fans to be disillusioned with the time taken for transition. He wasn’t appreciated by the fans particularly.
So, what can we say judging by each manager’s last season? Each of Liverpool’s managers’ last seasons’ have been poor! Let’s hope it differs under Jürgen Klopp.
Written by @SteLindellLFC