Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughSuccess or failure for Brendan Rodgers in his first year? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Success or failure for Brendan Rodgers in his first year? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Success or failure for Brendan Rodgers in his first year?

Brendan Rodgers’ much-heralded arrival at Anfield last summer was marketed as the return of Bill Shankly’s ghost by the more optimistic sections of the Liverpool support. Others saw him as the latest in a long line of managers good at working on a budget but unable to handle the pressures of a big club and the big chequebook that goes with it. Who was right?

Liverpool began the season with expectations of at least breaking into the top six, and who knows, perhaps without the added distraction of the Europa League campaign they may have made a more concerted effort. Many managers (I’m looking at you Alan Pardew) have bemoaned the competition’s workload-increasing woes, but to Rodgers’ credit, there was very little moaning going on, and some of the youngster’s, such as Andre Wisdom, got some much-needed match-winning experience.

Much criticism has gone Rodgers’ way for his handling of the £35m striker who occasionally answers to the name Andy Carroll. It is abundantly clear that the Geordie giant would not have been signed under the Northern Irishman’s watch, and perhaps Rodgers’ only crime was to be too soft, as we all sometimes can be. If West Ham were willing to buy Carroll outright he perhaps should have bitten the bullet, taken the hit, and started moving Liverpool forward. Instead, he was bundled out the loan door, with no replacement signed, and this undoubtedly proved a problem for Liverpool as they stumbled through the autumn heavily reliant on the admittedly frequent magic of Luis Suarez.

Secretly Rodgers probably realised his mistake, and the January addition of Daniel Sturridge added a much-needed pacey dimension to the already fast-coming-together passing merry-go-round of the midfield, built around the metronomic Joe Allen. The Brazilian Phillippe Coutinho was also a welcome creative reinforcement, as Steven Gerrard approaches his twilight years. Gone are the days of buying British just for the headlining-grabbing sake of it – Rodgers has a manifesto the likes of which his predecessor Kenny Dalglish can only dream of. The former King of the Kop must realise that his time has come and gone, and that Rodgers, if given time, will bring stability and good football back to Anfield.

Liverpool’s post-January form, while containing the odd aberration, Southampton away springing to mind, has been on an upward curve. If the season finished a month later, Europe could have been attainable. Next season it surely will be.

In answer to the original question, the truth probably lies somewhere in between, in a re-assuringly boring fashion. While Rodgers is no magic-wand-wielding ghost of Shankly, he is a man of more footballing substance than his critics give him credit for. Watch him prove that assessment correct next season.