Brendan Rodgers’ reign as Liverpool manager is over. The 42-year-old was sacked by the club’s owner, Fenway Sports Group, an hour after a 1-1 draw against Merseyside rivals Everton extended Liverpool’s poor run to one win in nine matches.
Rodgers was informed his tenure of three years and four months had been terminated in a phone call from the FSG president, Mike Gordon. The Liverpoolmanager had left Goodison Park separately to the team bus when the call arrived and Ian Ayre, the club’s chief executive, met the Northern Irishman at Melwood training ground to explain the decision in person.
Jürgen Klopp, the former title-winning coach of Borussia Dortmund, and the three-times Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti are in the frame to replace him. However, despite claims Klopp has already agreed a three-year contract with Liverpool’s owner, FSG has not approached the charismatic German coach yet but are expected to in the coming days.
FSG intends to use the international break to meet its favoured candidates and will go through a formal process before appointing Rodgers’ successor. Liverpool’s owners have also to finalise a compensation package with the former Swansea City manager, who had almost three years remaining on the lucrative contract he signed in May 2014 having guided the club to within a win of their first league title in 24 years.
Rodgers indicated the end of his tenure was close in his post-match press conference at Goodison. When asked whether he was encouraged that Liverpool’s players were still clearly playing for their manager he issued an impassioned defence of his reign, but also warned the club faced a lengthy rebuilding job, “whether that is with me or someone else in the job”.
Those words proved to be prophetic, or showed the manager had prior knowledge of his impending departure. Liverpool released a statement in the early evening announcing that Rodgers had gone.
A joint statement issued by the principal owner, John W Henry, the chairman, Tom Werner, and Gordon read: “We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Brendan Rodgers for the significant contribution he has made to the club and express our gratitude for his hard work and commitment. All of us have experienced some wonderful moments with Brendan as manager and we are confident he will enjoy a long career in the game.
“Although this has been a difficult decision, we believe it provides us with the best opportunity for success on the pitch. Ambition and winning are at the heart of what we want to bring to Liverpool and we believe this change gives us the best opportunity to deliver it. The search for a new manager is under way and we hope to make an appointment in a decisive and timely manner.”
Rodgers has been under constant pressure since the end of last season when Liverpool suffered their heaviest defeat in more than half a century in a 6-1 reverse at Stoke City. That defeat followed a poor season domestically and in Europe, but it was Rodgers’ assistant, Colin Pascoe, and first-team coach, Mike Marsh, who initially paid the price while the manager continued.
He remained part of the transfer committee that spent a further £80m on seven new first-team players this summer, bringing the total invested in players since Rodgers arrived from Swansea City in 2012 to almost £300m. Liverpool’s return on FSG’s investment has been poor, although Rodgers was initially given time to repair the team’s fortunes having lost key players such as Luis Suárez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling in the past 15 months.
Rodgers’ team have struggled since March and their only win in the past nine matches was against Aston Villa eight days ago, excluding a Capital One Cup penalty shootout victory over League Two Carlisle United. This season Liverpool have won three of 11 games in all competitions, an identical sequence to their final 11 matches of last season when defeat by Manchester United on 22 March sent Rodgers’ side into the slide that cost the manager his job. Liverpool were booed off in three of their past four home matches, although Anfield did not turn openly on their former manager.
His newly appointed back-room team of Sean O’Driscoll, Gary McAllister and Pepijn Lijnders remain while the club begin the process of finding their next manager.