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Football Manager 2018 Experiment: What if Brendan Rodgers was LFC manager?

Cast your mind back to the year 2012, Liverpool hired a promising young manager by the name of Brendan Rodgers. His exploits in Wales had garnered a lot of attention, so much so that he replaced Liverpool legend, Kenny Dalglish, as manager and fans were excited.

Rodgers never really lived up to the high expectations placed on his shoulders by Reds fans, only managing one top four finish in three full seasons, crashing out of the Champions League in the group stage and not winning any silverware.

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That being said, he did lead the team so close to Premier League glory, until that moment.

Looking back, it’s clear a team consisting of Lazar Markovic, Mario Balotelli and Jose Enrique should not be anywhere near the top four. Maybe the fans expected too much from that squad or maybe Rodgers just wasn’t the calibre of manager necessary.

But how would the Northern Irishman fare with the current LFC squad?

Luckily we have Football Manager 2018 to help us find out.

The Beginning

Rodgers took over the job at the end of June 2017 and must have felt as though Klopp had left him with a more than capable squad as he made no signings. When he finally decided to splash the cash, he really splashed it, spending £100m on just three players who between them made just 31 appearances from January until the end of the season.

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  • Donny van de Beek (Ajax) £31.5m (£49m) – 7 appearances
  • Rodrigo (Valencia) £15.5m (£19.75m) – 10 appearances
  • Andrija Zivkovic £53m – 14 appearances

He only managed to offload Adam Bogdan, Danny Ward and Nathan Phillips for a combined fee of £4.7m. The only other outgoings were loans, including Rhian Brewster, Dominic Solanke and Ragnar Klavan.

Premier League

The Reds started the season well, losing just twice in the first 10 games, including victories against Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United. They found themselves in second place after their promising start but things quickly turned sour for them.

Rodgers side was unable to find any consistency throughout the season underlined by just four wins from their last 10 games. A particularly disappointing aspect of the season was the inability to beat Everton in either game, drawing both.

Final League Position: 6

Champions League

Perhaps the team could make up for a less than impressive showing in the league by performing in Europe?

After beating Young Boys in both legs of the playoff (something which Rodgers failed to do in real life), a group containing European heavyweights Barcelona would always be a challenge but Shakhtar Donetsk and Feyenoord were more than beatable.

The Reds first game back in European competition was a home win over Brad Jones and Feyenoord, before consecutive losses to Barca and Shakhtar left their qualification hopes in the balance. Answering straight back, Rodger’s men beat Shakhtar and Feyenoord, racking up nine points altogether, before another loss to Barcelona. Thankfully it was just enough to progress to the knockout stage, finishing level with Shakhtar but going through thanks to the head-to-head rule.

After managing to just scrape through a group containing one half of El Clasico, Rodgers was faced with the other half, Real Madrid, in the first knockout round. Although it went better for him than it did in real life, the Reds fell short. They won the first leg at home 2-1, before travelling to the Bernabeu where a feisty affair led to Gini Wijnaldum and Cristiano Ronaldo receiving their marching orders. Isco ended up scoring the extra time winner – 119th minute!

Final Cup Position: First Round

Rodger’s most used XI

FA Cup

Two competitions had passed Rodgers by and slipped through his fingers, how would he fare in domestic cup competitions?

A lot better actually. Although the Reds didn’t face many challenging opponents, the Merseyside club bossed their way to the semi-final by beating Gillingham, Walsall, Spurs and Brighton. They drew Chelsea in the semi and despite the fact that they beat them twice in the league, they couldn’t do it when it mattered – at Wembley.

Final Cup Position: Semi-final

Carabao Cup

Maybe, just maybe, one last saving grace for Rodgers in his return to Anfield?

After managing to scrape past Crystal Palace on penalties, Rodgers and his Reds crashed out in just the fourth round, losing to Spurs at home.

Not quite.

Final Cup Position: Fourth Round

Season Review

Rodgers clearly failed to utilise his squad, not one player managed over 20 goals in all competitions and his constant rotating hindered the squad more than Klopp’s has helped it. His signings were (surprise, surprise) ineffective and not even Salah, Firmino and Mane could help him.

Brendan Rodger’s last Liverpool game

Brendan Rodgers was sacked by Liverpool for the second time, once again after a disappointing draw in the Merseyside derby, just a day after the season’s end.

Liam Grimshaw
21, journalism graduate, avid LFC fan and aspiring writer.

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