Tim ‘Tactics’ Sherwood will be at the FA Cup Final in a few weeks’ time, while Steven Gerarrd, Brendan Rodgers and the anyone associated with the red half of Merseyside will be, if they can bring themselves to, watching on their TVs and thinking of what might have been.
The limp semi-final loss was the latest in a long line of high profile defeats for the Reds, who, had things been a little different about a year ago, would be champions of England, and may well still have Luis Suarez up front.
As ever, the buck stops with the manager, and Rodgers has to answer some serious questions. It’s now three trophy-less seasons at Anfield for the northern Irishman while Champions League football is, barring a miracle, off the menu for 2015/16, so could it be time for a serious change?
Perhaps, and here are FIVE reasons why…
Over the course of the last year to 18 months, Brendan Rodgers has lost the majority of the games that matter. Last season saw a depleted Chelsea arrive at Anfield to play for a draw with the campaign close to its end. All the Reds needed was a point to keep their Premier League title in their grasp, but, albeit via an unfortunate Steven Gerrard error, they slipped (sorry) to defeat and Manchester City surged on to lift the top prize.
Once is forgivable, but this term has thrown up two cup semi-finals for Liverpool, who have now choked on both occasions. Chelsea beat them in extra-time in the League Cup, and, of course, the Aston Villa episode is still fresh in the memory.
Add to that the losses at home to Manchester United and away to Arsenal, and the crunch games in the chase for top four action have been thrown away, too.
Surely this cannot be coincidence and Rodgers’ actions must be having an influence when the going gets really tough. Just look at Jose Mourinho, he rarely drops the matches that mean everything…
Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas, Dejan Lovren, Fabio Borini, Oussama Assaidi, Rickie Lambert, Nuri Sahin, Mario Balotelli… the list goes on.
Rodgers’ record in the transfer market is frankly abysmal. Only Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have been successes during his reign and although the transfer committee work together on deals, the Northern Irishman has a big say in the process.
It was telling at Wembley when, even though over £100m was spent during the summer, Lambert was Rodgers’ only real option to change the game late on. How long can Liverpool’s money men fund this madness?
3-4-2-1, 3-4-3, 4-5-1, 4-3-3… all of these were on show at times at Wembley on Sunday. In a desperate attempt to wrestle the game back within his team’s grasp, Rodgers shuffled his options to the point that the majority of his players appeared unsure of their actual tasks.
Okay, it’s good to be proactive, but the fact that this many alterations were ‘needed’ illustrates how out of line it was to revert to the 3-4-2-1 system, which had been producing negative results and performances in recent weeks.
Last season was much the same as Rodgers eventually settled on the 4-4-2 diamond set-up, which was rather enforced by Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez’s desire to play centrally. Although exciting, that set-up saw defensive frailties exposed and magnified.
Just gonna drop this picture of Klopp riding a Unicorn wielding a gun into Anfield, right here.. pic.twitter.com/hwmzIGdonp
— Gem (@therealgemvp) April 19, 2015
It’s not every day that top managers become available and it’s even rarer if they are open to picking your club… but Liverpool are in this very position with Jurgen Klopp.
The German will leave Dortmund at the end of the season after agreeing to cut his contract short and reports suggest that, although he would like to manage Manchester United, Liverpool are a side firmly in his crosshairs.
The outspoken boss would certainly bring a new lease of life to Anfield in a period in which the fans are growing frustrated, while his proven record at BVB – he’s had a budget akin to that of QPR – in which he’s won two Bundesliga titles and reached the Champions League Final shows he’s got pedigree.
Klopp has also nurtured youngsters such as Marco Reus, so he could potentially sway Raheem Sterling towards staying.
Sentiment and football tend to go hand-in-hand, but the FA Cup semi-final and Liverpool’s last major chance to do anything this season was surely a time to put it all aside to maximise the chance of getting the result.
However, albeit a Lucas injury has an influence, Gerrard was thrust back into the XI after letting his side down with an idiotic stamp at Manchester United, despite it being well known that at, 34, he’s simply too slow to function in a Rodgers team nowadays.
The narrative of one last shot at glory – the FA Cup Final is on his birthday – in his last game has been talked about, but, as much of a shame as it may be, there will be no fairytale ending to Gerrard’s journey at Anfield.