Liverpool’s banter era spanned five years and three managers, with just one League Cup trophy the only crumb of comfort for Reds fans mourning the temporary death of their club under a barrage of humiliation from rival fans.
It all began at the end of the 2009/10 season when Rafa Benitez left the club after six years in charge. Liverpool had finished seventh that year, but it was about to get far worse for the Merseysiders.
Former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson took the reigns after Benitez in July 2010, unsurprisingly to very little fanfare, and Liverpool underwent their worst ever start to a Premier League season. The Reds were sitting in 18th place after six matches and, after a loss to Blackpool in October, Hodgson claimed that the club were not too big for a relegation battle.
Charlie Adam scored a penalty for Blackpool in that game and in peak banter era mode, Liverpool decided to sign the Scotsman two years later, presumably without checking if he was actually able to run around a football pitch first.
When Hodgson was inevitably sacked in January 2011, club legend Kenny Dalglish was appointed for his second spell in charge of the club, a full 20 years after his first stint had ended.
Although the 2011/12 season ended with a poor 8th-place finish in the Premier League, King Kenny did guide Liverpool to two Cup finals at Wembley and ended a six-year trophy drought by winning the League Cup.
That was as good as things would get for the Liverpool hero though and he was replaced by Brendan Rodgers in the summer of 2012.
Rodgers led the Reds to a surprise title challenge in 2013/14, but his side headed by Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez fell at the final hurdle, ending the season in second place despite scoring 101 goals – the third-highest in Premier League history.
On the 4th October 2015, Rodgers was eventually sacked after a torrid few weeks and the banter years were finally brought to an end with the appointment of Jurgen Klopp. However, the difficult years weren’t solely the fault of the various managers. Some of the players that were recruited during this era were positively stealing a living and often made you wonder whether Liverpool were even bothering to employ scouts.
Milan Jovanović, Danny Wilson, Sebastián Coates, Oussama Assaidi, Aly Cissokho – the names still send a shudder down the spine of any Liverpool fan.
Here at Football FanCast though, we’ve taken a look at some of those who were meant to be the marquee signings of the time, but often ended up with less of a Liverpool career than Coates somehow managed to carve for himself.
Liverpool certainly didn’t just start making mistakes in the transfer market during the banter years, they had been doing that consistently for a while, but Aquilani was perhaps the first of the truly terrible years and there is no doubt that the Italian was a major flop on Merseyside.
The £17m paid in those days represented a huge fee for the central midfielder from Roma and during his first season with Rafa still in charge he showed glimpses of reasonable form. However, the appointment of Hodgson seemed to completely derail Aquilani and he somehow spent time with Italian giants Juventus and AC Milan before completing a permanent move to Fiorentina on a free.
Most fans of the Premier League will remember Konchesky as a firmly mid-table footballer. However, the left-back had only recently played in the Europa League final for Fulham when he signed for Liverpool in the summer window of 2010, following new boss Hogdson in making the journey up north. The injury he suffered on his debut may have been a premonition for the bad times to come at Liverpool though.
Konchesky publicly apologised for letting Aaron Lennon score a last minute winner at White Hart Lane and if being done by Lennon wasn’t bad enough, another low point came a month later when Konchesky was sarcastically cheered by Reds fans when he was substituted off in an Anfield defeat to Wolves. The nightmare ended for the Englishman after just half a season as he was loaned to Forest when Dalglish took the top job in January 2011.
Perhaps the most infamous overpayment in the history of Premier League transfers. Liverpool and Dalglish panicked on deadline day in January 2011 when Fernando Torres was sold to Chelsea for £50m and threw £35m at Mike Ashley for 6ft 4in Newcastle striker Andy Carroll, who had only just burst onto the scene at St James’ Park.
The fee made Carroll the most expensive British player in history at the time but injuries hampered his time at Anfield and the Geordie managed just 11 goals in 58 appearances in one and a half seasons at the club, before being loaned and eventually sold to West Ham. Thankfully, the Reds did save face slightly by also buying Luis Suarez on the same deadline day as Carroll (for almost £13m less too).
Iago Aspas’ entire Liverpool legacy pretty much solely centres around a corner kick. Liverpool were 1-0 down to Chelsea in stoppage time and chasing an equaliser that would have kept their 2013/14 title hopes alive when Aspas passed the ball straight to Willian on the edge of the box.
Aspas joined Liverpool from Celta Vigo in 2013 and it was the Spanish side who he rejoined in 2015, just six days after his loan stint at Sevilla had been made permanent as part of the agreement with the Reds. Since his nightmare time at Anfield he has proved himself to be a top striker and is still in the Spain national squad at 31 years of age. Unfortunately his reputation on Merseyside may never recover.
You would have expected a huge football club like Liverpool to have learnt from previous mistakes. However, clearly nobody told Rodgers how poorly Carroll had fared at Anfield as he and the fabled transfer committee decided to splash £32.5m on Christian Benteke from Aston Villa.
Though it looked unlikely, we’ll never know if Benteke could have turned it around under Rodgers as unfortunately for the Belgian the manager was sacked just three months after the deal went through. Unsurprisingly, the big man didn’t fit with Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpressing style and he was sold to Crystal Palace after one season, just as Liverpool began to emerge from those dark days.