Brendan Rodgers could not fool Liverpool fans any longer

Liverpool fans holding a banner in support of Brendan Rodgers in April 2014
Liverpool fans holding a banner in support of Brendan Rodgers in April 2014, when he came close to winning the title

Liverpool have sacked Brendan Rodgers for a combination of reasons but the biggest one was the apathy that Reds fans had about him being in charge.

For managers, just about the only time they communicate directly to supporters is through their media conferences before games, and the TV interviews they do afterwards.

With Rodgers, it was always the same message being delivered and the fans stopping believing it.

When he was interviewed after matches, whatever the performance, he always seemed to say something along the lines of: "The players were great, they gave me everything and I couldn't ask for anymore."

Well I'm sorry, but Liverpool supporters, especially the older ones, have seen great players, great managers and great teams and you cannot pull the wool over their eyes.

They know when they have got a good player, they know when they have got a good manager and they know when they have got a good team.

Liverpool fans want to see a team that is improving and having a real go at winning trophies, but if they see them play poorly they want a manager who will come out and say that.

Man-management skills were not enough

I have no axe to grind with Rodgers and I do not think he should have been sacked.

West Ham fans celebrate during their win at Anfield in September, with empty seats above them
West Ham fans celebrate during their win at Anfield in September, with empty seats above them

My biggest problem with him was that, whatever happened to the team, good or bad, his reaction was always a little bit about him.

He was in charge for more than three years and the Anfield crowd was extremely patient with him.

But in his last few games they mostly sat there in silence and, in September's defeat by West Ham, a lot of them left very early.

In those situations, a lot of people might have booed but that would have been easy. Upping sticks and walking out was probably the biggest thumbs down to Rodgers that the fans could give.

All his players liked him and they definitely played for him - you could see that from their performance in his final game in charge against Everton on Sunday - but that on its own was not enough to save his job.

I think Rodgers' man-management skills are very good but he had to deal with more than just the people inside the club.

Once everyone started questioning every single decision he made, which happened on social media and with the wall-to-wall media coverage you get at a club of Liverpool's size, he never really recovered.

Liverpool are no closer to the top four

The bar is high for Liverpool, that is just the way it is. There is an expectation that they should be in the top four every season and maybe that is wrong.

But it was Rodgers' target for this season and they were no closer to managing it this time. They actually look as far away now as they have done for a long time.

He had one really good season when they nearly won the title but that was predominantly because Luis Suarez was absolutely world class and he also had Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge firing.

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Rodgers's final Liverpool interview

Rodgers deserves a lot of credit too, of course, because he was in charge, but since then his results have gradually gone downhill, and he has made a lot of mistakes along the way.

One of them was not offering Gerrard a deal that would have made him stay. Another was signing Mario Balotelli, when he knew what he was getting into.

His overall record in the transfer market is another reason he has lost his job.

He spent more than £300m, and too many have not made the grade.

Just as you cannot blame Rodgers solely for that, it is not just down to Liverpool's transfer committee either, because he is part of that too.

The Liverpool team he leaves behind does not have a player who can shape the way they play. Gerrard did that, and Suarez too, but right now they are a little bit toothless and too easy to play against.

Why Klopp would fit the bill

Jurgen Klopp
Klopp is available after leaving Borussia Dortmund in the summer

Liverpool need a manager who is big enough to handle the pressure, without thinking he is bigger than the club.

Whoever it is will have to buy into the mindset of the American owners - they want success, but their model is to try to get that by signing younger players they can train up and, sometimes, sell on.

Jurgen Klopp is the favourite to get the job and he would fit the bill.

At Borussia Dortmund he built a team that were in your face, with good players that he was making better but he also knew he would have to sell one or even two every year.

Liverpool's next manager? The key contenders
Jurgen Klopp: Former Borussia Dortmund manager
Carlo Ancelotti: Former Real Madrid, Chelsea and PSG manager
Frank de Boer: Ajax manager
Walter Mazzarri: Former Inter Milan manager
Jurgen Klinsmann: United States manager

As well as Frank de Boer and Diego Simeone, Carlo Ancelotti is a frontrunner too. People might question whether he would come to a club in Liverpool's current position but he would know all about their history.

That is part of the reason it is such a big job, because the club's glorious past brings expectation for the future.

And being a modern manager means managing up, as well as down. Two-thirds of the club's owners do not see many games, they just go off results. They are also building a new stand, and they will want to see that filled.

On top of that, the club is not in the Champions League and they need to get back in it, and it is 25 years since they won the title.

The new manager will have to deal with all of that and, dare I say, also deal with all the people like me who used to play for the club and are there to haunt him on a daily basis.

I say that almost tongue-in-cheek but it is the reality of the situation with so many former Anfield players working in the media.

All of the above is not going to put anyone off, but it is all part and parcel of being manager of Liverpool.

Mark Lawrenson was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan

The spark had gone from Rodgers
BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty: "The mood of Rodgers shortly before he was sacked as Liverpool manager was in keeping with his demeanour this season. Rodgers insisted he was not feeling pressure and fired off a few salvoes of self-defence during Sunday's post-match press conference.
"And yet there was a sense a spark was missing from a young manager who exuded positivity from the moment he walked into Anfield in the summer of 2012. It was almost as if he was on auto-pilot, not as a manager but with the media."
Why Rodgers was sacked - read more from Phil

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