The worse time to overreact is after a big loss, and Liverpool haven’t conceded this big of a defeat in more than half a century. Still, the question of whether or not Brendan Rodgers should remain as the club’s manager shouldn’t be answered by looking at the result of this match alone.
This season, as a whole, doesn’t help support those thinking Rodgers is the tactical master he seems to be from time to time and deserves to stay on and lead the club to future success. Liverpool spent £117 million (sold players worth £88 million), were fifth in total wages and managed to end up sixth in the table. They’ll be in the Europa League thanks to either Arsenal winning the cup or a good disciplinary record, but it doesn’t matter. This season doesn’t feel at all like a triumph.
But suggesting that Rodgers is a bad manager just because of a 6-1 defeat is the wrong way to look at things. Big losses come and go; they’re rarely indicative of a team’s strength. Arsenal lost to Manchester United 8-2 in 2011 and still finished fourth. Heck, last season Arsenal were thrashed by pretty much every big club and still finished fourth. Manchester United lost 6-1 to Manchester City in 2011 and then lost the title on goal difference. Forget about the result of one match.
It’s more important to look at how Rodgers handles certain situations. The early goal scoring problems this season weren’t completely solved, but Liverpool did manage a very nice run from late December to mid March that made it seem like they’re going to make it into the Champions League. Not every signing this summer has been a failure, although the whole transfer issue – the committee and whether or not handing more control to Rodgers is wise will be discussed very soon within the club.
But Liverpool lost at almost every big match this season. They couldn’t beat Arsenal (one draw, one loss), Manchester United (two losses), Chelsea (two losses) or Everton (one draw, one loss). Their only big win came against Manchester City, a 2-1 victory on March 1 which was this season’s high point. They got only 8 points from their final nine matches. That says a lot more about what Rodgers can or can’t do.
Replacing Luis Suarez was impossible. But did Rodgers do the best he could with the tools he had? Was turning Emre Can into a right back a smart move? Were other tactical decisions actually helpful? Liverpool lost to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semifinal. Sure, Rodgers has struggled against Villa all throughout his tenure at the club, but isn’t a tactical master supposed to learn from his mistakes at some point?
This isn’t a post for or against Rodgers. It’s simply about pointing out that one record defeat against Stoke shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether or not to keep him, and yet Rodgers has failed to achieve any of the goals the owners set out for him at the beginning of the season, and raised quite a lot of question marks with some of his tactical decisions throughout the season, suggesting that last season had a lot more to do with Suarez than anything else.