The Long Goodbye: How Have Liverpool Fared the Season After a Managerial Change?

- - Managers

Red Welcome BannerBy the time you’re reading this, it will almost be over.

Jurgen Klopp’s near nine-year reign as Liverpool head coach is coming to an end. There’s talk of statues, commemorating a manager that has brought Premier League and Champions League glory to Anfield, but the German’s connection to the club and its fans runs so deep that mere stone and marble alone aren’t enough to do it justice.

The worst-kept secret in football is that Feyenoord boss Arne Slot will be Klopp’s successor, and the Dutchman has almighty shoes to fill – sadly, managing a club after a legend has departed has not, historically, gone all that well for the replacement over the years.

But what do the lessons of the past potentially teach us about the future? Here’s how new Liverpool managers have fared in their first full season in the Anfield hotseat.

Jurgen Klopp (2016/17)

Season Position Goal Diff. Points
2016/17 4th +36 76

Brendan Rodgers was relieved of his duties in October 2015, paving the way for Klopp to take up residence in the Anfield dugout.

In that sense, the German had a transfer window in January 2016 to make a couple of manoeuvres, although he largely ignored the chance – nobody departed the club, and the only signing Klopp made, rather incongruously now looking back, was Marko Grujic, whose career never really took off on Merseyside.

The side that Klopp inherited were tenth in the Premier League and had won just one of their prior nine games, but as the German slowly began to implement his ‘heavy metal’ football stylings, the Reds had improved to eighth by the end of the season – signing off the campaign with a formline of W4 D3 L1.

More pressing judgement could be made of Klopp at the end of his first full campaign in 2016/17. And there were immediate improvements.

Liverpool finished fourth, qualifying for the Champions League, and conceded their lowest goals tally since 2011/12. The 78 goals scored was their best season since 1989/90 – aside from the 101 bludgeoned in 2013/14.

A run to the semi-finals of the League Cup, plus the signings of Sadio Mane, Gini Wijnaldum and Joel Matip, mark down Klopp’s first season in charge at Liverpool as a complete success.

Brendan Rodgers (2012/13)

Season Position Goal Diff. Points
2012/13 7th +28 61

Whether you like Rodgers or not, there’s no doubt he inherited a dumpster fire of a Liverpool side from Kenny Dalglish in the summer of 2012.

The Reds had finished eighth in the Premier League the season before, scoring just 47 goals, with runs to the FA Cup and League Cup finals – including victory in the latter – merely papering over the cracks.

Dalglish had signed a couple of players that would later become Liverpool legends – Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique, but even so Rodgers had work to do to bring the Reds squad up to scratch.

He signed Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge – what bargains they would turn out to be, with the Brazilian costing roughly half the fee of midfield colleague Joe Allen.

The final results were positive. Although Liverpool would finish just one league position higher in seventh, they lost five fewer games than in Dalglish’s final season, won nine more points and – crucially – scored 24 more goals.

Rodgers had laid the foundations for the better seasons that were to come under his charge.

Kenny Dalglish (2011/12)

Season Position Goal Diff. Points
2011/12 8th +7 52

Liverpool fans may have chosen to erase this particular vintage from their memory.

Roy Hodgson ended his managerial reign at Anfield with a win ratio of just 41% – you have to go back to the 1950s to find a full-time Liverpool boss with a poorer return.

The 2010/11 season was his swansong – a sixth-place finish, with 14 defeats and exits from both domestic cups in the third round, indicative of how far out of his depth Hodgson was.

The Liverpool hierarchy, who had lost the fans at this point, knew they needed a sugar-sweet PR appointment to win back the Anfield faithful, so Dalglish was spirited in for the end of the 2010/11 campaign.

He would get a proper crack at the job in 2011/12, with two full transfer windows behind him, which saw some key figures in years to come brought in.

But as mentioned, performances on the pitch scarcely improved under King Kenny; in fact, the Reds finished two places lower under him than Hodgson and earned six points less.

A couple of fun trips to Wembley aside, Dalglish’s reign did not end in a blaze of glory as everyone associated with Liverpool FC would have hoped.

That said, both Rodgers and Klopp oversaw immediate improvements in their first season in charge of the club, so the hope is that Slot makes it a hat-trick in 2024/25.

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