How Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool Are Succeeding Where Previous Reds Teams Failed

Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2014

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Speaking at the launch of Liverpool’s new home kit for the 2014/15 season, former striker Robbie Fowler explained how the current Reds’ side are showing the resilience required to win the Premier League title, a trait Fowler admits that the sides of his era sometimes lacked.

"The consistency that the side now are showing, you look at the West Ham game, I think my team or certain Liverpool teams of the past would have struggled there," explained Fowler in an interview with This Is Anfield.

"That’s why Liverpool are where they are and they’ve got this chance because my team [of the 90s] would probably have come unstuck, this team and these players are taking everything in their stride."

25 Oct 1997:  Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman (right) of Liverpool celebrate a goal during the FA Carling Premiership match against Derby County at Pride Park in Derby, England. Liverpool won the match 0-4. \ Mandatory Credit: Gary M Prior/Allsport
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Indeed, the legendary Liverpool icon would be right to comment as such. Fowler was part of the so-called "Spice Boys" side under Roy Evans in the mid-'90s who were often tipped as title challengers but eventually fell short, finishing fourth, third, fourth, and third during Evans’ four full seasons in charge.

However, Fowler explains that he does see similarities between his former boss and the current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. "I like Brendan because he’s similar to Roy Evans," says Fowler. "I mean, Brendan’s tactical nous is far superior to Evans’ and I don’t mean that in a bad way, but what Roy gave you was the belief to win games and his man management style was brilliant."

That added tactical acumen has certainly helped Rodgers get the most out of his squad, exceeding what many pundits and media expected from his side. He even exceeded his own expectations, as the Northern Irishman admitted recently, per The Guardian.


The Benitez and Houllier Years

While Evans’ Liverpool fell short of the EPL title, so too did Gerard Houllier's and Rafa Benitez’s sides, although both achieved something Evans didn’t in taking the Merseyside club to a second-place finish—Houllier in 2002, Benitez in 2009.

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 23:  Rafa Benitez Manager of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Middlesbrough at Anfield on August 23, 2008 in Liverpool, England  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Phil Cole/Getty Images

That 2008/09 season under Benitez is widely regarded as a huge missed opportunity, as the Reds lost only twice all season but still finished beneath Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United due to 11 draws. Some of those points dropped included games at home to and at Stoke, at home to Fulham, West Ham, Hull City and Aston Villa. Similar games this season under Rodgers have seen a newfound character and mentality that forced the three points.

Similarly, Houllier’s side showed their weakness on many an occasion, not least on the final-day humbling to relegation-surviving Bradford City in 2000.

 

This Season

The past 24 yearsthe time since Liverpool last lifted a league title and thus ended the campaign as the champions of Englandhave seen countless upsets against The Reds by the perceived weaker sides in the league. Hoodoos have been cast by the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Stoke City (two successive 0-0 draws at Anfield prior to this season), Wigan Athletic and Fulham.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring their third goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on February 12, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Similar games under Rodgers this season have resulted in emphatic victories—usually in home fixtures—or entertaining, roller-coaster football that has eventually seen his side run out winners—such as at Stoke and Fulham.

Even the Aston Villa match in January saw this new side to Liverpool, as they came back to salvage a point courtesy of Rodgers’ tactical changes, as well as the team’s character and desire for success.

No longer do Liverpool look like the mentally fragile side that often failed to deliver and frustrated fans with a bafflingly poor performance immediately after a swashbuckling one the week before.

The players believe, the fans believe. As the banner reads, "Make Us Dream."