Brendan Rodgers has admitted he feared the sack at Liverpool prior to their switch in formation that has triggered their climb up the Premier League table.
Since Christmas, the Reds have been the Premier League’s form team, posting the top flight’s only unbeaten record this calendar year, and moving from the bottom half of the table to the verge of top four, Sky Sports reports.
Before the transformation, Rodgers admits he was struggling to work out the Reds’ best formation with the 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace in November letting him know that drastic changes were needed.
“It wasn’t working. We had a huge challenge, probably the biggest I have had as a coach or manager,” he admitted.
“We had no identity and everyone could see it. We just weren’t the team I had built over a couple of years, certainly created the identity with the way we played.
“I knew I had to do something radical because I had seen enough of the players to know we were not going to be able to shape up and work and play as we had done for the previous couple of years with what we had got.
“That’s what I am, an innovative coach, and I needed to find a way to make us play better.”
Rodgers quickly switched to a radical 3-4-3 formation which saw midfielder Emre Can operating in defence, £16m flop Mario Balotelli axed, and playing Raheem Sterling in a more advanced role.
Defeat at Man United in mid-December exposed the new system’s flaws, but Rodgers reckoned he’d seen a return of the flair and invention that had characterised last season’s title bid.
Since then, Liverpool have reduced the-then 10-point gap on United to just a couple of points and hoped to make it 13 games unbeaten in Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Burnley at Anfield.
Rodgers admits Liverpool’s early-season struggles were a huge wake-up call and thinks the experience of his sacking at Reading has made him wiser.
“I certainly wasn’t going to roll over and die. I will always fight for my life,” he said. “After the Palace game in particular, I felt it doesn’t matter how much support you have, the team is not functioning and it could not go on really.
“I respect and understand that. My experience at Reading told me that. That’s what I learned from that sacking there – it doesn’t matter how much support you have in the boardroom, you have to get results and you have to win.
“I went in with the full backing of the chairman, who was great to me, and I got 20 games. Even though it was a three year project and they wanted me there and I was the guy who had moulded the club more than anyone, I got the sack after 20 games.”