You never forget the first time, which explains why Brendan Rodgers cites a Europa League third-round qualifier against FC Gomel of Belarus as his stand-out game as Liverpool manager.
The 100th match of his Anfield tenure arrives at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday with Liverpool safely back in the Champions League and paired against Real Madrid. There can be no better illustration of the rapid rise under Rodgers than those two European staging posts.
“Seeing the club up in lights at the Champions League draw on Thursday was great and that is where we should be,” he said. “We are not a non-league team that has gone into the FA Cup. We are Liverpool, the five-time winners, so that’s where we should be. The time has flown by but I feel with the supporters there is a real sense of where the club is at and a real pride in the club, on and off the field.
“That was my whole aim when I first came in – to get the club into the Champions League because I knew if we got to there, we could build from there. We’ve arrived there, but we still have a lot of work to do to get us to where I want to be, which is to win things.”
Rodgers has won 55 of his 99 games in charge of Liverpool and would join Bill Shankly and Rafael Benítez on 56 wins from their opening 100 with victory at White Hart Lane. Kenny Dalglish, the first time, tops that particular table with 62 wins from his first 100 matches as Liverpool manager.
Asked to select a favourite game, Rodgers said: “FC Gomel, the first one. I’ve still got the shirt and the bottle of whisky that Gomel gave me that night and their shirt will be in a frame at some point. That was my first competitive game as manager of Liverpool. That’s something I will never forget. It meant a lot because I was coming into a huge club with a lot of responsibility.”