Did Brendan Rodgers deserve to be sacked as Liverpool manager? What sounds like a rhetorical question to any fan who sat through his team’s 6-1 drubbing at Stoke at the end of last season deserves closer inspection when considered in the Premier League’s wider economic context.
At first glance, the figures don't look good for Rodgers. Liverpool spent more money on transfers during his tenure than any manager before him. The club spent around £320m across seven transfer windows with Rodgers as boss - more than Rafael Benitez was afforded in 12. The Reds were the fourth highest-spending club in the Premier League during the Northern Irishman’s time in charge and splashed out over £100m more on transfers than Arsenal.
Yet Rodgers leaves Anfield as the only manager since Bill Shankly not to win a trophy after spending a season or more in the role.
The apparently paltry return on owners Fenway Sports Group’s (FSG’s) investment, combined with a decline in team performance over the last season - including notable failures in the Champions League and FA Cup semi-final - and an increasingly aggravated relationship over transfers suggests why they have been willing to twist rather than stick.
The failure to get the best out of notable big-money signings such as Roberto Firmino (£29m), Dejan Lovren (£18m), Lazar Markovic (£17.5m) and Mario Balotelli (£14m) cast a shadow over Rodgers that may cloud successes elsewhere.
However, while Liverpool’s transfer spend may have kept the pace with the Premier League’s big hitters, on nearly every other economic measure Rodgers was handicapped financially.
A club’s wage bill - not its transfer spend - is considered by economists to be more determining of where a team can expect to finish in the league. Liverpool had the fifth highest wage bill during Rodgers' tenure, which saw the club finish seventh, second and sixth in the league - an average of fifth.
In Liverpool’s latest financial accounts from the 2013/14 season their £144m wage bill was trumped by Arsenal’s £166m, Chelsea’s £192m, Manchester City’s £205m and Manchester United’s £215m.
The club can’t spend as much on the salaries demanded by top-level players because it can’t afford to. Their fifth highest wage bill in the league perfectly matches their fifth-highest turnover of £256m.
Anfield’s history may be unrivalled but its 45,522 capacity is dwarfed by United’s Old Trafford and Arsenal’s Emirates which helped generate matchday revenue of £108.1m and £100.2m respectively to Liverpool’s £50.9m.
Even Liverpool’s £25m-a-year kit deal with Warrior Sports is bettered by rivals who, in recent seasons, have been able to sell more frequent exposure in the Champions League.
And while transfer spend was high during his tenure, so were transfer earnings. The improvement of players such as Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling during the period helped the club earn more money from player sales than United, City and Arsenal.
Rodgers could do little about a malaise that had seen Liverpool finish outside the top five in the previous three seasons before his arrival. Neither could he be held responsible for planning restrictions in the Anfield area holding back the stadium expansion, nor the arrival of Manchester City’s petrodollars in the Premier League.
Did Rodgers deserve to be sacked? In purely economic terms, it's easy to make the case for "no".
Explore the interactive below to see every player signed while Rodgers was in charge.