It’s a new beginning at Anfield and a very positive one. Liverpool owners have finally found their man. Replacing a club icon is never easy, but in Brendan Rodgers, who has agreed to sign a three-year contract, the club sees a young man with a vision in eye and commitment to attractive football.
It is a smart move from FSG (Fenway Sports Group), the Liverpool owners, who rested their faith on a long-term project while appointing the ex-Reading man. “Think Big, Act Bigger”– was the message from many football pundits regarding Liverpool’s quest for finding the right person for the vacant managerial post. Many demanded high profile names at Anfield after the departure of Kenny Dalglish but looking at some of the recent successes of top teams in Europe, prima facie it looks like a bold move from the Liverpool board.
Ideally fans would love to see their club hero Rafael Benitez back at Anfield, but the owners demurred at such suggestions. They were looking for a young manager who can make the most out of British players, willing to work on a budget and most importantly posses a strong philosophy and shrewd man management skills.
Probably, the owners have noticed how clubs like Juventus, Ajax or even AC Milan have operated recently.
Italian SerieA winner Juventus appointed a manager, Antonio Conte, who guided a second division team (Siena) to promotion couple of years back. The Old Lady thought big and acted even bigger by appointing him and the result is there before our eyes. He guided the Turin giant to their first Scudetto in nine years remaining undefeated throughout the season. Likewise Ajax went for an inexperienced yet highly talented Frank De Boer who delivered back to back Dutch league titles.
Hence, the appointment of Brendan Rodgers makes sense. Many can say his Swansea side has over-achieved this season and hence it is difficult to judge how good he is based on his first Premier League season at charge. But, can anyone deny how good Swansea have played this season? How captivating was their performances against top sides - refusing to withdraw the core philosophy of pass and move enthused by Rodgers? That brings hope that the ex- Swansea manager will stick to his philosophy of playing attractive brand of football that is highly appreciated at Merseyside.
Fans can see him as an overnight sensation but if we closely observe his track record; apart from managing at top clubs he ticks every possible box that Liverpool can ask for.
Knowledge about the game
The 39-year-old was a player for Reading but his playing career was cut short through chronic knee injuries. He was forced to hang up his boot at the age of 20. Since then, he yearned for more knowledge about the game. He travelled all over Europe and spent more than 20 years in top European academies and training pitches. He was a keen observer at the academies of Ajax and Barcelona and earned invaluable knowledge about how to groom young kids.
No wonder why he could infuse such beautiful passing game at Swansea. Liverpool who also likes to play good and attractive brand of football will be highly benefitted from his extensive knowledge about the game.
His coaching style
Rodgers shares the concept of playing the possession based football and his man-management style resembles that of Jose Mourinho. Actually it was the Portuguese who asked him to manage Chelsea's youth squad eight years ago.
Discipline is a key component of his management style. He believes in imparting confidence amongst his players. Liverpool dressing room that is currently in dire need of fresh oxygen of confidence will be buoyed by his evangelical demeanor and speeches. He can lift the morals of players like Downing and Henderson who fared miserably last term and the club can hope to get the best out of those duos for which they paid over the odds.
Developing home grown players
He has a great penchant for grooming home grown talents. He feels that improvement is possible in every footballer through a combination of technical coaching and proper man management.
Speaking to The Times in January he said “Spanish babies aren’t sprinkled with magic dust. Ours have the same ability, but maybe we’ve asked them to play in a different way.”
This would excite the young talents of much hyped Liverpool academy. The revamped academy which owes much debt to Rafa Benitez is on course of producing some of the finest players (may be) of next generation for Liverpool – Sterling, Coady, Adorjan, Suso et al, who possess excellent technical abilities and high tactical awareness. Rodgers will be thrilled by such wealth of talent in the reserve armory.
His PR skills and handling media
Rodger’s PR skills will come handy too. He might not know the traditions of Liverpool Way (doubt even the owners are aware of that), but he knows how to conduct professional matters. Speaking about his future linking with other clubs publicly (especially when there is no foundation of truth) is not a good-way of doing things. Rodgers so far has done that. He repeatedly distanced himself from the media regarding the vacant job at Liverpool and only when the deal was confirmed the message was delivered. This perfectly adheres to Liverpool’s philosophy of keeping things under wrapper in a professional manner.
His exposure to Europe made him well versed in other languages like Spanish and Italian which is an added advantage as Liverpool boast a multinational squad. What he needs now is support and respect from the fans. Fans must understand that a good work takes time. It is imperative that they back him completely and help him to achieve the dreams he has with Liverpool. Fans can say his appointment is a gamble. But isn’t Rodgers taking a big gamble here by placing his reputation under naïve owners who themselves are learning the ropes of football management? Liverpool can expect a new revolution and hopefully a bright one.
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