Brendan Rodgers: What He'll Do Differently Than Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool
It’s not official.
And we mustn’t act in haste before anything is official. But we’ll take the word of the Beeb on this occasion!
What I mean to say here is that Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool Football Club have agreed in principle for the former to take over the reins from Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish as the new manager for the 2012-13 English Premier League season.
Supporters, both shocked and confused, are taking to forums and message boards to express their approval/disapproval of the new boss who, by agreeing to this switch, is certainly on the verge of taking one of the biggest steps in terms of his career.
Rodgers, for those that need a short introduction, leaves his current job as boss of Welsh club Swansea City to start afresh with Liverpool. Rodgers, who took over at Swansea in 2010, led them to promotion to the English top flight in just his first season in charge.
And the Swans did the unthinkable, when they defied all odds and bets stacked against them, as they finished at eleventh position in the standings in their first season back in the top division since 1983.
Along the way, the Swans scored impressive victories over Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. More than that, it was the possession brand of football that was the talking point of Brendan Rodgers’ youthful side.
Perhaps, it could have been the very same reason why Thomas Werner and John W Henry felt it right to offer the Northern Irishman a contract that could see his star rise to the levels of his mentor Jose Mourinho, the current head coach at Real Madrid.
Chance of a Lifetime
For Rodgers, however, it is going to be one of the toughest tasks that he has ever had to deal with in his entire lifetime.
With Liverpool, not only is it the pressure that comes with managing one of the top clubs in World Football, but also gaining the trust of supporters of a global brand that is Liverpool Football Club.
Rodgers’ only previous experience of working at a top club in the league was with Chelsea under Jose Mourinho in 2005, where he managed the reserve squad after spending a year managing the youth squads.
Rodgers’ prior stints with Watford and Reading, as head coach of the football clubs, turned out to be disasters. So Liverpool’s appointment of a novice manager to take over the hot seat at one of the most prestigious clubs in the world has gained notoriety even before Rodgers has begun his work.
Well, profiling aside, what did FSG see in Brendan Rodgers that made them decide that the ex-Swans boss was the right fit for the job?
To keep it plain and honest, Rodgers may well have been the only candidate who was fine with working under a complex, multi-tier system of football management methodology proposed by FSG.
So, he’s in. In that case, what is it that Rodgers would want to do differently to Kenny Dalglish at Anfield?
First, Rodgers may look to better Dalglish in the use of the squad.
A few glaring errors of note during Dalglish’s reign at Anfield was his insistence to stick with a player even if it meant he had to play him out of his position.
Jordan Henderson, who is a centre midfielder by trade, was preferred on the right wing although a more efficient winger in Dirk Kuyt was left to rot on the bench.
Luis Suarez was preferred over Andy Carroll, even though the common man’s intelligence suggested that Liverpool looked more menacing in their attacks when both of them played together.
So Rodgers would look to correct that shortcoming of Kenny by trying to use his squad resources more judiciously and wisely than Kenny could.
One of the reasons for Rodgers’ appointment was his willingness to work under the proposed three-tier methodology proposed by FSG.
This means that player purchases will now be a privilege not made available to the manager. Of course, that doesn’t mean he can’t suggest a player of his liking to the club hierarchy.
However, let us also consider the extreme event of FSG not wanting to go ahead with the proposed structure at the club.
This should allow Rodgers to take complete control over club transfers and policies. But with funds provided for transfers expected to be significantly less than prior to his arrival, would that be a problem for him?
However, Rodgers’ experience when it comes to picking up a bargain or a Bosman deal should ensure his safe passage.
Deals like the one that bought Danny Graham and Scott Sinclair to Swansea and made them the threatening combination they turned out to be has clever play written all over it.
Style of Football
There are some really confused folks out there with respect to their understanding of FSG’s proposed new system and the difference to the one that was already in place.
Allow me to clear it up for you. Yes, Liverpool Football Club did have a technical director in Damien Comolli who was actively involved with transfers and scouting.
But Comolli’s role stopped at that. His lack of experience when it comes to on-field knowledge meant Kenny Dalglish had a free hand in inculcating a footballing philosophy of his choice on the team.
FSG’s proposed new methodology seeks to plug the gap by bringing in a technical director with vast experience and footballing knowledge.
This rules out Rodgers from challenging a pre-set philosophy and allows him little room to develop his own managerial skills.
But it ensures that Liverpool Football Club no longer suffers by the departure of a manager as the footballing philosophy imbibed in the club’s foundation would remain the same.
Direct Play vs. Possession Football
Generations and generations of Liverpool supporters have grown used to watching their team attack opponent teams with a more direct brand of football.
To explain Swansea’s type of football a bit more in detail, a counter attacking approach was what that drove the Swansea season.
Liverpool supporters, on the other hand, are more used to seeing their team demolish a relegation threatened candidate and would certainly hope that it stays that way.
Because there is a distinct probability that Rodgers may employ wait-and-pounce techniques, which may not go down well amongst the Kop faithful.
Kenny Dalglish’s second reign as manager was pass-and-move style where players were encouraged to get forward with the ball.
Although Jordan Henderson was a notable exception in that he always passed it sideways, Rodgers’ insistence on having a larger possession percentage may result in the team playing “boring football” at times.
There is this one little teeny-weeny thing that Brendan Rodgers would like to master in the wake of his imminent move to Liverpool.
This is something that Kenny Dalglish is a master at and one which Roy Hodgson failed miserably at.
It is the approval of the fans. Rodgers should know it better as he looks to take over the reins at a club with probably the most passionate set of supporters in the whole world.
And he’d do well to understand that there won’t be an easy way forward without building a happy and co-existing relationship with the club’s supporters.
FSG are pulling all strings to ensure the return of glory days to Anfield and this is one step towards that direction.
This move may very well end up to be the shrewdest move ever taken by a big club and FSG will certainly be hoping that it turns out alright!