With just 12 games to go until the 2013/14 Premier League season ends, Liverpool are fourth in the table and just four points shy of league leaders Chelsea, and Brendan Rodgers deserves major credit for his work steering the Reds towards the top of the table.
According to Jamie Sanderson of the Metro, club owner John W. Henry and his team at the Anfield helm have been suitably impressed by Rodgers’ work and are ready to offer him a new contract to keep him at Liverpool for the foreseeable future.
Just over 18 months into his three-year contract, Rodgers has overseen a transformation in the club’s fortunes but what exactly makes him an ideal candidate to lead the Reds for the next few years yet?
Here are five reasons Brendan Rodgers deserves a new contract at Liverpool. Enjoy, and have your say in the comments below.
Liverpool’s current league position is impressive considering the strength of their immediate competitors but let’s not forget that it could’ve turned out differently had Luis Suarez left the club last summer.
Suarez’s public flirtations with a move to Arsenal and his outspoken desire to play in the Champions League left the Reds at a crossroads: Whether to cash in on their prized asset and use the funds to rebuild—again—or to stick it out and make him adhere to his contract.
On this front, the manager and his bosses stood united: Both Brendan Rodgers and John W. Henry were unanimous in stating that Suarez was to stay and spearhead Liverpool’s Champions League challenge, and so far, it seems to have paid off handsomely.
Rodgers has since admitted, via the Guardian, that the Suarez transfer saga has made him a better manager, but it’s by no means the only managerial feat he’s accomplished in his time at Anfield.
Consider the rejuvenations of Jordan Henderson—which itself has claimed many headlines this season—and Martin Skrtel, from being on the verge of leaving Liverpool to integral parts of the first team.
Consider his impeccable handling of Steven Gerrard’s ageing legs and moving of the legendary club captain to a more withdrawn role to keep his forceful and talismanic presence in the dressing room.
And consider his transforming of Daniel Sturridge, previously a Chelsea castoff, into one of the Premier League’s deadliest strikers, and the growing maturity seen in Suarez’s play.
Brendan Rodgers has proved to be a man who, above all results and points, seems to possess the man-management nous to transform a player’s career and inspire a young and energetic squad.
Hand-in-hand with man management comes youth development, and as Raheem Sterling hit two goals against Arsenal in the Premier League last Sunday, Rodgers would’ve been forgiven if he’d felt some sort of vindication for his faith in the youngster all along.
Sterling’s maturation and evolution has perhaps been one of Rodgers’ most noteworthy achievements during his Anfield reign: Catapulted into the spotlight at just 17, he tailed off after the turn of the year in 2013, rested for the majority of the year to prevent burnout and to protect him from media scrutiny amid off-field controversies.
He returned to the fold and has blossomed with a renewed sense of purpose, intelligence and productivity.
But it’s not just Sterling who has benefited from Rodgers’ education and training: The aforementioned Jordan Henderson has grown into a leader in the Reds midfield, while the likes of Suso and Andre Wisdom also made themselves regulars in Rodgers’ Liverpool team last season, while Jon Flanagan’s resurgence has been a heartwarming story for local Liverpool fans.
With Suso and Wisdom out on loan to further their development and promising youngsters like Jordon Ibe and Joao Carlos Teixeira on the way, Rodgers has clearly made Liverpool a haven for young prospects and local talent, which has always been an Anfield tradition.
Besides investing in youth development, a strong emphasis of John W. Henry’s philosophy and long-term vision for the club, Brendan Rodgers has also worked impressively within the economic sustainability mandate from top management.
The club owners have long cited Arsenal as a model of long-term vision and financial success for Liverpool, and with Rodgers’ work and record in the transfer market, he seems the right person to carry on this overarching mission.
Starting from his first season, where he agreed to release mega-earners Maxi Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt, Rodgers had already shown that he himself is a fan of sustainable development.
This was exemplified last summer as Liverpool let go of other players on big wages, including Joe Cole, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll (all, incidentally, to West Ham United), while deciding instead to shift his wage budget towards a bumper new deal for Luis Suarez, signed just this December.
By making use of the loan market—though admittedly with limited success so far—and focusing instead on promising raw talent, Rodgers has kept the team young, refreshed and motivated—and not too taxing on the club’s coffers.
It’s one thing to have a grand vision of how things should work and another to actually see it through and implement it.
Anyone who has taken the time to hear Brendan Rodgers talk about his vision and philosophy for football will have been suitably impressed by his mantra and single-minded focus—perhaps even slightly put off by his grandiose terminology.
But while his team took a few months before the message really permeated throughout the club and started showing in their playing style, when the Reds got going in the January of 2013, they suddenly looked a purring attacking machine, firing on all cylinders.
This was helped, of course, by the astute signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho that month, but with them came goals, possession play and counterattacks of the highest order.
That Liverpool are currently just two goals off the Premier League’s highest-scoring team in Manchester City says plenty about Rodgers’ success in getting his ideals implemented by his team.
And that Arsenal were completely blown away in the first 20 minutes at Anfield last Saturday was a stunning realization of Rodgers’ vision to press, press and press.
A strong togetherness and camaraderie exhibited by the squad this season shows just how united Rodgers has built his team to be. They’ll have been drilled and driven to go relentlessly at opponents to attack and score—and most importantly, enjoy their football.
After a disappointing league finish last season, Liverpool fans had at least witnessed the potential of a young Reds team going at full steam in the last few months.
But to envision a strong top-four challenge—not to mention being just a few points of the top of the tree in mid-February—was surely always going to be a step too far in Brendan Rodgers’ second season at the helm.
But not only has Rodgers gotten Liverpool to their current position—and top of the league on Christmas Day—he’s produced some eye-opening and jaw-dropping results along the way.
Regular four-goal hauls in the league no longer surprise, but they are relished. Tottenham Hotspur were handed a 5-0 beating at White Hart Lane, while Liverpool disposed of Everton 4-0 in the 222nd Merseyside derby and hammered Arsenal 5-1.
This season has already been an overachievement and as Rodgers inches ever closer to the Holy Grail that is the Champions League, he is at least deserving of a bonus as recognition of his impressive achievements.