Brendan Rodgers Could Benefit from More Experience in Liverpool Coaching Staff

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2014

Brendan Rodgers Could Benefit from More Experience in Liverpool Coaching Staff

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Last season, Brendan Rodgers was being heralded as one of the brightest young managers in the Premier League, rightly lauded for his tactical acumen, media-savvy personality and his preference for giving young players opportunities.

    Now, with Liverpool in the bottom half of the table and sporting a negative goal difference after over a quarter of the new season, questions are beginning to be asked of the Northern Irishman—a manager who, lest we forget, has a little over three season's experience in the top flight.

    It was a brave and bold move when Fenway Sports Group appointed the then-39-year-old as manager in July 2012, after just one year managing Swansea City in the Premier League.

    It was made even bolder by FSG scrapping plans to appoint a director of football. As detailed by Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph, Rodgers wanted full control: "I always think the manager is the technical director," Rodgers explained.

    "He is the man who oversees the football development of the club, and I believe you should take on that responsibility when you are manager."

    Taking on such responsibilities in modern football is a tough task, with many other clubs instead opting for a sporting director / technical director to oversee operations (Manchester City - Txiki Begiristain, Tottenham Hotspur - Franco Baldini, Chelsea - Michael Emenalo, Southampton - Les Reed).

    Not only does this reduce the risk involved if/when the manager departs, it also allows the manager to act as a head coach and focus on their primary task of winning football matches for the club.

    Rodgers and Liverpool instead opted for the much-debated transfer committee—of which little is accurately known about how it actually works, and who is actually responsible for different areas of running the football club and the decision making process.

    With the added pressures of Champions League football, is Rodgers now trying to do too much?

    He recently refuted the need for a defence coach, and explained how he was up until 4.30am "thinking of ways that I could make us better and improve" (as per The Telegraph). That cannot be a good sign for anyone at the club.

    The most successful manager in the Premier League era, Sir Alex Ferguson, explained, as per Forbes magazine, how he took on an overseeing role at Manchester United in his later years, delegating training to assistant coaches. Ferguson was effectively more of a director of football than a head coach, instead he surrounded himself with highly respected coaches (Carlos Queiroz, Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen) who he trusted to run training for him.

    One of those, Meulensteen last week questioned Rodgers' reluctance to appoint experienced people around him. "Brendan Rodgers's biggest failure is that he's not invested in his staff," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

    Does the Dutchman have a point? We take a look at Rodgers' first-team coaching staff, their experience and qualifications.

Assistant Manager: Colin Pascoe

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    Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

    Appointed at Liverpool: Summer 2012

    By: Brendan Rodgers

    Previous Experience in Role: Swansea City (2010-2012)

    Premier League Experience Prior to Liverpool: One Season (Swansea City)

    Champions League Experience in Role, Prior to this Season: None

    Colin Pascoe followed Rodgers to Anfield from Swansea in July 2012, becoming the Reds' assistant manager—a role he took up at the Welsh club just two years earlier.

    Pascoe's coaching qualifications are not known, with the official Liverpool FC website merely stating that he obtained his "coaching badges".

    Pascoe's playing career was spent primarily with Swansea in the fourth division during the 1980s, and latterly with Sunderland.

    No Champions League experience as a player or as a coach, plus only one year in his role prior to joining Liverpool, it's certainly fair to say Pascoe's experience is limited.

First Team Coach: Mike Marsh

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    Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

    Appointed at Liverpool: Summer 2012

    By: Brendan Rodgers

    Previous Experience in Role: None

    Premier League Experience Prior to Liverpool: None

    Champions League Experience in Role, Prior to this Season: None

    Prior to his appointment as Liverpool's first-team coach shortly after Rodgers became manager, Mike Marsh's only experience was with Liverpool's Under-18s side (for one season).

    Born in Kirkby, where the club's Academy is based, Marsh played 101 times for The Reds in the nineties, including eight appearances in the UEFA Cup.

    Marsh is currently studying for his UEFA Pro Licence alongside Ryan Giggs, Stephane Henchoz and Chris Powell, a course that takes 18 months to complete.

    Another inexperienced member of the staff but one who appears to have a bright future in the game.

Goalkeeping Coach: John Achterberg

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Appointed at Liverpool: January 2010 (temporary), Summer 2011 (permanent)

    By: Kenny Dalglish

    Previous Experience in Role: Liverpool Academy

    Premier League Experience Prior to Liverpool: None

    Champions League Experience in Role, Prior to this Season: None

    John Achterberg (pictured reaching out to Steven Gerrard) is another whose coaching experience is limited to Liverpool FC, having taken up a role at the club's Academy in 2009 shortly after retiring—he made over 250 appearances for nearby Tranmere Rovers in the lower leagues of English football.

    His initial appointment as first-team goalkeeper coach was a temporary one following Roy Hodgson's departure. He was then appointed permanently in summer 2011.

    Whether coincidence or not, since then Pepe Reina's form deteriorated and Simon Mignolet has shown few signs of improvement in his 16 months at the club so far.

    Achterberg is the only member of the first-team coaching staff who Rodgers hasn't replaced.

Head of Performance: Glen Driscoll

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    Hamish Blair/Getty Images

    Appointed at Liverpool: Summer 2012

    By: Brendan Rodgers

    Previous Experience in Role: Chelsea (2003-2011), Swansea City (2011-12)

    Premier League Experience Prior to Liverpool: Nine Years*

    Champions League Experience in Role, Prior to this Season: Six Years*

    Glen Driscoll (pictured above with John Terry) appears to be by far the most experienced of Rodgers' coaching staff, having worked with the boss at Chelsea's academy, then later at Swansea City.

    He has worked under Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti as head of fitness, head physiotherapist and head of injury prevention during his time with the London club.

    Driscoll is the only one of Rodgers' staff to have experience in the Champions League prior to this season, having been sat in the dugout at Anfield for Chelsea in the competition.

    "I’d sat in the opposition dugout here and been involved in some pretty amazing Champions League games at Anfield," he explained, via the Daily Mail.

    * Exact first-team roles and dates while at Chelsea aren't entirely clear.

Head of Fitness: Ryland Morgans

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    Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

    Appointed at Liverpool: October 2012

    By: Brendan Rodgers

    Previous Experience in Role: Nottingham Forest (2007-09), Fulham (2009-10), Swansea City (2010-2012)

    Premier League Experience Prior to Liverpool: Three Years

    Champions League Experience in Role, Prior to this Season: None

    Welshman Ryland Morgans is another former Swansea City employee who joined the Reds just after Rodgers, Pascoe, Driscoll and head of opposition analysis Chris Davies moved from Wales to Merseyside.

    Morgans holds the UEFA Pro Licence and is also head of performance for the Wales national team, clearly a well qualified and recognised coach in his field.


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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    It's clear to see that, Driscoll aside, Liverpool's first-team coaching staff lack experience, especially in the Champions League and in the roles that they are filling.

    Could Rodgers benefit from more experience? Is he trying to manage too many aspects himself? Should he address the goalkeeping coach situation? These are questions only the Liverpool boss can really know the answer to.

    But what's clear is in refusing to work with a director of football, and seemingly attempting to manage every aspect of the football operations at Anfield, FSG can only point to Rodgers when they want answers.

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