I am of the ‘Premier League generation’ and to me the biggest club in England is Manchester United. They have been the most consistent team in my lifetime, winning twelve league titles, five FA Cups and two European Cups. I am however, obviously aware that not so long ago it was Liverpool conquering all before them, winning four European Cups between 1977 and 1984 as well as finishing top of the old First Division nine times from 1977 through to 1990. Liverpool now though are a shadow of their former self and that is why they need to welcome Brendan Rodgers into the Anfield hot-seat with open arms, as they will be lucky to get him.
Rodgers will arrive on Merseyside on the back of a very successful debut season as a Premiership manager, where he guided un-fancied Swansea City to an 11th place finish. Swansea played an eye-catching possession game, moving the ball around quickly and dominating a lot of games in midfield. They were compared favourably with Barcelona and although they obviously don’t have the quality of players like Messi and Xavi, among others, theirs were hard-working and hunted as a team to win possession and keep it. Rodgers is seen as a very forward thinking manager with a clear understanding of how the game is developing both at home and abroad. Jose Mourinho said of Rodgers, ‘I like everything in him. He is ambitious and does not see football very differently from myself. He is open, likes to learn and likes to communicate’ Mourinho even wanted to take Rodgers with him to Inter Milan in 2008, but Rodgers decided to join Watford as manager instead.
Rodgers will be a breath of fresh air at Liverpool. The last few seasons at Anfield have been anything but smooth sailing, first with the Hodgson appointment and then the erratic performances and form of the second Kenny Dalglish era. Extenuating circumstances off the field involving two different sets of American owners have not helped matters either. Rodgers will bring a sense of calm to the club, which is exactly what is needed for Liverpool to find their feet again and push back up the league to the Champions League positions and, ultimately, the top spot. Although Liverpool are not what they once were, Rodgers is a grade A manager who will work diligently and proactively to ensure that the club can compete on a more even keel with the financial might of Manchester City and the prestige and determination of Manchester United.
Liverpool fan reaction so far to the appointment is mixed. Whilst many fans can see the logic of Rodgers and the footballing ideals he represents, some are a little less accepting. Shouts for managers of the likes of Fabio Capello and Jurgen Klopp are plenty but unrealistic and a belittling of Rodgers achievements so far in management are also present. What these fans need to understand is that Liverpool is a club that needs building up again by a fresh, energetic young manager and Rodgers is the perfect fit for this. I only hope that, if the start of next season isn’t as good as fans hope, shouts for King Kenny do not echo around the Kop. Dalglish is a club legend, that is absolutely undeniable, but his time for involvement in first team affairs is now gone and should stay that way. His second spell as boss didn’t work out in the way it was hoped and Liverpool need to accept that and move on. The same can be said about Rafa Benitez. A great manager for Liverpool for sure, but his time is no more. The Kop need to get behind Rodgers now and, given time, I am sure they will be reaping the rewards for doing so.
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