I was going to do one of those rush news posts for the HITZ but decided against it on account of I want to think things through a bit. So here goes.
Brendan Rodgers, the manager of wunderkind pressing and possessing Swansea who finished 11th when they were supposed to finish dead last, the club for which Leon Britton earned a higher pass completion rate than Xavi eff eff es, has been appointed Liverpool manager on a
it doesn’t matter really three year contract.
I’m not going to bore you with a biography. If you want that, here’s the Wikipedias. He was the former youth coach at Reading and reserve manager at Chelsea. He was pretty okay at Watford in his first big job in 2008 before he jumped ship to Reading in the summer of 2009. Mourinho likes him. Sorted.
So to the heart of the matter—is this the right signing for Liverpool FC?
I’ve long thumped the Footy Blog pulpit with the notion that good football managers are not necessarily good across all possible worlds (the exception is Jose Mourinho), but are made good based on the right set of circumstances. So why was Brendan Rodgers a success at Swansea, when he was a failure at Reading, a job he held for only six months before getting sacked in December 2009?
In the latter case, he took over a club that had lost some of its best players (Kevin Doyle, Stephen Hunt) after Reading failed to secure promotion to the Premier League the season prior under manager Steve Coppell. Reading had then been a grab-bag of players from hither and thither. While Coppell was a nice man manager and generally pretty able, he was hardly a poster boy for short-passing, fast-paced possession football. Transforming Reading according to Rodgers’ preferred style of play the short-time allotted was likely an impossibly tall order.
The reason this isn’t a nit bit of reverse engineering is because of his accomplishments at Swansea, beginning with their promotion to the Premier League after the 2010-11 season. Now it should be said Rodgers’ success at Swansea was helped on by the fact, as Regista blog points out, “the team that had been moulded by Roberto Martinez and Paulo Sousa was already attuned to a short passing game.” Key figures like Joe Allen and Leon Britton already knew what was what.
But Rodgers’ signings this season—Danny Graham, Michel Vorm, Steven Caulker and Gylfi Sigurðsson in particular—perfectly complimented the core of the team, which was already used to the manager’s demanding approach.
Which brings us to Liverpool. There are a lot of questions here. Will the club fill the Director of Football position left vacant by Damien Comolli’s departure? If so, will they hire to compliment Rodgers’ technical demands? How much control will Rodgers have over the transfer process? Is the core of LFC’s roster compatible with Rodgers’ approach? Will the club be patient during the transition process, as it could be long and costly as far as Champions League ambitions go?
Hopefully some of these will be answered over the course of the next few months, but Liverpool fans should be aware it could be some time before Anfield hums with the graceful, short-passing style preferred by the man from Carnlough, Norn Iron.