Most Liverpool managers have, in their own ways, paid homage to past greats, namely Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly, the latter of whom built the foundation of a legacy that would see them top of the table for an entire era, up until the reformation of the First Division into the Premier League.
But Brendan Rodgers in particular has attempted to recreate the LFC exceptionalism that was a hallmark of Shankly’s tenure. It’s the narrative of fans as “chosen people,” to whom fealty must be paid. This was evident in Rodgers initial remarks after he was appointed, where he remarked on the “educated group of supporters” at Liverpool who demanded a higher standard of play.
Rodgers further underlined this idea with an open letter penned to Liverpool’s away contingent at FC Gomel for their Europa League qualifier yesterday. It read, in part:
The players and I are fully aware of the trials and tribulations surrounding travel for games; in particular, the costs, the necessity for visas and the transportation issues involved with this trip, so we wanted to let you know that your efforts are greatly appreciated.
‘It was a privilege to acknowledge your support on the evening at the ground, as we did following the full-time whistle, but I wanted to reiterate our thanks with this brief message.
‘It was a special night for me personally and it was great to see you in the stadium and in great voice; you made me proud and you made the players proud. You are an integral part of this team.
There is a reason for this approach that goes beyond stoking the Liverpool image, and a clue resides in Rodgers’ comments when he initially took the job, in which he warned that, “You can’t come to Liverpool Football Club and play a direct game of football, lumping-it style. It is going to take a bit of time.” Rodgers is likely working to create a positive relationship with fans in full knowledge this could be a difficult transition, a project of Andre Villas-Boas proportions.
By praising their intelligence and dedication, Rodgers is pushing the line that he’s establishing a style at Anfield that fans “deserve.” How far this goodwill will take him remains to be seen…