The King's successor:Brendan ''Buck'' Rodgers has been chosen as heir to King Kenny in the Anfield dugout.
Following weeks of intense rumours, the rise to prominence of ''ITKs'' (People claiming to be in the know,possesing sources and moles) and a media circus rooted in extremely misleading information until the very last minute,Fenway Sports Group (FSG) finally settled on Brendan Rodgers. It, I understand, came down ultimately between himself and Wigan boss Roberto Martinez(whose club chairman Dave Whelan became notorious in the media for being a talkative). According to very reliable sources on twitter,most notable amongst them being Duncan Jenkins, FSG had him in mind soon after Kenny's sacking,or maybe even before that,as he had impressed them with his Barcelona-style of football he had cultivated so well at Swansea last season.
Rodgers is relatively unknown and not tried and tested,well of course compared to the other supposed contenders like Andre Villas Boas, Luis Van Gaal, Jurggen Klopp et al. He had been a professional footballer in his teens, but quit after discovering he hardly had what it took to soldier on as a successful professional. A career threatening injury sustained also made his decision all the easier.
From there, Rodgers set his sights on embarking on a career journey to ultimately lead him to being one of the top managers of our generation. And he was prepared to undergo all the preparatory rough and tumble to make it happen.
One thing that has been his hallmark is that he possesses the passion and the drive to learn and modify, to apply. He underwent coaching courses to acquire the needed licences and certification as well as technical/tactical knowledge. He was sure he wanted to become a coach and he was equally convinced he would blossom into a fine tactician and trainer if only he learned from the right people and institutions.
He had also always believed and admired the Spanish and Netherlands way of keeping the ball/possesion,which he believes is key to controlling a football game--which gives one the upper-hand in the race to win a match. He recalled that, even from way back as in his youthful days, he had always prefered that philosophy as against the orthodox British way of 'hoofing' the ball up the pitch(long ball football).
“Whenever I was playing as a youth international with Northern Ireland we would play Spain, France, Switzerland and the like. And we were always chasing the ball. In my mind, even at that young age, I remember thinking ‘I’d rather play in that team than this team," Rodgers.
He invested time,effort and resources, travelling to Spain and the Netherlands to study The Rinus Michels system of total football,which has today morphed into Barcelona's classic tiki taka. It was a matter of preference, as he disliked the British way,s o much so that even before becoming a full blown coach, he was travelling around Europe, studying the Spanish and Dutch systems painstakingly.
|Man of the moment: Rodgers during his unveiling|
“My big dream is to be a highly successful football manager whose methods provide innovation for youth and senior footballers and coaches” Rodgers
The times spent at Barcelona and Ajax studying the models and blueprints of ''sexy'' football was one that shaped his coaching ideas and philosophy.He carefully sampled bits from everywhere to develop his own system, which he would later use in coaching his sides.He started out at Reading as a youth team coach, experimenting his newly learnt ideas, correcting flaws and perfecting it with time.
Due to his impressive drive and determined character, Jose Mourinho snapped him up from Reading as his first external appointment on his arrival upon the recommendation of Steve Clarke(current LFC asistant manager) at Stamford Bridge in 2004. Jose Mourinho most probably saw himself in Rodgers, and was fascinated by his willingness to learn and develop a unique style so as to equip him with the needed arsenal to succeed. He (Rodgers) recalls,“We [himself and Jose Mourinho] had a similar philosophy – we believed in the passion for football and the organisation. And he worked at a big club before becoming a manager.
''He took me under his wing a wee bit, maybe because he saw something different in me, or maybe there was a bit of empathy because, like him, I hadn’t had the big playing career. Anyway, that started one of the best times of my life. Jose had learnt from his mentor, Louis van Gaal, and I learnt from him, that there must never be a lazy day in training, and that preparation is vital.”
"I am very happy with his appointment, especially because he did it as a consequence of all his amazing work at Swansea,Brendan is a good man, a family guy and a friend,when he joined us at Chelsea he was a young coach with lots of desire to learn,but he was also a coach with ideas, who was ready not just to listen but also to communicate and share."Jose Mourinho on Brendan Rodgers.
Although Mourinho had his own distinct style which was different from Rodgers' admired system of possesion football, he(Rodgers) learnt a lot from Mourinho's highly detailed and scientific training sessions, and his conscientious style in emphasizing the importance of every single aspect, and the zero tolerance for laziness. Brendan was learning attentively and well, with knowledge that was fast becoming more balanced and thorough.He had always admired Jose Mourinho and had always dreamt of meeting him and learning from him.
Rodgers recalled of his mentor, ''As you can imagine I was nervous meeting him, a guy I’d read a book about''
Jose Mourinho's influence did certainly not only boost his knowledge base but his c.v as well.He was ready now,after years of painstaking research,studying and observation.His master plan towards reaching his goal was unfolding as it should.
The Master and his protégé : Brendan Rodgers sees Mourinho as a role model and inspiration
Rodgers started out at Watford, aged only 35,with an impressive 15 years of youth team and reserve team coach written boldly on his c.v, not to mention all the knowledge emanating from his studies and travels. Then through to Reading,where his career took a major blow as he had an unsuccessful stint and was ultimately sacked.This was a really had reality for Rodgers to imbibe, as from all that he had done in preparation for his career,he had hardly anticipated a potential ''failure'' so soon.
But he had to face reality and move on, to forget about the painful impact of the debacle and learn vital lessons from it.He moved on,being appointed manager of Swansea City Football Club in July 2010.The rest they say its history.Guiding them into the Premier League for the first time in their history by contesting and winning the play-off final,Rodgers not only achieved, but he did so with Swansea finally showcasing his long held philosophy.Everything was finally falling in place.
In his first season in the Premier League, not only has the Northern Irish trainer shocked pundits and avoided relgation, he has done so, finishing in 11th place and playing the most attractive football the Premier League has withnessed in years. His side, in a justified relation/comparison (as he's now Liverpool manager) finished only 5 points behind Liverpool last season, with Liverpool spending £120m - compared to his £7m.
Also, according to some OPTA, Brendan Rodgers' Swansea team scored 30 goals from open play last season, compared to Liverpool's 24 goals from open play.Surely FSG had considered all this in addition to the other impressive factors,including of course two virtuoso Swansea performances vs Liverpool at Anfield and the Liberty Stadium, in making that risky gamble of bringing him to Anfield, even allowing him to bring three of his trusted backroom staff from the Liberty stadium.Liverpool's managing director reflects, "When you meet Brendan you can't help but be inspired by his knowledge, passion and vision for the game.''
Reports even suggest the owners may have jettisoned their original plan of a tiered administrative structure including a Director of football and a Technical Director,to give Rodgers full control,apparently under a ground breaking ''continental model'' .In what I personally feel is a massive step up,in my honest opinion, i think he is up for it.
“Our idea is to pass teams to a standstill so they can no longer come after you. Eventually you wear them down.” “My philosophy is to play creative attacking football with tactical discipline, but you have to validate that with success.”“I like to control games. I like to be responsible for our own destiny. If you are better than your opponent with the ball you have a 79 per cent chance of winning the game. For me it is quite logical. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, if you don’t have the ball you can’t score.” Brendan Rodgers.
|New Era: Brendan Rodgers replaces King Kenny after beating him on the final day of the league.|
I have said time and again that I personally feel it's a shrewd appointment.Following his trajectory, he has shown the desire to succeed and the propensity to do what it is that is necessary to achieve that. He also has a sound and effective philosophy, which I must admit will take time to fully transmit to the squad at Melwood, but will eventually fall in place beautifully.
Things certainly look bright transitioning the club into the future. Managers must start from somewhere, and judging from other notable examples, I firmly believe LFC could have just found their own Klopp, Conte or even Guardiola.
Fiifi Anaman (@fiifianaman)
Friday June 1 2012.