Could Europa League be the chance to win over the doubters?
You can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for Brendan Rodgers and Andre Villas-Boas, after they have both endured tough starts to their managerial careers at Liverpool and Tottenham respectively.
Both already have job on their hands to win over the fans and press. Villas-Boas is paying the price for not being media darling and fans favourite Harry Redknapp.
Whilst Rodgers is tasked with replacing club legend and icon Kenny Dalglish, as well as proving he was the better alternative to former Liverpool manager and European cup winner Rafael Benitez, who has already admitted he wanted his old job back this summer.
You can draw comparisons with both men. Both are a breed of ’new age’ managers (or what Harry Redknapp may describe as ‘b****** managers’) both young and armed with powerpoint presentations and 108 page dossiers.
Both speak in technical jargon, both have their own philosophies, and both know that unless victories arrive and arrive quickly, the press will eat them alive.
Particularly AVB, who’s relationship with the British media is somewhat bizarre. Tottenham fans have been claiming there is some sort of ‘agenda’ against their new manager and their club since the Portugese took over in the summer. Most supporters appear happy with the appointment and are willing to give the former Chelsea man time. Let us not forget that this time twelve months ago he was regarded as one of the most sought after managers in Europe.
It evident there seems to have been a breakdown of communication and trust between AVB and the press somewhere along the line, as they seem to be intent on derailing him at all costs.
The fact he was considered ‘under pressure’ before Sunday’s 3-1 victory at Reading is simply crazy, and you wonder what the issue could be?
Perhaps the fact he will always be compared to his mentor and Porto and Chelsea predecessor Jose Mourinho will forever haunt him.
Mourinho’s swag and controversial style made him a firm favourite with the press, his ability to generate headlines with a nonchalant dig at another manager, club or referee made each press conference like gold dust.
AVB could be considered the exact opposite in this respect. When watching him interviewed at press conferences and after matches, you sometimes come away wondering if you have picked up anything from what he has said, often leaving baffled by the technical terms and standard football cliche’s.
His coldness and aloof nature does not help him, as well as his prickly responses to difficult questions.
This is not particularly endearing to the press, who long for the straight talking passion the likes of Harry Redknapp used to provide.
It remains unfair to keep comparing the two, but until Tottenham record a succession of victories this will remain the case.
The same can be said for Brendan Rodgers, who’s ‘philosophy’ is coming more under scrutiny with each game Liverpool fail to win. Worryingly for Rodgers, he has not recorded a win as Liverpool manager in his last four games in all competitions, the last being away to Hearts on August 23rd.
The deadline day fiasco has also not helped. Liverpool’s owners came away with the majority of the blame, but you could argue that Rodgers stubborness over the Andy Carroll situation was the root of the problem.
The vast majority of Liverpool fans wanted Carroll to stay and be given an opportunity, but Rodgers unwillingness to give him more than ten minutes of action led some to question his ability to come up with a plan B, and use the tools at his disposal to the best of his ability.
Rodgers is another who speaks in technical jargon, consistently talking up his style and philosophies, so much so some of the media have compared him to Ricky Gervias’ creation David Brent, a vein and deluded character from ‘The Office.’
These comparisons are somewhat harsh, but you can also see an element of truth due to the way Rodgers appears to have extreme self belief that his way is the right way.
Tonight’s Europa League campaign starts for both men, and both could really do with a positive result. The pressure put on both so far has been somewhat unfair, especially when you consider both need time to implement their new styles.
Rodgers in particular has had a very tough run of fixtures to start his Liverpool career.
AVB has been positive this week by coming out saying he hopes to win the competition as he has previously done with Porto. Whilst Rodgers has opted for the more cautious approach, only speaking of the players he will be resting in an attempt to keep players fresh for Sunday’s game against Manchester United, which already has a must win feel about it for the Reds.
But first and foremost, a win tonight for both would give them such much needed breathing space. For now at least.