Patience is not a virtue that is typically respected by all in the world of football. When results a lackin then a manager could last only a short few months in a job. With the impressive Brendan Rodgers announced as the new man to lead Liverpool, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) must exercise extreme diligence and equanimity under their new man’s reign if the potential success of the appointment is to come to fruition.
The club had been linked with a host of big names including Fabio Capello, Frank De Boer, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Martinez, who reportedly turned down the job because of the increased management structure the club wished to put in place. Rodgers had similar concerns, but after the Wigan manager rebuffed their approach FSG dropped the idea which included employing Louis van Gaal as a director of football. They then turned back to their leading candidate who was willing to accept the move from Swansea with complete control of the team being offered.
The Northern Irishman has received much acclaim for the way in which he has set his teams out to play. Regardless of the quality of players, Rodgers insists on a possession-based passing game. Coupling control of the ball with crisp interplay and movement, the goal is to outmanoeuvre and tire their opponents. This is clearly borne out in the fact that Swansea defeated Manchester City and Arsenal on route to an 11th placed Premier League finish in their debut season.
Swansea also ended the season with the fourth best pass completion rate in Europe’s top five leagues, with only City bettering them in England. It is this attractive style of football that has won Rodgers so many admirers in England, but he remains a relatively inexperienced manager at the top level. The decision evokes some concerns as it represents a gamble for FSG so they must offer their ultimate backing to their new man. He will need time to instil his philosophy among the players and get the team working as a unit if he is truly to benefit the club.
Liverpool have a reputation as one of the biggest clubs in the country but they have failed to participate in Champions League football since the 2009/10 season. Rodgers now becomes Liverpool’s fourth manager in just two years but he must not be expected to challenge for an immediate return to Europe’s top competition. The club have not only bought into the man, but also his philosophy. They must therefore employ a greater degree of patience than under Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish, even if results are not instantaneous.
The hiring is a risk, and it offers Rodgers the greatest challenge of his managerial career. But lest we forget, the 39-year-old worked under Jose Mourinho as reserve team manager at Chelsea and gained the admiration of the Portuguese. It is a proven route to success. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left his post as Manchester United reserves manager and went on to win the Norweigan championship with Molde and is now attracting interest in the Premier League. Pep Guardiola also went straight from managing Barcelona B to the first team and ended up as the club’s most successful ever manager with an insurmountable 14 trophies. Whilst Marcelo Bielsa at Athletic Bilbao and Jorge Sampaoli at Universidad de Chile have proved that with the right philosophy, glory could soon be in tow.
There could be a source of instability in the fact that the club have put their higher-tier management structure plans on the back burner. If things do not work out immediately then FSG may well regret their decision to forego their original plans. Any appointment at a later date could create friction, but Rodgers should thrive with the free reign he is set to be given.
It could well prove to be a shrewd appointment with a youthful, modern coach who claims inspiration from the Netherlands and Brazil sides of the 1970s. Yet it is of the utmost important that FSG and the Liverpool fans maintain prudence. As long as the club do not go backwards then the supporters will be happy. They can look forward to attractive football but must remember that Rome was not built in a day.