New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers under pressure to perform at Anfield
By Emdad Rahman
Less than three years ago Liverpool’s new supremo was wondering whether the game which he had studied so long held a future for him, exiting the Madejski Stadium after being unceremoniously dumped by Reading.
It was a sharp downward spiral in the young manager’s career but certainly not the worst. The Ulsterman had started his football career as a defender for Ballymena United before being signed by the Royals.
But, at the tender age of twenty, Rogers suffered heartbreak as his football dreams were shattered by injury.
How fortunes change. Fast forward to the summer of 2012 and Brendan Rodgers, having learnt his trade under the great Jose Mourinho, is now acclaimed as one of the beautiful games most promising young coaches.
After the decision to relinquish ties with Anfield icon Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool fans waited and discussed in anticipation. Kopites know their football and the consensus was pretty much equal – it would require a huge man, with huge belief, and huge ambition to take this huge club forward again.
And that man is the ex-Swansea boss, a disciple of 'the special one'. Rodgers is an exponent of the beautiful game and his on-field philosophies have already borne comparison with some of the managerial greats of yesteryear and the modern era.
Indeed, it is learning the practicalities and the intricacies of the game under the great Mourinho, after serving many years as a dedicated student of the game is what testifies that Rogers ascent to the Liverpool hotseat is no fluke.
FSG have now resorted to their Boston Red Sox blueprint – choose a young, hungry and ambitious coach, bring in new, off the radar blood and nurture these charges under the tutelage of that coach and an expert backroom team.
It is no coincidence that Rodgers has been given three years. It is the same time the Red Sox took to consolidate, progress and win the World Series in baseball's MLB.
Outgoing Liverpool legend Dirk Kuyt believes that with Rodgers at the helm, the good times will arrive once again.
He told Liverpoolfc.TV: "From what I have heard from Michel Vorm, who is with me in the national team, he is a great manager and he told me he will be perfect for Liverpool and he will definitely lift the club up to a higher state."
A fiercely confident individual with a refreshing and relentless thirst for learning and self-improvement – he spent four days studying the work of Spanish national coach Vicente Del Bosque earlier this month - Rodgers has a fierce belief in his tactics and his gameplay is a throwback to the pass and move groove personalised by the all conquering Liverpool team of the 70’s and 80’s.
He has made it clear that he can never replace Dalglish as the King of the Kop and that sentiment alone has eased him into the affections of the Red clan. He is also independent and not a yes man, as shown when he refused to report to a line manager. And quite rightly so.
If Rodgers is to succeed at all, he must be given full reign and not be stifled by a domineering technical director, especially the overbearing shadow of an ex coach or manager of great renown.
The Special One is an admirer: “I like everything in him. He is ambitious and does not see football very differently from myself. He is open, likes to learn and likes to communicate.”
Rodgers has scaled the heady heights of the Premier League. He has also scaled Mount Kilimanjaro to support a chosen Cancer charity, but guiding Liverpool back to the summit represents his greatest challenge.
No pressure, Brendan.