Rodgers walks alone in quest to rebuild Liverpool
Liverpool, we are told, are employing the wisdom of crowds. This Moneyball buzzphrase involves establishing a brains trust of experienced figures in analytics, development, recruitment, sports science, medicine and communications around Brendan Rodgers, their choice of manager for the foreseeable future.
It’s all very laudable and logical, especially when Liverpool are in danger of being lost in the Premier League crowd because of their failure to qualify for the Champions League. Rodgers, who insisted on not being restricted by the looming presence of a traditional director of football at Anfield, will need to make the most of his final say in determining both style and strategy.
Liverpool have not bought an instant panacea to the problem of falling behind the times. They have, however, invested in the intellectual capital of the brightest young British coach, who turned the footballing outpost of Swansea into a slice of tiki-taka heaven.
Rodgers is a symbol of change. With his typical Ulsterman’s grittiness, he holds similar values and virtues to the legendary Bill Shankly, whose approach to Liverpool was shaped by the privations of his upbringing in the Ayrshire coalfields.
Rodgers is grounded, but has a global vision. He is among those modern coaches who learn languages and seek enlightenment outside the UK. The predictable jibes that he is merely José Mourinho’s Mini-Me ignore the respect which his search for knowledge has generated. Poseurs do not get an open invitation to pick the brains of Vicente del Bosque, Spain’s World Cup-winning coach.
Some big decisions lie ahead. Andy Carroll would not seem a natural fit in a Swansea-style system. Noises off, from the likes of supposed suitors AC Milan, will form part of the pre-season soundtrack, but the harsh truth is that if he is sold, it will be at a huge loss.
Rodgers’ public acknowledgement of the importance of Luis Suárez signing a new contract is an indication of his thinking. The way Liverpool lost out to Tottenham in a bidding war involving Gylfi Sigurdsson’s salary is an indication of his problems. The promise of “one, maybe two” signings this week is an indication of his decisiveness.
He will develop players on the training ground and didn’t need stellar names to build a technically adept side at Swansea. Rodgers will not lack for advice, but ultimately, he will walk alone. That will make, or break, him.
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