Liverpudlian comments on the appointment of Brendan Rodgers and the owners’ long term strategy for Liverpool FC.
In my last piece, Managing expectations and change at Anfield I discussed the negativity regarding the process in appointing our new manager and in particular my dismay at the amount of friendly fire that the club were receiving from those allegedly with the best interests of the club at heart. Now that an appointment has been made I hope those same people will now stand behind the new man and let him get on with the job, but for those who still feel the need to register their discontent at the choice made, I ask you, why are you doing this?
In an ideal world, only two candidates really stood out, but one wanted a sabbatical after the pressures of managing the best team in the world and the other was wallowing in the glory of replacing that team as Spanish champions. Let’s be honest, neither was realistically going to change their short term plans to suit us anyway, so let’s get real here.
Rafael Benitez’s name was mooted in many quarters but there were as many doubters as there were supporters and what is not in dispute is his antipathy towards his employers at times of duress. Yes, during his reign our credentials, in terms of our status in Europe, were exemplary but it looks now as if his inclusion as a possible candidate was never really up for discussion anyway.
They say never go back though and like Kenny, obviously that would have applied to Rafa too, but any ongoing bitterness regarding the treatment of Kenny has to be put to one side now and not be allowed to deflect in what is best to take the club forward. The decision was made because, cup runs aside, whichever way you look at it, our campaign last year was a disaster on and off the park. Now I love Kenny to bits and I was one who actually saw him replace the irreplaceable, i.e Kevin Keegan and then go on to become the greatest in our player in our history. Add to that his managerial success, but even more, his role after Heysel and Hillsborough, and that ensures Kenny will always have a special place at Anfield. That is not in dispute here and never will be, but this is business now and I am afraid sentiment normally plays no part in success.
Consequently then, the intention to look for a young, hungry manager to build a legacy at the club over time was clearly laid out at the outset by the owners. We are being told they had involved some of the most knowledgeable names in the football world to help formulate an infrastructure within the club to take us forward and that the manager would be the figurehead of a continental type set up with layers of management that is obviously somewhat alien to the English game. Some suggestions indicated that the Barcelona “model “ is the framework they are trying to replicate and if that is the case, then that will do for me.
We now know that there were a number of people interviewed but two names dominated the speculation in Roberto Martinez & Brendan Rodgers and the latter former Swansea manager has come up on the rails, literally, to defy the odds and get the job when Martinez seemed primed for the role despite the irritating, ongoing commentary from his chairmen. The young Spaniard, we are being told, declined the opportunity to work here because of the potential imposition of a director of football and it is perhaps significant that the position will not now be filled anyway.
The clamour for information during the last week was understandable if perhaps unhelpful in the eyes of the clubs decision makers. They were trying to conduct their affairs in a quiet dignified manner ( aka the Liverpool way ?) mindful that any official statements may be open to potential misreporting at a sensitive period of negotiations. Subsequently then, despite choosing his words carefully, that single interview by Ian Ayre was universally misinterpreted to suit the various agendas of mischief and headline making.
Meanwhile and significantly, an American reporter highlighted on the radio that the vacancy for the Boston Red Sox job took two months to finalise. In admitting that this sort of time scale was obviously inappropriate over here due to differing pressures, the fact that the short list had been narrowed down so quickly was, in his eyes still impressive. As a Ryder, he also confirmed that FSG have very deep pockets of something in the order of 1.6 to 1.9 billion pounds and not afraid to invest in their ventures.
Subsequently then, with the compensation package agreed with Swansea, their manager and his backroom team have now come to Anfield and FSG have indeed got their number one target. Having spoken eloquently and confidently, yet so humbly at yesterday’s press conference, you would like to think anyone with doubts regarding his suitability for the role will at the very least now give the lad a chance. Even at his introduction, Brendan was asked if he felt he had to “win over the fans” as part of getting on with his job and he responded admirably. Let us hope that this is now only a very insignificant minority of us because if not, then it is a sad reflection of the calibre of our supporter nowadays as opposed to a time when we were recognised as the most knowledgeable in the land.
A pessimistic attitude and constant carping from within, at a time like this, only helps our opponents while compromising our own progress. As fans we have to be careful we do not become part of the problem. Just let the owners continue to get on with their job and not let any festering, lingering resentment from the Hicks and Gillet regime taint our reaction and judgement to every eventuality and we may yet find that formula for success that we all crave.
Our new manager said at the press conference something about aligning the team up to the fans whom he declared were amongst the best in the world. Some of us need to start proving that again.
Intriguing times indeed to be a red.