Matt Ladson

Editor

“Death by football” – Rodgers explains his Liverpool vision

We had the privilege to meet Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and speak directly with him as he discussed a wide range of topics in a candid and intelligent discussion this week.

Brendan Rodgers

A sunny September afternoon saw a lucky group of Liverpool supporters from fansites, fanzines, podcasts and radio gather for a meeting with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers at the club’s Melwood training ground.

What was scheduled to be a short 20 minute introduction turned into over an hour of insightful discussion from the Northern Irishman as he covered topics ranging from the recent transfer window, his reasons for joining the club, tactical and technical requirements as a manager, his plans for the future and his idea of “death by football”.

There was an admission that the transfer window “didn’t quite go to plan” when, somewhat inevitably, the opening question focussed on recent events. But what followed was an hour of positive speaking and explanations of how he intends to get the most from his squad and build the club for the future.

The 39 year old explained that he felt there was a “sense of instability” around Melwood when he arrived and that he is here to stabilise the club, and while there may be some “pain in the short term”, he – and the owners – are looking at the long term.

It is the owners whom he explains were one of the major reasons for him joining Liverpool this summer. “I felt a real genuine honesty in their approach and how they want to go forward with the football club”, Rodgers explained.

He mentions the need for some “surgery” to be done on the squad and that some of the wages were “absolutely astronomical in terms of value and worth”.

“I knew there was going to be a bit of pain in the short-term, but hopefully for the long-term gain this is what we’d have to go through.”

Some of those pains he goes on to discuss, tactically explaining that more patience is required in the final third, and that the recent transfer window has left the squad “stretched to the limit”.

That though provides a chance for Rodgers to look at some of the younger players. “They have to [step up]” he admits. The boss speaks of a minimum of 25 games between now and January during which he says he may need to be “creative to find solutions” (tactically) and that players suffering from little injuries, it has been explained to them too, will need to “man up”.

Praise is afforded to Raheem Sterling, who Rodgers admits he had to “get into him a couple of times” this summer (no mention of the recent preview for the Fox documentary is required). “I’ve got to say, his response has been fantastic. He’s a kid now who is responsible”.

“He’s tactically getting better, and he’s a real threat on the field. I’m trying to keep him out of the media, make sure he stays focused and composed, give him the opportunities.” There are also mentions for Spanish duo Suso and Dani Pacheco.

On young players, Rodgers provides one of what turned out to many memorable quotes. After explaining his “inherent belief in young players” although “not blindly; they have to have the talent and personality”, he analogises;

“A young player will run through a barbed wire fence for you – an older player will look for the hole in the fence”.

Looking ahead to January, Rodgers explained that this month sees the new scouting team come together. He spoke of the need to find players of the correct “profile that’s going to fit in going forward”. Clearly, Rodgers isn’t happy to pay huge sums for players who “cannot play football”. Several times he mentions Liverpool being a club he sees as providing opportunities for young players and being known for their attractive style of play.

He explains that the only ‘percentage game’ he’s interested in, is the one where the team that dominates the game has a 79% chance of winning the game. “If you’re better than the other team, with the ball, you’ve got an 8 out of 10 chance, nearly, of winning the game”.

He discusses this tactically, and provides answers when asked how he combats teams who know that his sides enjoy playing the ball from the back and therefore press higher up the pitch. Here he mentions the importance of a goalkeeper being able to play with his feet, effectively making the game 11 vs 10 when in possession.

One thing that was clear was his admiration for the little midfield duo of Joe Allen and Lucas. Allen he spoke glowingly of and told us that we would see “another 50%” from him when he is played slightly more advanced – “the next line forward” – but that right now due to Lucas’ injury Allen will play the holding role as he knows how he wants us to play. At this point Rodgers begins to speak in detail on why he chooses three midfielders, “where the modern game is won”, and how they can either set-up in a 1 – 2 or a 2 – 1 shape.

Rodgers drew parallels with the current situation at Anfield with when he arrived at Swansea, where the Welsh side had the lowest number of goals scored (in the Championship). Later, he discusses new signing Fabio Borini, whom he says is better playing from the left but that he is doing a job for him on the right at the moment as Sterling – a 17 year old – is strongest on the left. When asked about Suarez’s role through the middle, he explains that he sees his strengths are him being in and around the box rather than out wide. “He’s so clever” he lauds.

Rodgers explains that against Arsenal perhaps the forwards were looking to play one touch, counter-attack style football, rather than taking two touches and controlling the ball, showing more patience in the final third, something he tells was discussed at half-time on Sunday. He also discusses the Arsenal defeat when explaining the tactics of the centre midfield, where Joe Allen was left exposed. “Sometimes players have a bad day. You’ll see a player give the ball away more in one game than they had in three or four games. We have to be more patient in the final third, you can’t score on every attack.”

“At the minute we’re so anxious to score, and then we give it away.” He explains that by keeping the ball, probing and being patient you can test the opponents.

“When you’ve got the ball 65, 70 percent of the time it’s a football death for the other team. We’re not at that stage yet, but that’s what we’ll get to, it’s death by football”.

It was the quote of the day. Somebody at Warrior should really rip up their ‘We come not to play’ slogan and replace it with ‘Death by football’.


• Credit must go to all parties involved in yesterday’s meeting. To Liverpool FC for showing great communications and openness to arrange this event. To those present for their quality of questions (not once were the names Andy Carroll, Clint Dempsey or Alessandro Del Piero used, this was a focus on what we have, rather than what we have not). And of course to Brendan himself for taking so much time to speak and engage with the supporters. He didn’t just provide a minimum response to questions and showed an eagerness to get his ideas and coaching philosophy across.

• I’ve noticed some sceptics claim this event was a response to the recent transfer window and was simply part of FSG’s PR machine. I can tell you this was definitely not the case and the event had been discussed several weeks ago.

• See also: Rodgers’ plans to keep Lucas involved during injury lay-off – a brilliant idea from the boss!

• You can download a large part of the meeting from The Anfield Wrap podcast here, and watch videos from the day provided by Redmen TV here.

See if you can more successful than Rodgers has been of late by trying your luck on the Football Rules slot game over at http://www.betfaircasino.com/. Why not try out the Live Dealer games as well, for that real casino feel.

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Co-founder of This Is Anfield. Writer for Bleacher Report and Metro newspaper.
  • tony ash

    Mesmerising

  • adrian

    Great to hear this i think we got a good man in charge.

  • sunburst

    Fantastic interview, well done to all involved. YNWA

  • TampaLimey

    I truly believe we have the right man at the helm, we need to stand by him and the team, and keep the faith. A great interview how I would have loved to have been there for that meeting.

  • psycho_chicken

    very very nice read. I sure hope we are in it for the long haul

  • Gwil

    “We have to be more patient in the final third” Something Gerrard needs to do more than anyone at the moment

  • Rederik

    Hopefully Brendan can turn things round for us and give us something to cheer about he deserves the support from all the supporters.

    • junior galtieri

      There can be no denial of that but i think we all have to accept the scale of the task on Rodgers hands and recognise that the glory that people like yourself were predicting at the start of the season is unlikely to materialise any time soon

      I can’t see there being much to cheer about this season and finboishing in the top half of the league would be an achievement when you consider how weak our squad is – not just in numbers but in quality too

      Rodgers isn’t entirely blameless as when you look at the clubs our summer targets ended up at – Adam Johnson at Sunderland, Gaston Ramiez tio Southampton – it’s gard to argue that with a bit more effort and persuasion he could have brought them to Anfield

      Still he’s been terribly let down by the owners – who simply don’t have the faintest idea of how to run a football club – let alone a successful one – and now hopefully realises that replicating his tactics at Swansea won’t necessarily spell success at Liverpool

  • Johngeorge

    Amazing you did not speak about the elephant in the room. Is he coming back in January or ate we buying another second rate striker??

    • Robbo

      Do feck off, there’s a good chap.

      • Johngeorge

        Another tosser who has never seen a league winning manager. He talks a goof game but when the pressure switches on and we are still struggling in November come back and ask the question then or are we going to spend £5mil on another untried forward? I only asked if he thought AC will return in January. This guy talks a good game but do you really think he will deliver? Personally I think he is well out of his depth, and the owners are not giving me much confidence either.

        • Redline

          Yes well I’m a T*sser whose seen THREE league winning managers at Anfield win EIGHT League titles between them in my lifetime (as well as a Treble & 2 different types of double in that time) & basically Johngeorge?

          I’ve seen us win the LOT & then? Go out there Better that just for the heck of it so can’t really say that to ME can you?
          In short? I agree with Robbo – if you’re Not going to be positive & give our manager that most precious of All commodities – TIME? Then f*ck off & Don’t come back.

          I mean, Gods if the likes of YOU had been around in Shanks’ time TWICE? First when he came & took 4/5 seasons to win Anything & then again when rebuilding his side & winning Nothing for SEVEN years? I doubt this club would be anywhere Near what it is today never mind out in front of all the rest. I suggest you bear that in what passes for your mind……………

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Howard-Shaw/100003624505526 David Howard Shaw

            I was there as well Shanks Paisley would never allow anyone to mess with player resources investment! And Neither would have allowed the anyone to start a season without enough strikers on the books.

            Time like the time given KD? positivity right!

            Time is 18 months to make good!

            And none of this mickey mouse Cup runs or Europa League it was not good enough last year!

            Lets hope BR takes us at least to top 9 league spot seeing he rid us of all those needless players and who needs strikers right!

            No one questions BR is a nice guy and that he believes he is a great manager

            Problem is and its not negative to point out the obvious FSG stripped the squad of player resources and BR is not in charge

            FSG is bleeding money in the States and were shocked at what they would actually get for their baseball team when they attempted to try and sell it.

            FSG is also stripping the RedSox of player resources their manager is complaining he can not compete.

            To be positive does not mean to be blind to reality so lack of player resources investment this year means last season “the worst in LFC history” according to many and the “mickey mouse cups” and the “unacceptable performance” might be remembered fondly.

            Also FSG not standing up to the EPL in the Suarez patsy issue is seen in a new light handshakes right QPR and Chelsea basically stands by their players and no handshake. And FSG orders compliance and Suarez is hung out to dry. Yes to be positive FSG made nice with the League and it helped the League and Patsy and Man U and and and thats it.

  • munyuktae

    sheer class…

  • Robbo

    Good stuff, I’m sure there are good times ahead ;o)

    • Johngeorge

      Robbo how old are you 14???

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharkio.fisher Sharkio Fisher

    Im a bit dissapointed, that we still dont know what happend, over the Dempsey fracas ? I think the majority of supporters wanted to know the truth. This one question needed to be addressed, so Imo this interview didn`t actually give we the supporters, any answers on who was to blame, for this rediculous transfer saga, involving AC going out on loan, and no replacement coming in, which as left our team unbelievebly short in attacking fire power, Lets hope Suarez, and Borini, dont both pick up injurys, at the same time, this would deffinately put an end too any hopes of our team, being able to compete in any game that comes our way. I love the enthusiasm that Brenden Rodgers has for the game, and im all for the youngsters too be given a chance, but this Isin`t the championship league, and even though i think Sterling, his a great little player, who has proven himself against some of the top players in the prem, he his a one off, and has we all know, the premiere league can be very uncompremising, to young up and coming players. Im behind my team and BR, but its going to be a very up and down season imo, more downs, than ups i fear.

    • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

      You really think BR is going to sit there and tell us exactly what happened? Or is he going to say lets focus on what we have and find ways to work with what we have.

  • Pencil

    The saddest thing about being Liverpool nowadays, is not about end up in top half of season every year or missing out of CL. But seeing fans shows no respect to past managers/players and shows no trusts toward the current ones.

    Fans just tried to take the easy way out by blaming and discrediting everyone rather than accepting the failure of their team on pitch. That sooner or later will kill the group

  • Peter

    This guy is only talker. Ideal for yankees to save money. Class manager would ask money for quality. Bottom table at christmas. Last Rafas guys Skrtel and Agger will be sold next summer at high price.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Howard-Shaw/100003624505526 David Howard Shaw

    “Death by lack of player resources investment”

    50 million actual money invested in player resources by FSG period

    Player roster cut (player investment resources cut)

    Only two strikers with experience (player investment resources cut)

    “The transfer window did not go plan” Translation; i am FSG and do what I am told

    Rest of the article; “Blah blah blah stability Blah blah blah long term blah blah

    blah genuine honesty blah blah blah surgery pain blah blah blah percentage

    game goal keepers who use their feet blah blah blah FSG rah rah rah blah blah

    blah

    starting to look like this site needs to be renamed “This is FSG Who Are Great Really”

  • Yaseen Noorani

    Why is he trying so much to be like Shanks by talking about runnig through a fence and fighting for his life for the club etc. I bet he said similar things back at Swansea, and it’s not just him, all footballers and managers are in the same boat, that is why I have recently lost most of my interest in following football (club) very passionately. Now i’d rather go out and play football with my mates than absosb myself in watching a game on TV

  • sideshow_bob

    Great piece. It should be so bloody obvious that the guy deserves time that it really shouldn’t need saying. We are 3 games into the season ffs. Not sure what people mean by saying he is “just a good talker”. Isn’t motivational speaking an important skill required by all managers? Plus he isn’t just “talking” about playing football the right way, it is clear from the off that the decision has been made to do exactly that even if means results suffer in the short term. Don’t get me wrong, BR hasn’t been perfect since he arrived (who is?). Personally, I wouldn’t have spent 15m on Joe Allen, even though he is very good at what he does, when we needed more goals and creativity in the team. Overall, though, the guy has done more than enough to warrant our patience and respect. We need to stop talking about other managers, and move forward together.

  • DoctorRED

    Rodgers style and compassion is very encouraging and i hope slowly and steadily, we will be back to the liverpool way..however having said that i think the width between our central defenders is too much to cover , which may lead to a lot of fouls near the box, and i say we give Coates a run in the centre along with Kelly once in a while, that way we could be shaping up for the future, and Suarez really needs to get clinical with his finishing , so far its just not good enough