Brandan Rodgers and the Brave New Dawn

By Aitch

So here we are… Year Zero.
I liken it a bit more to a Ground Zero personally, since I’m still not entirely convinced that the almost armaggedoon-like moves of the last few weeks, weren’t motivated by incidents over the last 5 months, and not the last few weeks…
… and made entirely with “our” best interests at heart… but on this, some will agree and some will continue to disagree.

So Year Zero…
Brendan Rodgers is “their” man… and as “their” selection, he is now OUR Man too.
Some will be enthusiastic about that.
Some will, to varying degrees, be less so.
But he is Our Man, and… unlike Hodgson, who clearly positioned himself as anything BUT “our man” right from the off… his words thus far suggest that he is deserving of us giving him our support.

I personally do not like the manner in which this change was made.
I remain unconvinced that it was a change that was entirely necessary.
But change we’ve got.

I disagree with those who suggest we “forget about the past” and embrace this change.
I believe there is enough historical evidence to suggest that those who do that inevitably fail to learn from history… and repeat it.
There is a seemingly desperate yearn in certain sections of LFC’s fanbase, to “put these things behind us.”
And while I understand the desire… it supposedly makes life easier… it is often an ill-advised tactic to “put things behind us” when those things truly haven’t been “put to rest yet.”

For example, those suggesting that we needed to “put the Evra/Suarez affair behind us” are overlooking the fact that we can’t…
…coz we’ll play them at least twice this season… with two “handshakes” being required…
…and regardless of what may or may not actually transpire… the press haven’t “put it behind them”, they get far too much mileage out of such things, and will bleed it for everything its worth.
Frankly, if the media weren’t falling all over their own backsides to distance themselves from their positions taken during the Evra Bollocks, so that they can now take great umbrage at the racial slight cast so unfairly on Rio Ferdinand… we’d already be splashed across the back pages courtesy of a relatively innocuous comment tweeted by Pacheco to Glen Johnson.
(although this issue may get well and truly put behind us this summer?)

There is much to discuss regarding the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool Manager.
Some of that discussion will require reference to Rafa, Hodsgon, and Kenny… like it or not, that’s just the way it is.
It does require us, as it always should, to try to be honest and look at the big picture and all that those managers had to deal with during their tenures… and not just simply fall back on this innocuous notion that the “table never lies” as a way to avoid actually doing some in-depth analysis of the points we are trying to make.

The club has changed a lot over the last 10 years.
And change… real change for the better… change enacted to facilitate growth… seldom comes without some serious teething pains.
Attempts to drag it, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the “modern football world” have seen some of those changes be for the better, and some most certainly for the worse.
I’m of the opinion that the same can be said for the fanbase too.

We have seen cup success during these changes… all while the coveted League title has continued to elude us.
We held onto the long-coveted idea, during these changes, that we were a Special Club, different to the others… we as a fanbase boldly embraced this notion.
Now it is being suggested that cup success counts for nought, while an entry ticket to “the show” is all that matters… en-route to the elusive title.

Its not that I don’t understand this idea…. its that I think it a dangerous road to tread. (cups are separate competitions, but success is often a stepping stone to league success… not always obviously… the beauty of cups is that anyone on the day can win… just like Wigan beating most of the top 5 in the league… but the idea that you disregard cups to “prioritize” the league is dangerous.)

Brendan Rodgers spoke eloquently at his unveiling.
I liked what he had to say… not coz he said what I wanted him to… but because he sounded genuine.

We look to people’s records when rating them.
Some will look at what he did at Swansea and find it very impressive.
It’s no easy task to get promoted from the Championship, and then finish mid-table in the Prem… As evidenced by the fact that so few have done it.
There have been one or two managers that have… George Burley and Owen Coyle did.
But both then struggled to stay up in their 2nd season.
Owen Coyle, much vaunted for his managerial performance bringing a team up, then staying up comfortably… then struggled with relegation… then jumped ship (just as Paul Lambert has just done after impressing with Norwich then defecting to Aston Villa) and went to Bolton …before getting them relegated.
At this moment, both Burley and Coyle, and their teams, are in the Championship.

There simply has to be a concern that Brendan Rodgers… based on his record at Swansea, could have been the next Burley/Colye.
Time alone, would have told… and that might very well be an unfair comparison of him to them… but it doesn’t make their circumstances any less similar…
…and now he’s got to prove himself above those managers… not at Swansea… but at Liverpool.
I’m sure Swansea fans have expectations… I’m positive they are not even remotely similar to the expectations that LFC fans have.

I am of the opinion… not shared by those who accepted our previous manager’s dismissal… that Brendan Rodgers is inheriting a pretty good side.
There were under-performers last season, players who did not meet reasonable expectations, let alone unreasonable ones. He’ll need to get them playing.
But this is not where my concerns FOR Brendan Rodgers (not about him) begin.

What is his brief going forward?
What target/goal has he been set by FSG?
Under what structure will he be performing?
How much will he be given to spend, in order to achieve those goals?
Is “wage reduction” still part of that brief? And if so, how big a part?

Its all well and good getting “excited over a bold move for a young progressive manager”…
…. But these questions… and I’m sure a few I haven’t included… are forefront to Brendan Rodgers ability to succeed in his first season at the helm of LFC.

Will the core, or spine of the current team be kept in place?
Pepe has spent a lot of years with us already… is he willing to give Brendan a few more?
That is a very important question?

Skrtel and Agger? I can’t imagine anyone thinking we do not need to keep both and have them start as many games as possible together next season… yet Jamie Carragher was mentioned, by name, by Rodgers in his press conference as “crucial to moving forward” or some such thing.
I agree we need to keep senior players… people often overlook their value to the team in ways that go beyond 90 minutes… but I’m hoping JC is willing to accept a part-time roll (with perhaps increased responsibility in training?) to be part of “moving forward” …and that remains to be seen.

And that’s before you get to players like Maxi and Dirk… who are not only on the wrong end of the age scale… but the wage structure also.
Both players bring a LOT to the squad in terms of a “brain for the game” …not to mention important goals scored at crucial times or in crucial games…

And so… the first departure from the playing staff, is not the “shite Downing” or “the useless overrated Adam”… but a hard-working grafter who scored some crucial goals… Dirk Kuyt.
Will Maxi follow him?

Replacing these two might seem an easy task… I’ve heard it said, we need a silky skills player than can beat a man… but how many silky skills players will then track back to help out Glen Johnson or Enrique in defense?? And how much experience will they have?

Obviously Dirk wanted more playing time… it’s a fundamental issue for most older players…. but how much of his decision to leave was guided by the club being more than willing to let him go to get 90k/week off the books.

I’ve seen calls from some fans, for the return of Aquilani and Cole… but regardless of their merits, both are on very high wages.
Are the owners willing to keep paying them their high salaries to be bit-part players?

And then there is Luis Suarez? … who I’m sure Rodgers would want to keep…
… but will the owners see him as “supremely talented” or a “thorn in their side” who could add 30 mill to their new manager’s war chest?

We have entry tickets to 3cup competitions this season.
Do we give a shit about them?
Will fans be more than willing to see kids fielded, against whomever we draw, and not give a shit about the result?
That has been the suggestion this season… I doubt that is gonna be the reality come August… or December…

The Europa League may very well be the bastard, red-headed step-child of UEFA… but it is International exposure and getting embarrassed off the field by some Eastern European no-marks would do this club no favors.

The Carling Cup might be insignificant but losing to, say, a Northampton in it, isn’t gonna please anyone…
And then there is the League That Doesn’t Lie… what eventual position next May, will be acceptable?
… to the fans?
… to the owners?

While Chelsea are out buying Edin Hazard and Hulk… others will follow…
…and its all well and good calling for us to sign the next Cisse, Cabaye or Ba… all three proved astute buys this season… but the operative word there is “proved” … coz at the time of purchase Newcastle didn’t have to “win a bidding war” for any of those 3 players…
So whatever structure emerges in the coming weeks… Brendan Rodgers has his work cut out for him… keeping as many of the current squad as he “is allowed” to keep, while adding quality to it.

I didn’t know much about Brendan Rodgers prior to this week.
He was Swansea’s manager, so I’d heard and seen him a few times. His team looked like it played good footy.
….But it is one thing getting journeymen on 10grand a week to give you their all week-in, week-out… in addition to wanting team success, these guys have a personal stake in being seen and getting offered a big ticket at a bigger club….
…Duplicating that at LFC with the same type of player, under the kind of pressure you get from the current Anfield crowd… or guys who might think they have essentially “already made it” is a bit of a different ball game.

I do not like the way he got here… but that’s not Brendan Rodgers fault…
… I did like what he had to say about that though… He showed the kind of dignity towards his predecessor that was both warranted, and would have been afforded by that man himself.
And it didn’t sound faked, or forced, or in any way condescending.

Through no fault of his own… there’s some serious PR spin being put on his appointment… and while I am in complete agreement that good PR is something we’ve needed for a long time…. the problem with PR is that it often isn’t genuine…
…there’s no reason why it couldn’t be… it just too often isn’t.
I am hoping that BR PR is genuine… and not just some dog-n-pony show.

Time will tell….
I am liking what I’m hearing (but I’m keeping my eyes and ears open.)

Fortunately… from what I’ve read and seen this past week… Rodgers seems to have a lot more going for him than either of the two “up-n-coming” managers I mentioned earlier.
He seems like a genuine guy… and maybe its about time an Irishman managed a club in the “Capital of Ireland”.

We’ve got a few months of interesting decisions coming our way yet before I’ll be getting all excited about things…
… like discovering this “new structure” that will replace the failed DoF experiment, and who will replace Steve Clarke…
….and all to be endured on reality television? …
… but with the right summer moves, next season could be very interesting.

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