As Liverpool embark on the conclusion of a season of immense progress, PJ Vaughan looks at how Brendan Rodgers has transformed a team that finished seventh last season into one that currently sits top of the table.
If Liverpool win the title this season it will not be because of luck or because we didn’t have European football. If we win the league it will because of one simple reason. Brendan Rodgers has got his players to perform to the maximum of their abilities.
Every team that wins are lucky. I wrote about that previously in my piece on Liverpool having a winning DNA. Also the European argument is silly. Liverpool had no European football two seasons ago and finished eighth.
David Moyes got sacked from Manchester United for a number of reasons. United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League was below what United considered the bare minimum expectations. Cost the club millions in future revenue. Results against WBA and Fulham were simply not good enough. The manner of some of the recent defeats would have alarmed the board greatly as United looked devoid of a plan. However the principle reason he was sacked was that he failed to get his team to perform anywhere near the maximum of their abilities.
Early fears of Rodgers
Many fans were unsure about Brendan Rodgers when he was appointed as Liverpool manager. Some were equally unsure about Rafa Benitez in his early months as Liverpool but his CV convinced fans to give him a chance. Brendan Rodgers CV didn’t buy him any time.
These worries heightened after a poor display and poor result against Aston Villa at Anfield in December 2012. These worries reached fever pitch a few days later when Liverpool lost 3-1 at Stoke. The forums were full of discontented fans that had a multitude of gripes with Rodgers. There were concerns about the players he had recruited, but also the fact we struggled against strength and pace. Fans would get anxious at Anfield every time our centre halves would exchange passes with Reina or the full backs.
Thankfully results improved after Christmas. Even when results were poor some of the fans still backed Rodgers as they could see the roots of what he was trying to achieve. It never got to a stage like it did under Roy Hodgson namely the Blackpool and Wolves defeats that the fans lost all faith in the manager.
Hodgson never got the players to play to their maximum in fact he spoke of lowering expectations from his first days in charge. Rodgers never put a ceiling on what his players could achieve. After the Chelsea match in the festive season Rodgers told the media that Liverpool had to play all their title rivals at home. While the media might have written off Liverpool’s chances neither he nor his players had.
Great Managers get the most from everyone
Alex Ferguson was the master of maximising his player’s abilities. The proof of Ferguson’s greatness that he often won the league with teams full of average players with a spine of world class players. Most players that left United would never perform at the same level as they did under Ferguson.
Although it’s early days it’s clear that Rodgers has a similar impact on his players. Jordan Henderson has gone from a good player to a great player. Raheem Sterling has brought a level of consistency that is that usual for such a young player.
However the greatest proof that Rodgers gets the maximum from his players is Jon Flanagan. Last year Liverpool could not find any club to loan Flanagan in the Championship and only one club in League one were interested. Fast forward 12 months and Flanagan is performing to a very consistent level for the first team.
The next time a fan of another clubs tells you that Liverpool are lucky. Or it’s only because they had no European football this season. Tell them it’s not luck it’s because Brendan Rodgers has got his players to perform to the maximum of their abilities and that is why we are the best team in the league.