Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

10 ways Brendan Rodgers has transformed Liverpool

Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring the second goal by kissing the steadicam during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring the second goal by kissing the steadicam during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

1. COURAGE OF HIS CONVICTIONS: When Brendan Rodgers arrived at Anfield in June 2012, he did so with a philosophy of how he wanted the team to play. Pressing and passing, passing and pressing. Strong at the back, stylish and dangerous in attack. He wanted his side to win and to produce attractive football at the same time. In his early months he was criticised as Liverpool's players struggled to adapt to his methods. Under pressure, lesser men would have gone against what they believed in and tried something different. Not Rodgers. He stuck to his principles and boy has that paid off.

2. EMERGING FROM KING KENNY'S SHADOW: Replacing the iconic Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool boss would have been difficult for Pep Guardiola, let alone someone who'd only had one season as a Premier League boss at Swansea City. With the Kop doubting his credentials, Rodgers had to be tough, knowing that in time he would prove good enough to show the fans he belonged.

3. GETTING RID OF THE DEAD WOOD: The Ulsterman was aware that the squad he inherited could not compete with the best in the Premier League...so gradually he moved out players like Pepe Reina, Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam, Joe Cole and Stewart Downing who didn't fit his plans. Recruiting well is crucial for managers. Releasing the right players is important too.

4. GIVING YOUTH A CHANCE: Rodgers has never been afraid to do this. Raheem Sterling and Jon Flanagan are just two kids to flourish under him.

5. KEEPING LUIS SUAREZ: When the Uruguayan striker threw his toys out of the pram in the summer and demanded to leave Liverpool, Rodgers stood firm. Suarez (pictured) stayed, was told exactly where he stood by the straight talking Ulsterman and after his 10 match ban for biting was incorporated back into the set up perfectly. Now Suarez, loving life on Merseyside, is on his way to being Player of the Year. Top class man management from Rodgers.

6. DEVELOPING SAS: Others have failed to get the best out of Daniel Sturridge, but he is fast becoming a world class operator under Rodgers and his partnership with Suarez has developed into a spectacular scoring success. In the past perhaps seen more as individuals, today they are playing for the team.

7. CAPTAIN'S CALL: Moving Steven Gerrard into a deeper midfield role was a masterstroke.The skipper is in majestic form.

8. NEW IDEAS: Brendan is a keen reader and is fascinated by the workings of the brain. An admirer of the respected psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, who had previously lifted the GB Cycling Team, among others, to great heights, Rodgers has brought him in to work with the players to good effect.

9. CLEVER COACHING: With his training ground work Rodgers is improving his players tactically, physically and mentally. Jordan Henderson is a fantastic example of this. Close to leaving Anfield, he opted to stay and with his manager's guidance has matured into an excellent performer. He has become a vital cog in the Liverpool machine.

10. UNITING THE CLUB: Liverpool have endured troubled times in recent years at boardroom level and on the pitch. No more. What Rodgers is achieving has helped to unite the club. That togetherness can take Liverpool a long way.

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