Five reasons why Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers should not be sacked
Calls for Brendan Rodgers’ head to be placed on the chopping block are ludicrous. But that hasn’t stopped some fans of Liverpool showering Social Media with such views.
Yes, Liverpool fans are stereotyped as being the most impatient in England, which is saying something seeing as Newcastle fans also exist, but they really need to ‘calm down’ as they say on Merseyside.
Rodgers himself said at the weekend: “At this moment in time we sit in fifth, we've reached two cup semi-finals - it's probably on par with where we're at.” That’s quite an honest quip.
If Liverpool are to advance as a football club over the long-term then they must stick with the Irishman. There is no quick cure at Anfield.
Here are five reasons why Rodgers must remain in the hotseat, with the first reason being the key to longer-term success for the club.
1. Consistency is the only advantage Liverpool can have over their rivals
Manchester City like to chop and change their manager anytime they don’t win the title. Manchester United’s Louis van Gaal will be gone in 25-months’ time. Arsene Wenger is nearing the end at Arsenal and could well be gone by the same time van Gaal retires.
Jose Mourinho’s length of stay at Chelsea is anyone’s guess, but going by his history as well as the football club he is at — that marriage may not last too long. So what has that got do with Liverpool?
If the Reds hold any advantage over their rivals above them in the table, it’s that they have a young manager who can stay at the club for at least a decade. Preferably more. This gives them the opportunity to evolve their squad, plan ahead and introduce youth team players into the dressing-room.
If Liverpool stick with one manager over a long period of time, then they can remain consistent while all those around them are restarting new regimes every couple of years.
Liverpool can’t outspend United or City or Chelsea or Arsenal - but they do have one advantage over them if they hold on to one manager with a long-term plan. Evolving a squad may take years to come to fruition but it is Liverpool’s only hope of getting back to the top.
The alternative at Liverpool is to sack managers every couple of years just like Spurs do — another team starved of Top 4 finishes. Spurs are clearly not at the sort of level Liverpool aspire to but that’s where they will be stuck if they mirror the clubs around them by swapping managers every 24-months. They can’t better the big four ahead of them by outspending them, they can only top them by remaining consistent. Yes, it may take four or five years to work, but sticking with one manager is their best hope.
2. He almost won the league - and is now paying for that success
It’s bizarre that some Liverpool fans want to rush Rodgers out the door when he was the gaffer who oversaw Liverpools’s greatest ever Premier League campaign. Let’s be honest, Liverpool finished second twice before last year, but last season was the club’s only realistic chance of being crowned England’s champions.
In an illogical way, Rodgers is now being compared to his own success. When the Irishman took over at Liverpool, they had just finished 8th on a measly 52-points under Kenny Dalglish.
It must be pointed out that they surpassed that points tally in March this season. Have Liverpool advanced under Rodgers? You betcha! But despite climbing up the table from the disastrous campaigns that were 2009-10 (63pts) 2010-11 (58pts) and 2011-12 (52pts), Rodgers is being bizarrely compared to his magnificent second season in charge where he totaled 84-points and almost won the title.
It’s understandable that Liverpool fans are dejected this season as it hasn’t lived up to the magical campaign of the year previous, but that success is not the sole thing to judge Rodgers on.
Rodgers is only 42-years-old, is considered one of the greatest young managers in European football and must be considered a long-term appointment. He has Liverpool amassing more points than the club amassed for the three seasons before his appointment, under a very strict transfer policy. He’s advancing the club.
Yet his biggest problem seems to be that he advanced the club too much last season. Suddenly being fifth in the table (higher than they were for three years before Rodgers took over) AND getting to two domestic semi-finals isn’t good enough. Admit it Liverpool fans, you are comparing Rodgers to his brilliant over-achievement last year. Totally unfair! He has brought the club forward in comparison to where it was for the three years before he was appointed.
3. The standard of football at Anfield is as attractive as anywhere in Europe
They may not be setting Europe on fire in terms of results, but Liverpool have arguably been the most attractive free-flowing football team on the continent since Rodgers took the reigns. This year their main goalscorer has been plagued with injury after injury and they have suffered in front of goal because of that, but it can’t - or shouldn’t - be forgotten that the Reds bagged a jaw-dropping 101 Premier League goals last season.
They did that by pressing opposition teams high up the pitch and when they won the ball back, their quick-flowing movement both on and off the ball made them a menace for defences. It was also beautiful to watch.
You can see that the team are trying to mirror that effective movement this term, but a lack of quality at the end of those moves is the key difference. If Rodgers continues to implement that free-flowing approach and he can find himself a fit finisher, then Liverpool can replicate their brilliant goalscoring form.
From midfield to attack, Liverpool use the ball intelligently and it is a joy to watch. There are some great teams in Europe - much better than Liverpool in terms of grinding out wins - but there are very few teams who are prettier to watch. Rodgers has carried over the Liverpool traditions of Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly by building his philosophy around attacking football. That is a rare approach in the modern game and Rodgers should be applauded for it.
4. He has the respect of the players
“He came in, a young manager taking a huge job and to have the impact he’s had in such a short space of time is phenomenal really.” The words of outgoing Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. “For me, he’s one of the top managers in the world. We just have to make sure we keep on putting in the hard work and listening to what he has to say. If we do that then we’ll keep going in the right direction.” The words of Liverpool’s next captain Jordan Henderson.
Now, it’s no shock that players would hail their manager, he does after all have final say over their place in the team as well as their next contract, but proof of Rodgers having the respect of the dressing-room has been evident on the pitch too.
The players are remaining disciplined in terms of following orders - a true sign that the manager, and his methods, are respected. Fair enough, results haven’t been great the season (although better than they were before Rodgers took over) but you can see that Rodgers is experimenting with young players and has a definite game plan that they are all buying in to.
He spent big money last summer, but the bulk of that was on young individuals who fit his system and who will only grow in to better team players.
Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno and Divock Origi were all 21 or under when purchased and it’s proof that Rodgers’ plans go way beyond just of this season. He has bought players that will develop in to his system and, despite poor results, the players seem to fit it well and are more than willing to play for their boss and buy in to his project.
If Liverpool sack Rodgers, than that large investment last summer will have been a massive wasted of money. Rodgers bought these young players to evolve them in to his team. Bringing in another manager means bringing in another philosophy and big money would have to be spent again.
5. No top-level manager will work under the FSG regime
Ever wonder why Roberto Martinez turned down the Liverpool job? He couldn’t work within the constraints handed down by owners FSG. They set up a transfer committee and wanted to play ‘moneyball’, ie assess and buy players based on statistics versus value. Martinez was baffled by not having total control over transfers and decided against taking the Anfield hotseat. Months later he would become manager of their bitter rivals Everton.
While Martinez knew a big offer was forthcoming in the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers found the lure of Anfield too good to turn down. He agreed to FSG’s strange transfer policy.
If he is sacked this summer, who are Liverpool going to employ? Jurgen Klopp? There is more chance of a snowball surviving in hell then Klopp accepting the terms on the table from FSG. Simply put, Liverpool have a young manager at the helm who is willing to put up with the current roadblocks at Anfield and he knows how it works. The club will struggle to find a top-class manager who would agree to work under the same rules.
Belfast Telegraph Digital