The imminent arrival of Brendan Rodgers and three of his generals at Liverpool has been met with mixed reactions. The optimist front regard this as a breath of fresh air and can already savor the Reds playing the fluid total-football that Swansea City had accustomed all Premier League enthusiasts last season, while the pessimistic lobby insist this is a step backward and that with this appointment the Club has no hope of going forward.
While I am known to be quite an objective writer, today I wish to be bolder than usual and make a very incisive consideration. While I am aware that a lot of things need to come together for it all to work, I will present the pessimistic front with one name and one story: Arrigo Sacchi! Ever heard of him?
Arrigo Sacchi’s beginnings were very similar to those of Brendan Rodgers. The Italian was a staunch philosopher of zone marking and brought the concept to the Serie A, being scooped up precociously by Silvio Berlusconi for his Milan after he had shown what his game was all about in two seasons with Parma in the lower divisions. I clearly remember those days, and I also remember very vividly that the Italian media were saying that Sacchi ‘would not arrive to eat the panettone in Milan’, meaning he would not make it to Christmas. However, the 40 year old (at the time, another close analogy) persisted in his beliefs and in his first stint at Milanello Sacchi managed to take one Serie A title, one Italian Supercup, two European Cups (now Champions League), two European Supercups and two Intercontinental Cups! All that in three seasons!
Sacchi went on to be Italy’s national team manager for five years culminating in the World Cup defeat to Brazil on penalties in the US!
The point here is that Brendan Rodgers shares various analogies with Arrigo Sacchi. He is almost 40, he professes a different game to the rest, he does not come with a pedigree, and he represents the same risk factor Silvio Berlusconi took when he signed him up to manage a Club that had the likes of Van Basten, Gullit and Rikjaard to mention a few. So having top stars did not sway him from achieving what Milan represented in those years. They were at the time what Barcelona are today: the best team playing the best football.
So even though Rodgers might not ‘do a Sacchi’, why not give him the benefit of the doubt? Surely we can’t do worse than last season? FSG might have ‘done a Berlusconi’, and if we hit gold, I can already see everyone singing their praises!