By Sam Albiston (@salbiston93)
The decision of John Henry and his colleagues at the Fenway Sports Group to
dispense with the services of Kenny Dalglish was met with widespread derision
by many fans, despite the disappointment the decision should not have come
as surprise. John Henry has a reputation as a winner, we where aware of this
when he arrived, and the decisions he has taken since then have served to only
further strengthen this appraisal. To put it bluntly, Henry does not tolerate
failure and his record at the Boston Red Sox will testify to that and he does not
let emotion or sentiment get in the way of his decisions, this is surely a positive
trait. This ruthlessness and desire to win, has been evident in the past three
months with the sackings of Damien Comolli as Director Of Football, Ian Cotton
as Director Of Communications and of course of Dalglish himself. It would be
difficult to form an argument, that any of these men where succeeding in their
respective roles. Although Comolli’s role in transfer dealings has never been
made entirely clear, we can safely assume that in his role as Director Of Football,
he was ultimately responsible for them. The subsequent failure of those signings
ultimately cost both Comolli and Dalglish their jobs. It is a strange world where
those responsible for the poor performances (i.e. the players) are not the ones
punished, although football is a strange world.
As many of us will be aware, there are numerous parallels, which can be drawn
between the Boston Red Socks and Liverpool particularly at the time of the
Fenway Sports Group’s acquisition of them. Both where clubs or franchises
steeped in history, but which by comparison to their rich history had been
experiencing a lean period in recent years. Crucially, the Fenway Sports Group
where able to bring the glory days back to Fenway Park with historic World
Series triumphs in 2004 and 2007. The manager at the time was a man called
Terry Francona, naturally owing to the teams recent success, Francona had been
elevated to the point of local hero, in fact the regard in which he was held was
almost as high as our own Kenny Dalglish. Success in sport in cyclical, at some
point even the best teams have a blip, and the Red Sox experienced their blip in
September 2011 losing 20 of their 27 matches that month. Given their success
over the years, this would seem by many to be a blip whereas in reality it was
much more than that, the Red Sox had blown one of the biggest leads ever in the
history of Major League Baseball. Perhaps a sentimental man, or a less ruthless
man may have looked upon the collapse differently, but for John Henry this
constituted failure, and in to him failure is unacceptable. Naturally, Francona
was dispensed of ahead of the next season in much the same way as Dalglish has
been dispensed of at Anfield. A fans opinion on the sacking of Kenny Dalglish is
dependent on their definition of success, is success defined by trophies in the
cabinet or is it decided by your final league position. For John Henry and his
compatriots at Fenway Sports Group, it is the latter. The situation was handled
in ruthless if slightly insensitive way, but as John Henry had proved only months
earlier he is not a man who relies overly on sentiment.
The choice of Brendan Rodgers, as the man to replace Kenny Dalglish may seem
a curious one to some, however upon closer inspection he might just what
the club and particularly FSG have been looking for. If you cast your minds back to when Fenway Sports Group last sacked a Liverpool manager for poor
performances (Roy Hodsgon), it was no secret that they wanted young talented
manager with fresh ideas to come into the club. As it transpired, no suitable
replacement was available at the time and the job was given to Dalglish on a
temporary basis. In the beginning, the ambition was for Dalglish to take the team
through to the end of the season, at which point a new appointment could be
made, someone more in keeping with the vision FSG had for the club. As we all
now know Dalglish’s impact was instant, improving not only the performance
of the team but seemingly restoring a bit of soul to the club which had been
seriously lacking. Such was Dalglish’s impact, that FSG where almost forced into
handing him the job on a permanent basis a failure to do so what have been
unthinkable. It should be considered at this point that Kenny Dalglish was not
the man John Henry had in mind to take the club forward, Brendan Rodgers
however strange as it my seem to some is that man.
Comparisons between John Henry’s actions at Liverpool and his actions in
Boston, can be extended to his choice of coach. It is clear, that when Henry
appoints a coach or a manager, he is looking for a man with fresh ideas, for
Liverpool that man is Brendan Rodgers and for the Boston Red Sox it was a man
called Bobby Valentine. Bobby Valentine, although not as young as Brendan
Rodgers shares the characteristic of not being hugely experienced at least not
recently in their respective competitions. As we all know, much of Brendan
Rodgers career has been spent managing teams in the championship and the
youth team at Chelsea, and in much the same way most of Bobby Valentines
senior coaching career was spent in Japan. These facts, suggest that not only
is Henry searching for innovative coaches, he himself is innovative in terms
of where the coaches are appointed from. Although it is still early in Bobby
Valentine’s career in Boston, the early signs are good, the Red Sox have won over
half of their games in first two months of the season, if Brendan Rodgers can do
the same then he will have answered his few doubters.
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!
I received this email from Warrior:
We’ll be opening up the Liverpool FC store tonight for the new Liverpool kit launch and I thought you might be interested in coming down.
We’ve invited local fans to come and be the first to purchase the kit at 00.01am tomorrow morning when its officially on sale.
Pre-orders have been through the roof so we’re expecting a good turnout.
There’ll be plenty of content available, people paying for the shirts at the tills, people going to pick it off the shelves and touching the shirts / showing in to their mates etc, getting all of the reactions to the different design elements of it.
There are also going to be hot promo girls giving people Warrior tattoos!
The club shop is located at the Kop End, Anfield, Anfield Road, Liverpool, L4 0TH.
Swansea City have confirmed that Brendan Rodgers has agreed to take up the vacant managers job at Liverpool FC. After weeks of intense and on the whole, irritating speculation linking EVERYONE to the LFC hotseat, it is the forerm Watford and Reading and Chelsea Youth manager who will fill Kenny Dalglish’s shoes. The Redmen TV react to the news and bring you the uncensored comments of Liverpool fans from around the world…
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The decision has been made, John W. Henry and the Liverpool directors have decided to appoint Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers as Kenny Dalglish’s successor, according to several high profile media sources such as the BBC. The news has been met with a fairly positive reaction, of course there will be sceptics, but I think fans are willing to give Rodgers a chance. Rodgers has been given a 3-year contract and Liverpool have reportedly had to pay around £4million compensation to secure his services.
Rodgers is known for his continental approach to football management, after travelling to Spain in his early twenties to observe the philosophies of clubs such as Barcelona and Valencia. He guided Swansea to an 11th place finish in their first Premier League season, which has impressed pundits and journalists a-like. It also seems to have impressed the Liverpool owners.
Some may argue that Kenny Dalglish used traditional and outdated tactics but that flaw is not likely to be repeated with Rodgers, who is a young manager with fresh ideas. And what better place to learn than under the stewarship of Jose Mourinho, where Rodgers was manager of the Chelsea reserve team in the mid-noughties alongside the Portuguese manager.
Only time will tell how successful Rodgers will be, but with time and patience from the fans, I think that Rodgers’ new approach could benefit the club in the long term. If an experienced Director of Football is appointed to assist him from above, steps are definitely being made to catapult Liverpool back to where they belong.
Welcome to Liverpool, Brendan.
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The BBC and many other news organisations are reporting that Brendan Rodgers has signed a three year contract with Liverpool to take over the helm as manager of the club.
Welcome to Anfield Mr. Rodgers, you have my full support.