Brendan Rogers: Did Liverpool Have The Beer Goggles On When They Chose Him...
Everyone has that one oddball, single friend. The one with an illogically inflated sense of self worth. The one that considers only the crème de la crème of the opposite sex as suitable dating material despite their own, somewhat lower than crème de la crème, attributes. The one that makes a big show of approaching the best looking girl in the trendy wine bar at the start of the evening, only to be politely rebuffed. Undeterred, they moved onto the second best looking person (who, incidentally, has watched the whole proceedings with the first person unfold) with a similar result. This pattern continues throughout the evening until the now embittered and slightly resentful friend, who has kept going out of sheer bloody mindedness and a refusal to be beaten, is finally successful with someone that a) they don't like and b) is below the standards that they probably deserve.
Well, Liverpool Football Club is that friend. The search for their 4th manager in two years took place last summer at the trendy wine bar and Brendan Rodgers appeared to be the lucky lady.
By announcing an interview process whilst not requiring those they approached to maintain a degree of confidentiality (though one must question whether the verbose Wigan Chairman, Dave Whelan, would have paid any attention even if they did) Liverpool’s owners (FSG) very publicly placed themselves at the mercy of their own fans and the potential candidates.
In reality the great looking people in the bar are few and far between. Established title winning managers do not take on development projects, which Liverpool FC are undoubtedly are. With the subsequent approach of Roberto Martinez and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers we were shown that, after their initial rejections, FSG had realised that the trick is to secure managerial potential as opposed to established talent. The great looking girl in the trendy wine bar that no one has noticed yet and who, consequently, hasn’t yet been given affirmation of how good looking she is.
A quick look at Europe’s major leagues provides consistent evidence of this. Last season saw the previously unheralded Klopp win the Bundesliga for the second season running. De Boer won the Eiredivisie despite no significant previous managerial experience (a relatively short spell as assistant manager of the national side his only role of note) and, most spectacularly of all, Antonio Conte secured the Scudetto for an unbeaten Juventus side following unspectacular spells at Siena and Atalanta.
Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini’s respective Real Madrid and Manchester City sides buck this trend but in both of those cases the unmatchable sums of money at their disposal provide a huge caveat. It could even be argued that Jose Mourinho is, in fact, a perfect case of the exception that proves the rule having squeaked past a previously dominant Barcelona managed by a Pep Guardiola who, before taking up the reigns of the Catalan side, was the embodiement of youthful potential.
Unfortunately, Liverpool’s recent form suggests that Brendan Rodgers is best described as the lady at the far end of the bar sitting by herself who looked worth every penny of that Verve Cliquot you sent across right up until you approach her. There is still reason to hope that he will bring back success to Liverpool, pushing them back to the top table of European football and challenging for the league title. Coutinho is an inspired signing and the partnership of Sturridge and Suarez (if Liverpool manage to keep him past this season) could be deadly. But the warning signs in recent results are there.
Proclamations that last night’s 2-0 away defeat to Zenit in the Europa league was the “near perfect away performance” are just bizarre and it cannot be ignored that Liverpool have won just one of their last 5 games (at home to a poor Norwich side). In Brendan Rogers, FSG have gone the girl who doesn't yet know how hot she can be. Let’s hope she turns out to be of a standard that Liverpool deserve.