Tests await for Rodgers' Liverpool successor

Liverpool's new boss will be expected to reinvigorate and rejuvenate an underperforming squad

Afp October 05, 2015
Brendan Rodgers PHOTO: AFP

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool have begun their search for a new manager, but whoever comes in must grapple with many of the issues that caused problems for the sacked Brendan Rodgers.

After a moribund conclusion to the previous campaign, the writing was on the wall for Rodgers and Liverpool's fortunes were not deemed to have improved sufficiently for owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) to stand by their man.

Liverpool's poor start to the season raised the question of whether FSG's blueprint for success was flawed, or if the man chosen to implement it had simply failed.

Read: Rodgers refuses to panic after latest Liverpool stumble

Owner John W Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon answered that question unequivocally with the dismissal of Rodgers after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Everton in the Merseyside derby, which left the club 10th in the Premier League.

"They have got to get the feel-good factor within the club, which we haven't had for a while now, and maybe that might have tipped the balance with the owners," said former Reds striker John Aldridge.
On recent evidence, the case for Rodgers to have been given more time was not without holes.

Liverpool's second-half display at Goodison Park summed up much of what has gone wrong for his side, who were disjointed and lacking direction.

Rodgers maintained that his players were "giving him everything", but the staleness of recent displays -- which had yielded one win in nine games -- suggests they will benefit from a managerial reboot.

However, it is significant that FSG will expect Liverpool's new boss to reinvigorate and rejuvenate an underperforming squad, rather than rip things up and start again.

In other words, it will be a repetition of what those in Boston wanted when they gave Rodgers the keys to Anfield three years ago.

Loyal to their strategy, FSG will seek a far-sighted coach, prepared to get his hands dirty in the moulding and developing of players, rather than a manager who provides a quick fix.

That would appear to make charismatic former Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp the stand-out candidate.

Ajax manager Frank de Boer could also come under consideration, but it would take a revision of FSG philosophy for an elder statesman such as former Chelsea and Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti to be targeted.

FSG need Rodgers' replacement to be a success to vindicate their approach, or face the prospect that they will become the focus of supporters' ire. The cracks have appeared already.

Those with their fingers on the pulse at Anfield -- former defender Jamie Carragher among them -- have taken a swipe at FSG's running of the club in the wake of Rodgers' departure.

"They've made a lot of decisions since they've come that haven't worked," said Carragher, who highlighted the sackings of Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish, as well as the failings of the club's transfer committee.

Read: Liverpool turnaround just a matter of time, says Rodgers

"At this moment the owners' track record in making decisions for Liverpool Football Club over the last two or three years has not been good enough. It is miles off.

"What are these owners of the club going to do to get Liverpool back where they need to be?"

It is hard to disagree with Carragher's assertion that the five-time European champions have become a club seemingly in a permanent state of transition during Rodgers' spell in charge.

And whoever takes over will face many of the issues that so challenged Rodgers, particularly with regard to the nuances of Liverpool's recruitment department.

Although he has been swimming against the tide, Rodgers can count himself unfortunate.

Any manager would have found it difficult to replace talents of the calibre of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard, not least when transfer decisions were made by committee.

Managing Liverpool, one of world football's most iconic clubs, can be seen as a dream job.

But marry the level of expectation and the weight of history with the modern constraints, and it can quickly seem something of a poisoned chalice.


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