Being a Liverpool fan is fun. Well, I say fun, what I mean is quite the opposite; it’s usually as fun as a swift kick in the nuts. Since our adopted goateed Spanish messiah left his post in 2010 we’ve had a pretty shit time of it. The season before he left we finished second with the highest points total ever amassed by a runner up, a points total that would’ve won the league in every other season in Premier League history. Liverpool were a well oiled machine, the might of Carragher and Agger at the back, the attacking threat of Arbeloa and Aurelio down the flanks, the midfield magic of Alonso, Mascherano and the industry and pure striking power of Gerrard and Torres. That season we decimated Manchester United, Real Madrid and Aston villa in just over a week, playing the sort of football that had both the pundits and the punters drooling.
After scaling those heights it all started going a bit tits up, Alonso and Arbeloa left, Gerrard started getting injury prone, Torres starting acting like a sulky lesbian with M.E. and the people who were signed to replace them weren’t up to scratch (not naming any names like N’gog or Aquilani). Much of the blame was directed (correctly) at the board room. At the time we were under the tyrannous rule of professional Waldorf and Statler lookalikes Tom Hicks and George Gillet, who were more arsed about dipping into club funds to redesign bathrooms on their ranches than trying to turn Liverpool into a truly global power.
There were protests every game, marches, high profile emails and gaffs (“BLOW ME FUCK FACE!”), dirty laundry being aired, Jurgen Klinsmann’s phone was being texted, and to make things worse, the team were playing like a gang of dickheads. Collectively, a lot of eyes were taken off the ball. Liverpool were out of the Champions League. Rafa left, Hodgson was appointed, key players were disinterested, no money was available to rebuild. Since that moment on, a once proud sporting institution started to resemble a midget kicking itself in the head.
Then, after years of transfer targets falling by the wayside due to dithering and a lack of funds (names such as Walcott, Vidic, Alves, Villa, Barry), we finally got lucky when FSG came riding to the rescue on their big beautiful American horses, swinging their big thick dicks and promising changes. Money? Yes! We finally had some to spend, and how we spent it! After scrimping, saving and being frugal (Pennant over Simao anyone?) we finally had plans in place to buy who we needed to fit a system and start back on the road to recovery. 100m quid pissed down a drain later (with the exception of a certain Uruguayan with big teeth) and that blueprint was cast aside. We were starting to act like a business, something the club had never previously done. The sentimental (emphasis on MENTAL) support for Kenny Dalglish’s sacking was beautifully over the top and just so us.
So, a poor team, no manager, no plan, no director of football on the books? What now? Oh, I don’t know… how about a media feeding-frenzy regarding the new manager? At last count we were linked with Pep, Jose, Hiddink, De Boer, Laudrup, Klopp, Jogi, Capello, Gullit, Ranieri, Emery, Benitez, Villas-Boas, Rodgers, Martinez, Van Gaal and that bloke who runs Pret A Manger on Castle Street. It seems today the big boys have finally made their minds up, and the hopes, dreams, aspirations and historical significance (cause we love our historical significance don’t we) now rests upon the shoulders of one Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers was my personal choice for manager of the season last term because of the excellent work he had done with Swansea City, so why was there a niggling feeling in the back of my mind that worries me about his appointment. Then it hit me, is a sexual thing! He’s not a big name; he’s just a coach, a coach with one year’s worth of premier league experience. A coach who was relieved of his position at Reading a few seasons ago. A coach who isn’t going to generate a lot of excitement for fans, and probably players alike.
But, peel back the layers of this particular footballing onion however and you’ll find a coach with excellent philosophy who has learnt from some brilliant sources. He studied in Spain during his coaching education, under the coaching staff of Barcelona’s famous “Tika Taka” mantra, and also in Seville and Betis. He also had in a spell in Holland, out of pure “thirst for knowledge”. He applied these practises to the Reading FC academy and did such a good job he was picked up by Chelsea’s then boss José Mourinho to work with the reserves, again, picking up more knowledge. The guys had an education that most UEFA B-Licence holders could only dream of. There’s experience, and then there’s potential, which is what Rodgers offers us. As for his previous job ‘failures’ at Watford and Reading that many Liverpool fans will point to, I’ll point to Rafa’s CV and highlight Real Valladolid and Osasuna as too prime examples of a coach learning his trade.
In a recent interview, he spoke of his footballing philosophy in The Telegraph;
“People don’t notice it with us because they always talk about our possession but the intensity of our pressure off the ball is great. If we have one moment of not pressing in the right way at the right time we are dead because we don’t have the best players. What we have is one of the best teams. Leo Messi has made it very difficult for players, He’s a real team player. If you have someone like Messi doing it then I’m sure my friend Nathan Dyer can do it. It is an easy sell.”
Are we getting the glamour of Pep? No. Are we getting the cock-sure attitude of José? No. Are we getting the experience of Capello? No. What we are getting is a young hungry manager who wants to play football properly with emphasise on team-work and possession. Surely that’s an exciting proposition after the overly cautious football we’ve seen in the last 2 years? Time will tell if it was a sensible appointment, but from what I’ve seen from him so far definitely a step in the right direction. (Although what Andy Carroll makes of ‘Tika Taka’ is a different story, he probably thinks it’s a late night Indian dish)
Guest blog courtesy of @Semtex_Elvis. Give him a follow, he’s a lovely bastard.