That the blow came so soon after the Northern Irishman indicated that second-place may not be beyond the Merseysiders, leaves Rodgers with something akin to egg, on his face.
It’s difficult to understand how the sentiment formulated anywhere within the Liverpool camp at all. To meet such an aspiration means splitting the Manchester clubs for a start, and for Liverpool, that looks as likely as the prospect of full employment on Merseyside!
Undoubtedly. He was, from the moment he took the Anfield hot-seat.
Liverpool fans once had a reputation for being perhaps the most knowledgeable and considerate in the land. Like the rest of football these days however, patience and consideration are commodities in shorter supply at Anfield.
Listening to the BBC’s excellent 606 weekly Phone-in at the conclusion of today’s games around the UK, callers from the red half of Liverpool expressed dissatisfaction with the latest Anfield Revolution. At best, for Rodgers, he was praised for doing a good job, but the same caller went on to say, “Yeah, but he’s learning his trade. We need someone who’s ready. They shouldn’t come here to learn.”
Others expressed that Liverpool are now no better than a mid-table outfit these days, another suggested if an experienced proven manager was not on the shopping list, then they should have given the role to Jamie Carragher. In a fit of pique one typical Scouse wit suggested that, “ . . . . . . . . Liverpool these days couldn’t finish their dinner,” a direct reference to the lack of goal-scoring prowess throughout the team.
The percentage of Liverpool fans answering yes, to this question, has diminished since the beginning of the season. Rodgers back then seemed to have the majority of fans on his side, with most prepared to accept rhetoric like, “Things may get worse before we see improvement,” and, “This is a major undertaking.” Almost half a season on, the patience of fans is being severely tested. Fans have a tendency to forget the recent past; Dalglish’s wasteful ineptness in the transfer market, the disastrous Roy Hodgson reign, and the relative, gradual slide against past glories, under the stewardship of managers ranging from Roy Evans to Rafa Benitez.
It’s fair to say that Rodgers inherited an inadequate squad by Liverpool standards, and was given relatively little funding to re-build – Dalglish had frittered the treasure chest away. The new man spent what he was allocated on Joe Allen and the young Italian striker, Borini. Allen may yet prove a useful addition, but the Italian looks out of his depth, and has been injured more often than fit.
Rodgers wasn’t allowed to pursue an interest in former Fulham striker Clint Dempsey, even though he felt so sure to get his man that he let misfit Andy Carroll, go off on loan to West Ham, the day before the last transfer window closed. Rodgers didn’t state it publicly of course, but the feeling of being let down by his new club’s owners must have been quite profound. It left his cupboard bare of strikers.
From what we see of Rodgers in public, and there’s quite an unreasonable amount of transparency due to the crazy, Channel 5, fly-on-the-wall documentary, Being: LIVERPOOL, which presumably the club agreed to for reasons best known to themselves, he’s a boss who prefers to lead using an “arm round the shoulder” approach, and a desire to improve "the group" through constructive criticism and encouragement. It’s a trait that comes across in his post-match interviews too, and probably one that’s become tiresome to some fans, eroding patience to threadbare proportions.
Perhaps the time has come for harsh words. But does Brendan Rodgers have this in his locker?
If he does, the evidence is not public, and perhaps that is how it should be. To read between the lines however suggests reasonable doubt exists.
There can be no question of Rodgers’ ethic for hard work, or his decency as a human being. His intelligence is beyond reproach as well. Why else would he be held in high regard by Jose Mourinho, and attract the attention of Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini in his search for coaching staff, before Rodgers took control of Swansea? Being boss at the Liberty Stadium is one thing, but is the Liverpool hot-seat a bridge too far, too soon?
His footballing philosophy is epitomized most successfully in his relatively short spell as manager at Swansea City of course, but there are those that will suggest luck played a part, in that much of Swansea’s development as a passing team, was already set in motion by two predecessors; mainly Roberto Martinez, and to a lesser extent, Paolo Sousa.
Previously at Watford, he had some success in turning around indifferent fortunes, but left too soon for Reading, where he failed, remaining for only 6 months before leaving through mutual consent.
It may be that Rodgers’ strength is in developing players, mentoring and coaching, not necessarily being in the manager’s hot-seat, and if the Irishman actually does get sufficient time at Liverpool, we should soon discover the answer to the question.
If Liverpool fails to show promise in challenging for Champions’ League football next season, another Anfield managerial change will be on the cards before Rodgers’ gets time to celebrate a second anniversary as Liverpool boss.
On the other hand, should he maintain control at Liverpool for 24 months, it will not only equal the longest managerial posting he’s ever maintained, it will also suggest significant improvement in the playing fortunes of the former European kingpins has been realized, for nothing less will be required to guarantee job security.
Maybe Brendan Rodgers should not get too cosy.