I suppose as an aspiring journalist I have to try to be as unbiased as possible. But sometimes I need to let the inner football fan out, and get my opinion out there. That’s what this post is – as the title says – a rant. About Brendan Rodgers. Simple.
Where to start? Probably addressing what my actual opinion on Brendan Rodgers is. I don’t think he’s a very good manager at all. I’ll explain why in a second, but first, let me say I think he’s probably a good coach (yes, there is a difference). Indeed, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard said he was one of the best coaches at one to one with players he had ever had. That’s something I would expect of Rodgers, as after injury ended his career aged 20, he went into coaching, having roles at Reading and Chelsea. But that’s where he should have stayed – as part of the backroom staff. At all of the clubs he has managed, he has either been poor or relied on others for success. Let me explain by taking you through his managerial career…
In November 2008, Rodgers took charge of then Championship side Watford, with the Hornets just a place above the relegation zone. However, he won only two of his first ten league games as manager, leaving the club in the relegation zone by January. They did manage to turn it around and finish 13th, but after the final game of the season, Rodgers quit to join Reading, despite claiming he was “100 percent committed” to Watford the previous week. In total, he was in charge at Vicarage Road for 192 days. As Hornets fan Ed Perchard from In The Wolf’s Mouth (@WFCWolfsMouth) emphasises below, it was more his attitude which gave him a bad name in Hertfordshire. Here’s what Ed said:
“The abiding memory I have of Rodgers at Watford is of his stubbornness, his arrogance and his refusal to change his ways. He came thinking he knew the way to play football, as if he was just coming to enlighten us. And it didn’t work. We were an exciting but flawed team before him and he turned us into a dull and flawed team. He lucked out towards the end of the season that a couple of players hit great form and then jumped as soon as he could. Most Watford fans begrudge him because he moaned about people questioning his integrity when rumours linked him to Reading. Then he left a week later. I think we’re over it now, and I feel bad for him, as he seems to be less of an egomaniac now, but I’m really annoyed we didn’t get a chance to go and beat him at Anfield.”
As aforementioned, Rodgers decided to take the vacant managerial position at my club, Reading, the side he had previously been a youth coach for. I still have the programme for his first game in charge in Berkshire, a friendly against Chelsea in which we led 2-0 for the majority of the game before drawing 2-2. It was a sign of things to come, and we didn’t win any of our opening four league games in 2009-10, went on a four game losing run in October, so Rodgers was gone by the middle of December, with the Royals just one place above the drop zone. I honestly believe that if he had stayed in charge, then we would have been relegated that season. His tactics were negative, his signings were poor, and on the odd occasion we played well, it was more often than not Gylfi Sigurdsson’s brilliance that won us games.Was there anything positive to come out of his short spell at the Madjeski Stadium? Only the fact that one of the best managers in the club’s history replaced him. I suppose it’s where my dislike for Brendan Rodgers comes from.
In July 2010, Swansea City took a punt on Rodgers, and it’s where the Northern Irishman has had the greatest success. He took the Swans up to the Premier League for the first time since 1983 in his first season in charge, winning the play-off final against Reading (that’s why I hate him even more) and then guided them to a very respectable 11th place finish in the top flight. His tactics appeared to be a lot different to those he employed at Reading, and that’s where my criticism comes in. Rodgers took the reigns at the Liberty Stadium following the departure of Paulo Sousa, who had been in charge a year after the two year spell of Roberto Martinez. In my opinion, it was Martinez who installed the elegant free-flowing football that we now associate with Swansea and Rodgers was forced into using them. I am obviously prepared to give credit where it’s due, and getting promoted from the Championship, one of the most competitive and unpredictable leagues in the world, is an excellent achievement. Does it deserve an appointment at one of the country’s biggest clubs? Probably not. Here’s what Swansea fan Declan Terry, from Read Swansea (@ReadSwansea) had to say about Rodgers’ spell in South Wales:
“From the first game in which he took the reigns at Swansea, Rodgers proved everyone wrong. From the first game, he got the best out of all of the players and his signing of Scott Sinclair was genius. Under Rodgers, Swansea played breathtaking football at times and with that it got us promoted into the Premier League in Rodgers’ first season. He then guided us to safety quite comfortably in the Premier League the following season. At Swansea, Rodgers’ tactics were spot-on, he made us incredibly tough to beat and he showed he had the ability to be a top, top manager. It’s just a shame that it didn’t work out at Liverpool, but I hope he gets back to managing in the Premier League very soon because he is a very good manager – people seem the forget about the tremendous success he had at Swansea.”
In 2012, Brendan Rodgers’ biggest managerial role yet came around, as Liverpool appointed him following a disappointing 2011-12 season in which they finished eighth. In three seasons at Anfield (the longest time he’s been in charge of any club), Rodgers spent over £300 million, a lot of it on terrible players, yet did not win a single trophy. They finished seventh in 2012-13, sixth in 2014-15, and then that anomaly of a season in 2013-14 where they virtually had one hand on the Premier League trophy before crumbling at the death and finishing second. Why, in that season, did Rodgers suddenly become an incredible manager before returning to mediocrity the next campaign? Simply put, he didn’t. It was the form of key players, who all had one of the best seasons of their careers, which led Liverpool to second. It was coincidence that Rodgers was in charge when this occurred. Primarily, it was PFA Player of the Year Luis Suarez and his 31 league goals, followed by strike partner Daniel Sturridge (21 goals). Steven Gerrard (13 goals) had one final world class campaign, whilst Raheem Sterling (nine goals) had his breakthrough season which he failed to replicate in 2014-15. It shows how lucky Rodgers was to have those players in his squad at that time, it was nothing to do with how well he managed them. It was no surprise to me when he was sacked last weekend, he should have gone at the end of last season in my opinion. Here’s a selection of the reaction that the Liverpool Echo collected:
“In my heart I feel sorry for Brendan. He’s worked extremely hard, but in my opinion he’s not made any difference and improved the team.”
“It was inevitable he was going to go at some stage if results didn’t pick up. I didn’t think it would be so sudden, but in a way it’s a bit of relief.”
Before I move on to what is next for Rodgers, there’s one thing I have to address, and that’s his ridiculous interviews. When Nigel Adkins was at Reading, he was always crazily positive, but Brendan Rodgers is another level. I remember at Reading, he always talked about “world class vision” for the club, which even the most optimistic of fans knew wouldn’t come true. There’s a reason why there is Twitter parody account called Deluded Brendan with over 300,000 followers. I often thinking that many Liverpool fans need their heads checking, but maybe they are influenced by Rodgers, the man who said: “I am the same guy who nearly won us the league, but better”. I’d go a bit further than deluded to describe him.
So Liverpool’s future has been decided, with Jurgen Klopp being announced as the new manager as I write, but what next for Brendan Rodgers? The only current vacancy in the Premier League is at Sunderland, but the jobs of Steve McClaren at Newcastle, Tim Sherwood at Aston Villa, and perhaps even Jose Mourinho at Chelsea are looking unstable. Out of those four clubs, I would suggest Newcastle may best for him, but only if he can get it right like he did at Swansea. It’s a club with a large, passionate fanbase who have been starved of success for so long. If Rodgers can bring them that success, and in the short term that probably only means a top ten finish, then he can rebuild his reputation and make himself popular in the North East. There’s a lot of good players for him to work with at St. James’ Park, such as Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic, so it’s a great opportunity. Unlike Steven Gerrard, I am not putting him forward to be the next England manager. Come on Stevie, you’re an LA Galaxy player now, you can say what you like about Rodgers!
What is your opinion on Brendan Rodgers? Is he a good manager? Where should he go next? Let me know in the comments below or Tweet me @OllyAllen1998.