The Fenway Sports Group, owners of Liverpool Football Club, ventured down a surprising route recently.
The Group decided to hire Brendan Rodgers of Swansea F.C to replace Anfield icon Kenny Dalglish as the Reds manager. The decision to hire Rodgers was announced after the former Swansea manager beat out the likes of frontrunner Roberto Martinez, Andres Villas-Boas and former England manager Fabio Capello.
The move has taken Rodgers from a relatively low-key club in Swansea, into perhaps one of the toughest jobs in football today. Liverpool had a sub-par season in last year’s Barclays Premier League, only finishing eighth place, seventeen points behind a Champions League birth.
The Champions League, as Fenway Sports Group have not been shy about saying, is an absolute must for the club and is the minimum requirement for a campaign to be dubbed as successful. Rodgers embraces the challenge.
“The Champions League is fantastic and that’s where this club wants to be,” Rodgers said. “I’m very much a realist. It’s certainly going to be a few years in relation to where the team is at now. It will need some investment and it will need time for me to work.”
Rodgers is perhaps downplaying any unreasonably high expectations Anfield diehards might have going into the new season. However, Rodgers will spend his tenure with the Reds under the international spotlight. Dalglish left, what some would call, a mess that needs to be cleaned up when managing the Reds to their worst finish in 18 years.
“This is a club that’s based on fast, attacking, offensive football. But I’ll repeat, it’s very important to have tactical discipline within that. Your philosophy and your principles will always be governed by the players.
“There is a fantastic squad here, some terrific players, but there is no doubt I’ll need to make maybe two, three or four additions to try and get that flow — and it will take time to put that in place.”
Rodgers obviously has some changes in store for the Liverpool squad, but changes are necessary as the American owners do want to see, at the very least, improvements if not an immediate birth into Champions League football.
Local Liverpool fans have a lot to say about the matter.
“To be honest I am all for King Kenny but change is good sometimes. He [Rodgers] is definitely the right guy for the job but I have a feeling being in the spotlight may cause him to make rash decisions and choke on games he should have in the bag,” explained local Liverpool fan Xander Robertson. “I think it is a strong idea, Rodgers took Swansea far but I don’t know if he is really up to the job, I hope he is though.”
While being understandably cautious because of Rodgers lack of being in the international spotlight as well as big game experience, fans still remain optimistic. When asked about the changes Rodgers spoke about, Robertson had this to say, “I back his decisions all the way, I mean if you look at what he did with Swansea and the success he brought to their club, Imagine what he could do for us [Liverpool]… if, of course, he does it right.”
Other Liverpool fans, however, still feel the pain from Dalglish’s exit, but look forward to the future.
“It was sad to see Dalglish go, but I feel like Rodgers will help the team a lot. He’s had a lot of experience with Swansea and brought success to their club, I think he’s ready to bring Liverpool to the top,” commented local Liverpool fan Hollie Fenton.
“I feel that is a great signing for Liverpool because he has worked with Chelsea football club and has a lot of experience and was able to guide Swansea to being a premier league side and playing attractive style of football. I think [Fenway Sports Group] have made an excellent choice of Liverpool’s next manager,” stated local squash superstar Cameron Stafford, a loyal fan to the Reds.
However, football fans from around the league have noticed a bit of distaste in the Merseyside fan base.
“As a football fan, I can tell you I think the lack of top tier experience has left Liverpool fans a bit unhappy with the decision, but the style of football he played with Swansea is a positive sign for Liverpool; if they are able to replicate it,” said Matt Day, a local Newcastle United and very avid football fan.
There is no doubt the football world is questioning the decision, though Rodgers is capable, his lack of experience could be his ultimate downfall. The Fenway Sports Group and the Liverpool fan base are hungry for success and all are hoping that Rodgers can be their knight in shining armour. Only time will tell whether or not he can step into the shoes of one of Anfield’s greatest legends. Time, however, is not on Rodgers side.