x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Brendan Rodgers hiring will buck the trend at Liverpool

At 39, without a background at Anfield or a record of winning trophies elsewhere, the appointment represents a bold break from the past.

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

In December 2009, a club perched precariously above the relegation zone in the Championship parted company with their manager. In itself, that is not surprising.

The threat of demotion to League One often prompts such departures. It is what happened next that has been extraordinary.

The club in question, Reading, are recent additions to the Premier League. The manager then facing an uncertain future, his reputation damaged and his prospects dubious, is expected to be confirmed as Liverpool manager today.

The rise of Brendan Rodgers has been nothing short of remarkable.

After a solitary season as a top-flight manager, without making a first-team appearance as a player, he has been selected to succeed Liverpool's greatest player and the winner of four league titles in the dugout.

Following Kenny Dalglish is not going to be easy, especially given the demands owners Fenway Sports Group are placing.

If last season provides a guide, silverware is not enough. Lifting the Carling Cup did not save Dalglish's job.

Champions League qualification was the main goal and Liverpool, 17 points adrift of fourth place then, have a vast gulf to bridge if they are to achieve it next season.

Hence, perhaps, such an adventurous choice. At 39, without a background at Anfield or a record of winning trophies elsewhere, Rodgers represents a bold break from the past.

His immediate tasks involve persuading the doubters - and the large band of Dalglish diehards in particular - that his success at Swansea can be replicated at Anfield, that he can win as a favourite as well as prospering as an underdog.

If he can transport the style of play that earned his former employers the nickname "Swanselona", it would be a start.

Pass and move was long the Liverpool way and none passed with such frequency as Swansea last season.

It is not merely the results that have earned him such a sudden elevation, impressive as Swansea's have been. Eleventh place was a tremendous achievement for a side with probably the smallest budget in the division.

Taking four points off Liverpool, without conceding a goal, was one indication of their prowess, wins over Arsenal and Manchester City others.

The challenge for Rodgers is to prove his methods, his man-management and his excellent recruitment are transferable skills.

Having prospered with a £3.5 million (Dh19.9m) striker (Danny Graham, much Swansea's biggest signing last season), he now has a £35m forward, in Andy Carroll.

The budget will be bigger at Anfield, but the egos may be, too. Certainly the scrutiny will be greater.

Rodgers has the quiet confidence of a man who believes he will succeed.

Remember how quick he was to rule himself out of the reckoning for the Chelsea job; he believed a chance at an elite club would present itself, rather than desperately touting himself around while he remained the flavour of the month. And it has.

He has gone from overachievers to underachievers, from obscurity into the limelight. It is quite a turnaround in his fortunes. Now he has to turn Liverpool's around.

sports@thenational.ae