New Liverpool manager determined to earn respect of supporters
LIVERPOOL // Brendan Rodgers, the new Liverpool manager, conceded he will have to earn respect at Anfield on being plucked from relative obscurity today after his successful spell at fellow English Premier League team Swansea City.
In arguably the most low-key managerial appointment made by the fallen English giants in a generation, the 39-year-old Rodgers was preferred to Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, despite having only one season's experience in England's top division.
That year, however, proved to be a highly successful one, with Swansea City finishing 11th in their first season in the Premier League and earning plenty of admirers because of the Welsh team's attractive, possession-based style of play.
Tom Werner, the Liverpool chairman, said Rodgers was a "forward-thinking coach at the forefront of a generation of young managers and will bring to Liverpool attacking, relentless football".
The Northern Irishman had a limited player career at home before embarking on a coaching career, becoming manager of the Reading academy at just 22.
"I was never the big player. I had to go down a different route which was on the coaching field and earning my respect that way," Rodgers said.
"Hopefully over time I'll earn respect [at Liverpool]," he added.
Rodgers will be charged with improving Liverpool's fortunes in the league after a disappointing eighth-place finish that was sealed by a 1-0 loss to Swansea City on the final day of the season.
It was the 18-time English champions' lowest league placing in 18 years and saw them finish 17 points off a Champions League qualification spot, the minimum goal of the club's American owners.
That led to the termination of club great Kenny Dalglish's contract, who won the Carling Cup to end a six-year trophy drought at Anfield.
Fenway Sports Group targeted the hiring of a young manager to replace Dalglish and also held talks with Martinez. But it decided on Rodgers, who was once a youth-team manager at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho and has also managed second-tier clubs Watford and Reading.
"My pathway as a young coach has been different to most managers," Rodgers said. "I have actually been coaching and working in football for 20 years. At Chelsea I had experience of working with big players. I look at Kenny Dalglish, he was the manager [of Liverpool in 1985] at 34 and resigned at 39. I arrive here at 39."
Rodgers said his footballing philosophy "has been a fusion between the British and the European".
"The single biggest influence would be Jose Mourinho, purely because he gave me the opportunity," he said. "I learned many things from Jose. He is a great man and the biggest thing he did for me is give me an opportunity and show belief in me, and give me that chance to work with top players."
Qualifying Liverpool for the Champions League will be Rodgers' first task, with the ultimate aim being a 19th English title to match the record haul of bitter rivals Manchester United.
"It's an aim for every manager at a top club," he said. "That's the holy grail, but also, in time, we want to be challenging for the title. For me, and it's not going to be straight away because that's not realistic, winning the title is something we want to achieve. It's not just aiming for fourth place.
"The Champions League is fantastic and that's where this club wants to be. 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."
Liverpool ruled English football in the 1970s and 1980s but have not won the league since 1990. They remain one of the world's most famous and successful clubs, having won the European Cup/Champions League five times - behind only Real Madrid (9) and AC Milan (5).
"This is a club that's based on fast, attacking, offensive football," Rodgers said. "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."
Liverpool will have to pay compensation to Swansea City – reported to be in the region of £4 million (nearly Dh22.5m) - because Rodgers had three years left on his contract at Liberty Stadium.
Published: June 1, 2012 04:00 AM