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Is John W Henry a plonker for hiring Rodgers?

by Rob Dore | May 31, 2012

The rhetoric in some media regarding Liverpool’s search for Kenny Dalglish’s replacement has painted the picture of a farce. Clueless American owners courting all and sundry, unable to decide what to do next, who to appoint.

That point of view may sell papers and gain web views, because it’s entertaining. It creates a soap opera to fill the football void. Liverpool have become the comedy relief.

From an alternate point of view John W Henry, as the leading light of the Fenway Sports Group, has approached the task like a business man. He has interviewed the leading candidates, met them face to face. No doubt discussing his vision for the club and questioning the candidate to see whether he is the right man to bring that vision to reality. Trusting his judgement.

His last appointment was based more on reputation, nostalgia and the fevered opinions of the fans. With possibly a touch of naivety.

However, the man who rebuilt the Boston Red Sox and lifted the Curse of the Bambino is unlikely to make the same mistakes again.

Whether his methods this time round are appropriate and sufficient will depend largely upon the success of the man he has just employed.

Make Us Jolly, Rodgers

Exactly how high on Henry’s list Brendan Rodgers (39) originally featured we’re unlikely to ever discover. The party line will be that he is the preferred candidate and perhaps he is. If Pep Guardiola isn’t counted.

What they’re getting for their money is a hungry young manager who has impressed in his first season in the Premier League. He guided unfashionable Swansea to safety with 47 points, playing positive, attractive, possession football and attracting plaudits from all angles. Swansea even capp the season with a 1-0 win over Liverpool.

Before Swansea, Rodgers coached at Reading and then under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. He got his first managerial job with Watford in November 2009 at 35-years of age. He recovered from a rocky start to have a solid season, finishing 13th in the Championship.

He returned to Reading in the summer, didn’t do very well and left by mutual consent six months in. Swansea took a chance on Rodgers six months later and he led them to the Premier League in his first season, via the play-offs on 2011.

One good Premier League season on and he’s manager of Liverpool.

The worry from the Liverpool fans is that his rise is too rapid. One Premier League season isn’t enough to be sure. As their fourth manager in two years, they don’t want to be playing this game again in January.

Someone, somewhere will be proven right

The punditry on the subject will cover the whole spectrum of opinions. That means no matter what happens at Anfield in the next Premier League season, someone somewhere will be proven right. Nobody knows for sure what will unfold and luck is nothing to brag about.

What the Liverpool fans do know is that Brendan Rodgers will try to play positive possession football. Something which the club was once famed for and something which he’ll work hard to achieve. Regardless of how shallow his experience and callow his success, it has required great effort and dedication to get to where he is.

The two greatest managers in business today, Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, both enjoyed success early in their managerial careers, although Fergie had a difficult start at Old Trafford.

They also had inauspicious or near non-existent careers as players, just like Rodgers. The Northern Irishman managed just 12 senior games for Ballymena United before succumbing to injury following a move to Reading.

Perhaps Rodgers shares with them an unquenched thirst for success on the pitch, which drives them to success from the sidelines.

The future, no matter what you hear, is unknown and Liverpool fans can but hope that Henry knows what he’s doing and Rodgers is the right man for the job.

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