Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers deserves our praise (Henry Winter, 23 Dec 2013, The Telegraph)
A careful plan is being put into operation at Anfield. Rodgers buys those such as Philippe Coutinho who suit his obsession with possession, inflicting on opponents “death by football”. There were doubts whether the slight Brazilian would cope with the physicality of the Premier League. Coutinho certainly looks at home now. Rodgers chose well. Joe Allen begins to justify the £15 million outlay.
Liverpool’s manager has made mistakes, and concerns remain over Fabio Borini and Iago Aspas while Nuri Sahin’s loan did not work out. Rodgers is fortunate to have good owners in John W Henry and Tom Werner.
As well as the flowing football, Rodgers’ players perform with a strong work ethic, the type instilled in him by his late father, who had him painting and decorating at a young age. “My father would work from dawn to dusk to ensure his young family had everything and I think you can see his philosophies in my team,’’ Rodgers said during his time at Swansea.
He sees the club as a family with everyone standing together. The team spirit engendered by Rodgers was demonstrated when Suárez squared the ball for Raheem Sterling to score against Cardiff City and the youngster immediately running to thank him.
Still those early maxims of Rodgers need revisiting. Bemusement followed his pronouncement that “the problem with being a manager is it’s like trying to build an aircraft while it’s flying’’. Now that Rodgers’ ideas are becoming reality on the pitch such statements will soon be staples in coach-education departments.
Rodgers is different. He is no Big Sam. He quotes Latin proverbs to his players. Addressing the media, Rodger is one of the most tactile managers I have met. He has always been quotable but now people appreciate the content properly. Discussing how he likes to train players, Rodgers once said: “You train dogs. I like to educate players.” Cue some hilarity. But he does educate players. Ask Henderson.
When Rodgers arrived at Melwood last year, the new manager sat down with the struggling midfielder. “We had conversations on what I needed to do to improve my game,’’ recalls Henderson. They also talked about whether the player should try a new start at Fulham. “I don’t want to go,’’ Henderson told Rodgers. “I want to fight for my place.’’ Impressed, Rodgers replied that if Henderson listened, learnt and improved, he would give him a chance. “He helped me to do better, always talking to me,’’ adds Henderson, now an integral part of the team.