When Brendan Rodgers was first appointed manager of Liverpool Football Club, the reaction was mixed.
Whilst the Northern Irishman impressed at the Liberty Stadium in the Premier League last season, his experience at the top level is nothing more than a season in the hot seat, irrespective of his role at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.
That said, the club’s owners – Fenway Sports Group – felt they had seen enough in Wales to hand the former Watford and Reading chief a chance at a big club. Make no mistake, Liverpool is a big club, and it’s a big job for any manager.
Whilst success in recent times has been hard to come by at Anfield, the Reds still have one of the biggest followings in world football, as well as history and tradition that few others can dream of. That all played a part in Rodgers taking on the job. He was never going to turn it down.
"For me, the only way I was going to leave Swansea was for a big club and I mean a big club. It was an extremely, extremely difficult decision because my plan was always to stay here at Swansea for a number of years,” he told the South Wales Evening Post at the time.
“I have always been up front and honest. I have always said that I wouldn't be here forever and that one day I would go, but I honestly never thought the opportunity would come round now.
“In my life and in my football, I have been very happy in Swansea. But when an opportunity to work at a club which is more than a club comes round, it's a professional challenge which is too good to turn down.
“Liverpool are one of the dynasties of the game. They have won five European Cups and their status is up there with AC Milan, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich."
When FSG appointed Rodgers, they new exactly what they would be getting on Merseyside. Rodgers plays an attractive brand of football, passing the ball out from the back and gradually working forward. Much like Barcelona, the Swans often dominated possession last season, and were easy on the eye.
The most encouraging thing for Reds fans to note is that Rodgers managed to get a talented squad to play great football. Talented, but not exceptional. Sprinkle some quality players into the mix, like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, and you could be on to a winner.
That’s the thought process at least. Whether it will work out like that in practice, only time will tell.
It’s important to note that, for all the quality the Swans produced last season, they only finished 11th in the Premier League. Considering their promotion via the play-offs the season before, that has to be seen as a solid return.
However, the furor around their performances might have you believe that they did better than that, with 47 points to their name and a dip towards the end of the season.
Their star player, Gylfi Sigurdsson, has since signed for Spurs instead of Liverpool, whilst goalkeeper Michel Vorm was seen as the other top performer in Wales.
Joe Allen earned plenty of plaudits for his efforts last season, and he looks to be on his way to Anfield if the two parties can reach an agreement. It would appear a formality.
But is that the way the Reds should be going? Drafting in players who impressed with Swansea last season? And what about Dorus De Vries, who is warming the bench at Wolves? Would he add anything to the squad?
Rodgers clearly has money to play with, but is sticking to what he knows best at the present time. That will only take him so far, however, and at some stage he will need to broaden his horizons if Liverpool are to compete at the top level once again.
At Swansea, the manager built a team ethos that proved extremely successful, and he can’t be blamed for trying to do that again. But, every top team needs superstars, and with the backing of FSG, Rodgers could add serious quality without moving away from his trusted style of play.
If anything, top players will be drawn to the way Liverpool will be looking to play football next season, with the ball on the deck in a fast and free-flowing style. Allen has proved that he can play in this system, but there will be plenty of others who would love the opportunity, and could be of a higher caliber.
With less than a month to go until the start of the season, Rodgers is running out of time to make a big transfer splash for the Reds, and everything suggests he won’t be chasing big names before August 31st.
We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the right policy, but if Liverpool are to return to the Champions League, I suspect other players will need to arrive at Anfield before May ’13.
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