Brendan Rodgers had the chance to work with Louis van Gaal when he first became Liverpool manager in 2012, but rejected it as he didn’t want a figure who would act as an intermediary between him and the board.
According to the Daily Express the Northern Irishman told Reds owner John W Henry that he didn’t want a sporting director to be put in place, despite the fact that Van Gaal had been interviewed for such a role following the sacking of Kenny Dalglish. It’s thought that Henry was interested in adding the Dutchman to his board-room set up, but Rodgers wasn’t keen on the idea of someone occupying the position and so vetoed the plan.
The Liverpool boss has made it clear that he operates in a certain way and, unfortunately for Van Gaal, it would seem that a scenario wherein they could co-exist was impossible whilst the 62-year-old was aiming to act in a superior role.
"I'm not sure how many people the club spoke to but certainly for me coming in, I was always going to work with a team of people, rather than for a director of football," Rodgers said.
"I always think the manager is the technical director. He is the man who oversees the football development of the club, and I believe you should take on that responsibility when you are manager.
"I work best whenever I have clear communication lines with owners.
"My only failure – if you can call it that – was when I had something in between at Reading, which was when I had a director of football.
"One of my strengths is to communicate upwards, and if I can't do that, or if the message is watered down then I don't work the same.
"For me it was important that when I came in (to Liverpool) I didn’t want those lines blocked.
"It's not that I can never work with one. But I felt it was important, with all the work that needed to be done, and the size of the job I took on, that I needed to have the full responsibility in order to do that job. And I think the owners backed that."
Van Gaal now
Since his failed attempt to land a role at Anfield Van Gaal has of course been appointed as the head coach of rivals Manchester United. Having taken the Netherlands to the World Cup semi-finals in Brazil this summer - coincidentally having taken the reigns of that post following said rejection on Merseyside - the former Bayern boss arrives at Old Trafford knowing that he has a huge task on his hands with regards to restoring order after last term’s unprecedented woes.
Just as Rodgers has had to carefully devise Liverpool’s return to the top bracket of English football Van Gaal will also have to tread carefully in his new position. Though he has the experience and allure for high-profile players that David Moyes didn’t have, it will undoubtedly take time for his methods to register a return in the way of on-field success, and fans will have to be patient if they want their club to prosper.
United vs Liverpool
Yet none can deny that United have looked potent under his tutelage so far and their current pre-season record, which boasts wins against L.A Galaxy, Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, is one of the most impressive to be found. All that remains now is for the Red Devils to notch up a win over Liverpool in their last game in the U.S - which happens to be in the final of the International Champions Cup tournament - and Van Gaal and co. will return to British shores with a 100% record intact.
Will Van Gaal strike first blood against the man who denied him the chance to work with Liverpool, or will Rodgers emerge supreme? United & Liverpool fans, let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.
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