Football

Brendan Rodgers laid the foundations at Liverpool, now Jurgen Klopp can finish the job

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Left with a squad that continually failed to live up to high expectations for seasons prior, as the new man in charge it was Brendan Rodgers' role to ignite hope within the hearts of the Liverpool faithful and to make them believe again.

Drawing upon the traditions and legends that made the city and club what it is, Rodgers tuned his inner-Shankley to beautifully craft a narrative where he would return Liverpool to the perch of English football. It was a joy to behold.

After years of change and turbulence, both in the boardroom and on the pitch, watching Liverpool lose their winning, intimidating identity was difficult. But Rodgers was the doctor - he had the answers, it seemed.

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At that time, the Reds were a team with a lot of issues, undelivered potential and a shadow of what fans had come to expect. They needed to be Liverpool again and Rodgers was the man to give them back their identity.

The red goal nets returned, as did the original 'This Is Anfield' sign - one of the most historically significant and daunting signs in world football. Off the pitch, it seemed fresh; vibrant.

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A magical season followed in the 2013/14 campaign, with Liverpool coming the closest to a Premier League title than they had done in two decades. Rodgers took the plaudits as the man in charge and rightly so, irrespective of a certain Uruguayan helping a little along the way.

Fans proudly sang and Liverpool were back. Although they finished the season trophyless and without their star asset for the coming year, Rodgers deserved another go at it - to build on the second-placed finish.

The following season, though, Liverpool slumped. It was an anti-climax like no other and a decline that Liverpool fans had gotten used to over the last two decades. Rodgers' lack of experience was showing - the belief instilled had been lost.

Tactical naivety and evidence of poor man-management came to the forefront as his side struggled to score and keep clean sheets against the most questionable of opposition. Five 1-1 draws in six games against relatively weak sides eventually saw the end of Rodgers' tenure.

Although the Reds had lost a title and two of the greatest players to ever wear the jersey - Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard - Liverpool at least regained their identity under Rodgers. Despite losing their way, Liverpool were again aware of what was possible.

Rodgers must be given credit for helping Liverpool realise it again, but it was his shortcomings that led them astray. It would not be under his guidance that it would come to reality - change was needed.

The sense of hope and belief Rodgers instilled within fans on his first day was replicated by a certain Jurgen Klopp in his debut press conference. However, where the Northern Irishman tried to recreate the history of this great club by drawing upon tradition and legends gone by, his German counterpart insisted on creating his own history - and he has the experience to do so.

After taking over a Borussia Dortmund team that finished 13th all those years ago, he took them to consecutive Bundesliga titles by his fourth season in charge.

It was not that he heavily invested in his team also. Just £28 million it cost Dortmund to field their Champions League final side in 2013, hardly comparable to the £45 million Rodgers dished out on Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana alone.

So, how does he do it? Before exhibiting any tactical astuteness, assisted with by coaches Zeljko Buvac and Peter Krawietz, he makes sure his players want to play for him - any doubts and they won't see any game time.

Klopp made it clear that his team will play by his laws. It's this backbone, aggression and charisma which Rodgers seemed to lack and a reason as to why he lost the dressing room by the end of his reign.

Having monitored Roberto Firmino at Hoffenheim; Divock Origi at Lille; seeking Christian Benteke as his Robert Lewandowski replacement back in 2013; his German connection with Emre Can; his tactical requirement for a player in the fit of Shinji Kagawa of which Philippe Coutinho more than suffices; there isn't a lot Klopp will need to do to this Liverpool squad. All it requires is guidance.

For all of Rodgers' quips about this team constantly being in transition, it is clear that that is not the case. After rediscovering their identity as a club again, what Liverpool now need is a leader, motivator and winner to take them forward. Rodgers did his job - now, it's up to Jurgen Klopp to do his.

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Topics:
Premier League
Liverpool
Football

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