Liverpool and Manchester United have more in common than most of their fans would like to admit: they wear red shirts (the Pool wore white shorts as well until 1964), they are two of the most successful clubs in England; and in terms of the current Reds’ boss Brendan Rodgers and former United manager Alex Ferguson, the similarities continue.
Rodgers took over a struggling giant from a man (Kenny Daglish) who had reached the domestic cup finals and won the club their first trophy in years, kept up the struggles in his first season, finished as runners-up out of nowhere the next campaign and then faltered the next – still with no trophy after three seasons.
Ferguson took over a struggling giant from a man (Ron Atkinson) who had reached domestic cup finals and won the club their first trophy in years, kept up the struggles in his first season, finished as runners-up out of nowhere the next campaign and then faltered the next – still with no trophy after three seasons.
Pretty similar, eh? It was not until 1989-90, his fourth season at the club, that he won a trophy (FA Cup) in a season where Manchester United again struggled in the league finishing in the quite unthinkable position of 13th place.
Knowing the heroics his Aberdeen side had committed beforehand may have given Ferguson more time, but it was his behind the scenes work at United that was really standing out to the club’s board, including rejuvenating its youth system and infrastructure.
As Rodgers approaches his fourth campaign he appears to be doing the same, and the season before last when they finished second demonstrated what he can do. Just over a year ago he said ‘‘other managers may be different and might just be about purely winning trophies but for me success isn't just picking up the trophy at the end of the season. It's also about the football club, giving the value to young players and seeing them develop."
Maybe it is the actions behind this attitude that is keeping him in the job, so that there is a legacy and a philosophy for future managers to work with rather than the hiring, firing and buying of other clubs.
Ferguson of course went on to unparalleled success, eventually winning Man United their first league title in 26 years in 1993. By May next year it will be the same amount of time that the Merseysiders have gone without one and although Rodgers, like anyone else, is unlikely to match the Scotsman’s achievements, his current predicament and the mirrored situation with Fergie might just carry on for a few more years.
I’m sure Liverpool fans will take a title in four season's time. And then some more.
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