22 Nov 2013

BR's LFC Coup d'état: Double sacking is a Benitez-style grab for POWER. Good or bad...?

During his last two years in charge, former Reds boss Rafa Benitez came close to engineering the football version of a Coup d'état at Liverpool. Benitez wanted total control at Anfield - especially over the Academy - and to achieve this, the Spaniard either sacked or forced-out anyone standing in the way of his blatant grab for power. Whether this was a positive or negative for the club is open to debate, but it looks like Brendan Rodgers is following Benitez's example, and history appears to be repeating itself at Liverpool.

In a surprise move this week, Liverpool sacked Academy stalwarts Frank McParland and Rodolfo Borrell, both of whom were brought in by Benitez in 2009.

The club has remained silent on the issue so far, but it is blindingly obvious that this is a power-play by Rodgers in his bid to take control of the club's academy. In this regard, he is following the Benitez template:

OCT 2007: Pako Ayesteran, Benitez's long-time right-hand man, is forced out of the club after disagreeing with the Spaniard's approach at LFC. He later explained:

"In England the people around the game make you feel that you’re bigger than you really are. Sometimes you don’t take care of the values and principles that made you so successful. I wasn’t able to convince him [Benitez] that we should go back to our principles and stick to them. There was a difference between the beliefs that were so rooted in myself, beliefs that we applied for many years and got us success. We were running away from them"

FEB 2009: After publicly criticising him several times over LFC's slack performance in the transfer market, Benitez finally succeeds in forcing out Rick Parry, someone the Spaniard perceived as a barrier to the club's forward progress.

JUN 2009: Benitez fires SIXTEEN backroom staff, many of whom worked at the Academy:

* Gary Ablett: Reserve team manager (2 years)
* Piet Hamburg: Academy director (2 years)
* Hugh McAuley: Under 18 coach (20 years)
* Dave Shannon: Under-16 coach (20 years)
* Paul Lever: Under-14 coach (18 years)
* Billy Stewart: Academy goalkeeper coach (10 years)
* Norman Gard: Players’ liaison officer (15 years)
* Tim Divine: Education officer (15 years)
* John Wright: Kit man (15 years)
* Victor Salinas: Physio (4 years)
* Gerard Nus: Sports scientist (2 years)
* Angel Vales: Sports scientist (1 year)
* Simon Farnworth: Academy physio (10 years)
* John Coburn: Academy physio (8 years)
* Jan de Koning: Assistant academy director (2 years)
* Tim Dittmar: Academy goalkeeper coach (8 years)

At the time, a source at Anfield explained:

“You’ve heard of the night of the long knives. This is more like two weeks of it and it may not be finished yet. Rafa wants a clean sweep, but some of the staff won’t go quietly and are taking legal advice. Some of them don’t even feel they’ve been told why they’re going.”

Benitez's attempted Coup d'état would've succeeded but for the influence of former LFC MD Christian Purslow, who put the stoppers on the power-grab, and ultimately played a part in (ironically) forcing the Spaniard out of Anfield.

Now, we come to Rodgers, who is attempting exactly the same thing as Benitez. He wants more power and control at Liverpool, so he's slowly but surely removing the barriers to achieving that.

AUG 2012: Two months after Brendan Rodgers takes the LFC job, Academy technical director Pep Segura quits the club. At the time, the Liverpool Echo reported:

"Segura looked set to be promoted to technical director to work alongside the manager and a sporting director. However, those plans were shelved by the owners when Brendan Rodgers made it clear that having total control would be key to him accepting the job".

NOV 2012: Rodgers 'promotes' Rodolfo Borrell to head of Academy coaching, and brings in his own man, Alex Inglethorpe as the new Reserve Team manager.

MAY 2013: U18 coach (and former Academy Manager) Steve Cooper is dumped by Rodgers, who decides not to renew his contract. The manager then brings in his own man - Neil Critchley - to take over.

NOV 2013: Frank McParland and Rodolfo Borrell ('promoted' only a year ago) are both sacked by LFC. Rodgers will now bring in more of his own guys to take over their roles.

The pattern here - with both Benitez and Rodgers - is clear: remove employees from influential posts and bring in hand-picked replacements, thus solidifying control across the club.

With this latest cull, Rodgers now has almost complete control over youth development at Anfield. Everyone he brings in will be in tune with his way of doing things, which will mean a unified approach to youth coaching throughout the club.

And long may it continue!

I don't see anything wrong with the manager taking steps to ensure that all coaches at every level of the club are singing from the same hymn sheet. Rodgers has a very specific football philosophy, and to ensure the long-term success of the club, it should be implemented at all levels of development, not just the first team.

If that means staff have to fall by the wayside, then so be it. As long as Rodgers is putting into place a system for the CLUB rather than himself, then there shouldn't be a problem. By that, I mean the youth development plan should be sustainable irrespective of who manages the club.

The worst thing that can happen is the Academy set-up/staffing changes with every new manager. Granted, that appears to be what's happened every since the Gerard Houllier era (!), but I genuinely believe it's different under Rodgers.

Teams like Barcelona and Ajax have a philosophy/style of play/approach to football that stays the same irrespective of who's in charge, and Rodgers is trying to implement the same thing at Anfield.

I don't for one second believe that Rodgers is a power-crazed megalomaniac who wants increased control just for the sake of it. It's clear that the Reds boss has LFC's long-term interests at heart, and that should be lauded.

Were Benitez's intentions similarly honourable? For the most part, arguably yes, but he has a history of power-plays at practically every club he's managed, and given his problems with Hicks and Gillett, Benitez needed the extra power-base to strengthen his position at the club.

In many cases, a Coup d'état ultimately turns out to be a negative thing, but in this case, it should (IMO) be welcomed with open arms.

Liverpool MD Ian Ayre should watch his back ;-)



  1. There is a saying, " with the great power, comes great responsibility". The sacking of the two very popular figure, lauded by many for spearheading a faltering youth academy gives BR enough strength but the question is, while the first team is going through so many changes in recent times and still needs a lot of focus and investment , would BR be able to give enough time to the youth academy and will be able to justify his role satisfactorily???... It does not make sense when he is trying to copy the model that the Barcelona and Ajax has so well adopted and he is sacking the coach with the pedigree and experience of Rodolfo borell who was well equipped at that model. It only indicates that Rodgers want total control and Borell was not happy with lots of his ideas. May the support provided by the club to BR in leading the club from the base come to FRUITION... WE CAN ONLY HOPE

  2. The problem with the academy is that it is not producing our own players.

    Not even Ryan McLaughlin is a product of ours!!!

    Hopefully the changes that get made now produces the next Mcmanaman, Fowler, Carra and Gerrard etc in years from now.

  3. Benitez did it for the future of the club not power and no one can deny the legacy he left us. Rodgers did it for spite and personal power but I hope he is lauded tomorrow though and wins the league. Liverpool come first.

  4. Nothing you say or do will bring Benitez back. He is history.

    Move on.

  5. Still spreading this lie, I see. There is zero evidence that Rodgers did it for 'spite'. You just want to believe that.

    Sent from Samsung Galaxy Note

    -------- Original message --------

  6. Ayre is just doing what he is told. FSG are the ones who pull the string and obviously they have plenty of faith in what Rodgers is trying to implement.

    What is refreshing is that there are no boardroom battles anymore. Not sure why you would want to say the Ayre needs to watch his back?

  7. I think the academy really needs a shake-up. We do have good young players but it is a concern when they aren't able to transition into the first team as easily as everyone hoped. Yes, BR needs to instill his philosophy from the top to the bottom. Hopefully, he can bring great success to LFC in the near future. I think FSG will be behind BR in this as they would want young players from the academy to be able to bolster our senior squad and avoid wasting money in the transfer market.

  8. The fact that we are showing really good progress under Rodgers in such a short time is the reason why FSG are willing to take these risks. I think we have now found out that Rodgers may be here for more than just three years.

  9. Rodgers will not bring more of his own guys or Rodgers will now bring more of his own guys??

    Liverpool website :- "The process is underway to identify and recruit new leadership for Liverpool's youth structure based at the state-of-the-art training facility at Kirkby."

  10. Also, the rumors has it that these duo tried to make a deal with Manchester City and they held talks. Liverpool came to know about it and sacked them.

  11. Obviously Rodgers will bring his own guys otherwise there would have been no point in getting rid of Borrell and McFarland.

  12. I thought so, I was confused after reading that Rodgers will not bring his own guys, typo error I guess.

  13. who said anything about 1/ wanting Benitez back ?. 2/ Istanbul is history. 3/ I keep on moving on - I will finish the rest of the lyrics of my new song later

  14. Where did you read that Rodgers won't be bringing in his own people?

  15. You hate Rodgers. Plain and simple.

    Are you telling me there is not an issue here?

  16. In this article, NOV 2013

  17. I think you are a bit confused.

  18. when I said he was behind it yesterday you said there was zero evidence he was behind it - but he was.

  19. Jesus, read the second line following the bold NOV 2013 in this very article. Anyway, its a type, forget it.

  20. Sorry about that, only saw it now. Think that is his opinion?

  21. Well, its wrong. I posted from LFC website that they are looking to recruit new leadership.

  22. That is why I apologised. I checked it out. You are right!

  23. Kenny got rightful stick over his awful signings, when Brendon followed suit with awful buys Borrini and Allen (good but over priced) - a new system was brought in to get the right players hence Sturridge - Coutinho - Sakho. it was pure genius of Brendon to try to swap Henderson for Dempsey- yer sarcasm, still if he keeps us in the top four all is forgiven.

  24. Have you seen where we are in the table? Go to bed.

  25. I do not know if he did it for spite I am speculating but I do know he was spiteful with a young lad with uncalled for hurtful public criticism. so my minor pubic criticism of him dosnt bother me. again I wish him luck Liverpool is what matters.

  26. The "Ayre needs to watch his back" part was a little joke really. The article was about BR wanting more control/power at the club and Ian Ayre also influences some decisions like money spent on a player etc so Jaimie was joking BR will get Ayre sacked because he would want to decide the money spent on a player.

  27. I think looking at the two players form (Henderson and Dempsey) then a lot of people would have agreed with the swap deal. Not a lot of people expected how much improvement Henderson would go on to make under BR and how Dempsey would flop at Tottenham. Ok, yes Dempsey flopping should have been more likely considering Fulham was sort of built around him and it's hard to not look good when a team plays through but Dempsey just came off a very good season so really there shouldn't be any sarcasm as at the time it would have seemed the logical thing to do. It's easy to say Henderson Dempsey swap deal would have been a stupid move looking back.

  28. Rafa was more obvious in his control-freak ways but I doubt Rodgers is much less pedantic. He's perhaps a bit better in how he interacts with people, more friendly and open, more of a guider and mentor rather than a task master, but the end result is kind of the same. I'm 100% with you that clubs need to have a consistent philosophy and if it turns out that coaches and trainers at the lower levels are not in tune with the first team then you have a problem. It doesn't even need to be acrimonious. No one wants to lose their job at a club like Liverpool but if you know that the way you do things and the way then first team manager does things just isn't compatible then it makes sense for you to go. If people are grown up about it then it should be a mutual agreement. These guys have done a good job over the years however the club has a vision that IS producing results. The first team is doing well and young players are getting through the first team more than in the past 10 years; it's important this continues and doesn't fade out. Those players need to be given every chance to prove themselves and the reserves and age grade teams are where this happens. If they're not playing the right football in those teams then it's all a bit pointless because they'll come into the first team and be totally lost and be unable to take their chance. I'll be interested to see who comes into these roles.