10 Mar 2015

Forward Planning: Why Rodgers' quiet revolution is working at Liverpool (Guest Post)

[GUEST POST] Liverpool appointed Brendan Rodgers because, of all the candidates, he was 'the man with a plan' - a long term, built-to last option to rebuild an ailing dynasty, and not a short-term quick-fix. The fact that he nearly won the Premier League is proof of Rodgers' quality, but it actually provided the media - and some fans - with a stick with which to beat him. How, they crowed, could a team that came so close to PL triumph now look so bad? As expected, though, Rodgers has turned things around, and this is a testament to the quiet revolution currently taking place at Anfield.

The simple truth is that being a couple of results away from being Champions was probably as much a shock to Brendan as it was to the rest of us. The mercurial Suarez produced a season of consistent genius at exactly the same time as a fighting fit Daniel Sturridge demonstrated the class of a trained assassin.

It did not matter how many goals we conceded, SAS would score more. It was breathtaking; a delightful bonus, and a wonderful distraction from the bigger picture, but it happened too quickly, and like a bright star, the success burned out as quickly as it started.

There is no doubt that Brendan Rodgers has a vision on how the game should be played, and that vision dovetails with the ethos of Liverpool Football Club. Coolly and calmly he is masterminding a quiet revolution at LFC. As joyous as last season was, he knows it was a flattering sideshow to the bigger task at hand.

Rodgers has slowly built his authority as manager, building his squad, and clearing out those who could not (or would not) do things his way. Like the greats before him, this is not a man to suffer fools lightly, or allow sentiment to cloud his judgement. Recently there have been two fine examples of how Brendan Rodgers is operating his quiet revolution.

* First, it's the way he is dealing with Stevie Gerrard's last season at Anfield. Rodgers is well aware that Stevie has been the man you turn to in a crisis, and he knows what a psychological blow his absence will have at the club. However, he is already preparing for next season by phasing the skipper out this season.

* Gerrard has not been an automatic starter, and when makes the first XI, he is normally the first player substituted. By reducing his importance to the team this season, Rodgers lessens the blow of Gerrard's total absence next season.

* Alongside this, he is also preparing two of his young guns, (Henderson, and Can), to fill the void. Comments made about these two to the press are not off the cuff, but carefully considered to bolster, and motivate them for the future.

* Secondly, with Sterling stalling on a new contract, Brendan has made subtle moves to cover all eventualities. The surprise recall if Ibe has brought one of Sterlings closest buddies into to dressing room, and giving him first team experience demonstrates how well the team can operate with both players.

* Rodgers is also preparing Ibe as a replacement for Sterling should he go, so this is what you might well call a 'win-win' situation.

As the old saying goes, 'still waters run deep', and in Brendan Rodgers we have a manager with a lot more depth than he is given credit for. He IS the man with a plan; a carefully considered plan which he is pursuing with a single-minded tenacity, and long term success - built on solid foundations - will be the testament to Rodgers quiet revolution.



  1. I believe that Rodgers is the sort of manager Liverpool have waited for years and is heading in the right direction fans need to back the players 100% and also the manager its exciting times to be a liverpool supporter

  2. Excellent piece, could not agree more. I too like the way he has handled the stevie g situation and the fact he has been injured the last few weeks might well help our run-in. He'll be fresh and ready to give his all, when called upon for that final top four push and hopefully end his career with the cup. So true about Sterling, would like him to stay but if he goes we get a load of dosh plus Ibe gains more regular starts. We also have some more talented youngsters to come off the conveyor belt.

  3. Lovely article Ken and I agree. Slowly but surely, Brendan still has a lot to learn but there is concrete steady evidence he is gathering a capable team together.

    He is more clever than a lot of fans give him credit. Last season was beautiful, but too quick and that heightened the expectations.

  4. Excellent article mate, thoroughly enjoyable read.

  5. Excellent article I think your spot on about the way he uses the media , I know Jamie thinks it heaps pressure on the players but I think there mentally strong enough to deal with it and I would bet they get a good deal of confidence when they hear Rodgers comments

  6. Good stuff, Ken.

    My biggest criticism of Rodgers is that he usually takes too much time to adapt from his Plan A.

    Case in point, each season he's been here, we've done significantly better in the second half of the schedule on the reverse fixtures than we've done on the first half in the schedule.

  7. Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

  8. Nice to hear a refreshing view. Many "fans" are too quick to look for a negative instead of supporting the club, manager and players through tough times. This is not supporting blindly as there always comes a point when enough is enough but IMO that comes far too early with most fans. Overall BR has done an great job and hopefully he continues this trend and we start adding some silverware too

    I also like BR managing style where he is happy to praise his players when merited, but also highlight there failings on a few occassions when needed. To say a player has been outstanding in a game, or a few games or even so far this season is fair enough. By saying they are playing well is not saying they are beyond improvement. All praise is not overpraise.

  9. I agree with a lot of what you wrote Ken but if there is one thing that this revolution of Rodgers is it is not quiet.

  10. On Gerrard..
    He phased him out last season. Brendan came in Liverpool knowing that Gerrard is The man here and that he will demand(rightfully to start every match. Brendan didn't probably like that(specially with high tempo game Brendan likes) but decided to let Stevie dig his own grave. He played him every chance he got till everyone started demanding Gerrard on the bench so he can justify that call. It happened soon so when Gerrard learned that he isn't an automatic starter and that supporters are all right with that, he decided to leave.
    Maybe bit of conspiracy theory, but I think that is what happened. As Jaimie posted BR named best ever team of the EPL without mentioning Steven, and since came to Liverpool Gerrard became the best ever..

  11. Agree. Defensive coaching is still a bit of a concern..

  12. Ken, nice article, read very well & I agree with your points. I know a lot of my Spurs mates feel Pochettino is tactically inept & doesn't demonstrate the flexibility that Rodger's has shown. I think the litmus test for Rodgers is attracting star quality with experience. He'll have to do it the Wenger way, that is to build an attractive brand of football & slowly build a reputation by keeping LFC in the championship league. He'll need to win trophies mind you!

  13. I 98% agree but somehow I can't get the beginning of the season out of my mind. I never expected a run of games like we're on and my expectation has always been top four but why would BR so stubbornly stick with a formation that clearly wasn't working. We saw him change formations midway through the first half of games last season to great effect so why would he stick with a failing formation when everyone was screaming for him to change it? He finally made the change, but it took such a long I'm wondering whether he thought of it or whether his hand was forced into it. And even worse, if he'll try and buy in the summer to revert to that formation...
    Really hope it was just a phase, and I think it is, but something to keep an eye on I think

  14. I enjoyed reading this. Refreshing to see Rodgers being given some credit for a change. As I've said numerous times on here we're lucky to have him.

  15. I admit to being a non believer at first now I'm seeing the light, oh sorry it's the whiteness teeth :)

  16. good manager, but, did the club board member have the patience waiting for the success to come? i don't think so, still need to win something i think.........

  17. I wouldn't have described it quite like that, but I think the progression of events is correct. For me it was just a case of Rodgers managing it as best he could. He squeezed every last ounce of worth out of Gerrard and last season it really did work quite well. Now we can all see that it simply can't go on. Gerrard himself knows this too and hence the career is over. I wouldn't describe it as Rodgers setting up Gerrard to fail, I think it's just that the game has caught with him and Rodgers deserves credit for making that tactical adjustment to hold off the inevitable a bit longer.

  18. Here is bit better explenation of my opinion I wrote on Mr G's post about Gerrard's inability to press...

    It's not all about the legs. Gerrard has the football intelligence to be the one that takes the ball away and press better than many young players. But it can only work for 60 minutes or so, and the whole team must know all movement and pressing depends on Gerrard's movement. The first part didn't work for Steven, the latter for Brendan, That is why BR invented the deep lying position- gives the team space to press and to become less dependable on Gerrard. Steven still influenced the game with Hollywood passes, but you can't get them all right and it's much harder without Daniel and Suarez cutting in, and on the other hand his mistakes back there highlighted his aging legs. That allowed Brendan to tell Gerrard h is no longer an automatic starter this season, something he couldn't have said before.

    With smaller egos, we could've enjoyed Gerrard's magic for another year..

  19. I think one of BR biggest downfalls his:
    1) His stubbornness
    2) His preferential treatment of players.

    We saw against Blackburn that the WRONG players in the right formation do nothing for us.

    Sterling has been electric for us when played up front or just behind. Wingback is a waste of his talent.

    Our attacks that start from defence are usually through Sahko or Can. Lovren doesn't offer that and GJ is so suspect defensively Im surprised we don't replace him with a plank of wood...

    Gerrard INFLUENCE in the middle did more harm than good. Hendo was running more to cover for Gerrard and it affected his game.

    Never mind shunting Coutinho to the wings..

    I really think we ended up with THIS formation and these players by a combination of BR "tactical thinking" and injuries. When Gerrard, Lovren, GJ and DS were all injured it FORCED BR to play Lucas in the middle. Give Can a CB position when Kolo went to AFCON. Play Sahko at LCB. Even markovic at RWB who has been hot/cold... This is where I give BR credit for bringing Ibe back. He rocked that position before injury.

    I think once the senior players who have an influence over BR but are lacking form and/or performance leave then he will excel even more... He is still a young manager and doesn't seem the type of guy to reprimand the likes of GJ or Gerrard...

    Even Allen can stake a claim to a starting 11 spot over stevie considering what he brings in defence and pressing...

  20. I suspected something similar. It's the safest route that Rodgers could have taken. Unfortunate that a player has more power than the manager, but that's just the lay of the land, I guess.

  21. This player and this manager- the player should have more power, in my opinion..

  22. A few points:

    Well done Ken for putting you hand up. Good article, although I may be in the minority and disagree with your analysis.

    I am a veteran Red and will support BR (or whoever is the boss), but not necessary agree that he is the right man for the job.

    In previous posts I've articulated the fact that he's caused the problems at the start of the season to which he is then commended for resolving in the 2nd half of the season. That's 3 times in 3 years. The better managers don't repeat the same mistakes.

  23. Thanks for all the positive reaction to my first ever contribution to this site. Like Neutralred I am a veteran supporter, going to my first match back in 1962, (how I remember being "passed down" to the front of the Kop, and then getting wet legs during the match !!!
    I honestly don't think we can blame BR too much for the bad start to this season. There were a number of new players who could not make the immediate impact on the pitch. Just look at how they have progressed as the season has continued. The loss of Sturridge was also a bitter blow, and I am afraid it highlighted just how short of being a Liverpool player a certain Mario is.
    With this season under our belts I am sure we will be a lot better starting next season as the core of the new squad will be truly bedded in.
    Keep the faith I have a feeling we have exciting times ahead.

  24. I am afraid I must disagree with this assessment, three times in 3 seasons? I would like you to explain....when Rodgers arrived he was faced with numerous problems chief of which the loss of forwards . Kuyt, Bellamy and Maxi had all moved on/come to the end and they were responsible for a decent proportion of our goals. That left him with just two forwards Suarez (who to that point was a maverick, inconsistent player capable of moments of brilliance rather than the player we saw last year) and Carroll, who was never going to be able to play the way he wanted. Chelsea wouldn't part with Studge so he was forced to take an educated punt on Borini before the window shut and that was what we had to run with. Even with that and the numerous other deadwood in the squad, he turned it round by January, sign in Coutinho and Studge and turning us into the form team from that point on. That continued into the next season in which we were brilliant overrall, people go on about the defending but in the end it was the squad strength that let us down. When a manager has a team chasing the title in a crucial game and he can only call on a £7m striker (Aspas) and some kids from the bench we were always going to fall short given City & Chelsea's. resources. It takes more time on a limited budget and Rodgers started with only one workable striker in the first year. And as for this season I am amazed at the stick. He lost 60% of the goals from last season without the SAS, and perhaps more crucially players who were attuned to Gerrards early ball, and who's runs created the space for him to play when teams had to back off. Any team would struggle under those circumstances, where would City be without Aguero or Chelsea without Costa? Probably not too far above where we are now. Rodgers had a choice...spend the Suarez money by trying to replace him, and have the same squad issues as last year (with more games) or do what he did. He made the right choice long term as the only one of this big name forwards who actually became available was Falcao and we have seen how that turned out. He has turned it round now and we will get CL this year. Spurs fans will tell you that ain't easy after losing your best player.

  25. Good article and a fair assessment overall, hence I am amazed you were able to post it.

  26. To respond and explain the 3 times in 3 seasons comment - quote from the BBC today:

    "Liverpool's form has improved after Christmas in each of Brendan Rodgers' three seasons in charge of Liverpool.

    Having collected 25 points in the first half of the
    2012-13 campaign, they gained 36 in the second, losing just two of their final 16 league matches.

    Last season, they picked up 36 points from their first 19 games and 48 from the final 19, finishing runners-up to Manchester City.

    Liverpool earned 28 points in the first half of this season - and have gained another 26 in the 10 matches since."

  27. Yes but the problem is your assertion that 'the best managers don't repeat the same mistakes'. There were obvious reasons that Rodgers would struggle for a period in the first season - even not withstanding the problems with personnel that I highlighted , it just takes a be manager time to impliment his ideas. Yes we went backwards for a period this season but there were measurable reasons for that that were out of Rodgers hands, as I have gone into detail about in my last post. Any manager would struggle in this circumstances. My serious issue is with your categorisation of last season in the same bracket. Yes we picked up 36 points from first 19 and 48 from the 2nd, but we were top of the league after 17 games (and for much of the first half of the season despite Suarez being banned for first 7 of those) which is clearly more important than the points haul. To put that first half in the same bracket as the others is just demonstrably wrong. We were playing well and were above the others, and you have to look at the fixtures too, aside from ManU away all our big away fixtures were in the first 19 games. The last two games in that 'half' were City away and Chelsea away back to back in in 48 hours. We lost both of those games - it should be remembered that we were recipient of two shocking ref decisions too - the last minute Eto'o tackle on Suarez which no less than Gary Neville described as "damning" for Howard Webb as he showed him looking right at the blatant incident, and the linesman calling Sterling offside from 3 METRES on in the City game when we were leading - we were then down to 5h because it was so tight at the top but we were quickly back in the top four after a couple of further games. I would remind you our nemesis Alex Ferguson would regularlry repeat the mantra that nothing is won in the first half is the season and that as long as you were in 5-6 points of the lead you should go on a run and win the league. The ManUre regularly came from that position to win, was that a bad manager repeating his mistakes? We were just very unluckly last year in the end, and as you can see now from City and Chelsea's stuttering form, if not for the Suarez situation setting us back we would have won the league ccomfortably this season...we might even have won it if Studge had not got injured .....but that is not Rodgers fault, and he has now addressed these issues as quickly as anyone could be expected to.

  28. James - I do respect the points you make and the passionate defence of BR. But please try to consider an alternative cold dispassionate view and assessment of BR's performance over 3 years - for 3 years is sufficient time to assess and make a call.

    Short-term, here and there, I do agree BR has done well. For example, I was really pleased last night against Swansea that BR pulled out a plan B at half time and and plan C when SG came on.

    However, where was this plan B thinking during the Europa tie against Besiktas when we were being over run in midfield during the 2nd half or against Blackburn playing at home?

    It is very easy to "excuse" away any issue or problem and suggest it is outside the control of BR. In some circumstance, such as the ones you point out you are probably right. However luck (good and bad) surely does even out after 3 years so you need to take the good with the bad.

    There is a view, that if you give BR more time he may come good eventually - however it is one I just cannot foresee. Realistically, I do not see a change at the top in the summer.

    So the real question is how much more time do you give BR?