The inevitable reoccurrence of heightened doubt surrounding Brendan Rodgers’ position at Liverpool comes as little surprise given the magnitude of his failures last season. What is surprising – and most damning for a man in his position – is how early into the new campaign that such agnosticism has been whistling amongst the corridors of Anfield with regards to his future.
Just four wins in his last fifteen league matches has drawn out a scenario whereby Fenway Sports Group have had to reconsider their options. When doing so, they may want to consider a more accomplished replacement because, beyond the surface, there is much more apparent problems aligned to Brendan Rodgers than his recent turbulence in the results department. Of last season’s top four teams in England, Brendan Rodgers has achieved just one win in fourteen away matches following his appointment in May 2013.
The Northern Irishman has struggled to deliver against any of Liverpool’s major rivals, accumulating one win in six attempts against Merseyside neighbours, Everton and enduring a 71.43% loss rate in clashes against those from the other end of the M62, Manchester United. This, all occurring since his appointment and applicable to the 2013/14 campaign where he nearly achieved Premier League glory.
It is an argument about calibre and ambition. What has Brendan Rodgers achieved to warrant the patience and trust emplaced in him by John W. Henry’s consortium. He is receiving the kind of understanding not afforded to even the most accomplished managers, the generals of the game, managers that have handfuls of European cups and league titles to boast as cause to delay impulsiveness.
For now, Brendan Rodgers bares the bulk of the public scrutiny, examined in detail at every hurdle he fails to overcome or convince in – and with good cause – but once the decision to remove him as Liverpool manager is taken, the spotlight quickly changes. Brendan Rodgers is young in managerial terms and has to a large extent won a lot of admirers within the media, due to his slick style of play and bravery to incorporate youth into his teams. Amongst many, he is seen as an ideal fit to take the England job in years ahead.
Few will be out with iron rods and hooks to sabotage his reputation – despite Rodgers having abolished many key aspects of his commonly publicised “death by football” approach to management, which he penciled in for the duration of his teenier, upon arrival – but many will question the competency of Liverpool’s ownership. John Henry and co. invested £80 million in a man on the ropes, whom they would later sack within weeks of the new season commencing? For that reason, Fenway Sports Group will hold out as long as they possibly can before pulling the trigger and replacing ‘their’ man. After all, once ‘their’ man is out, all judgement and cynicism has nowhere else to take aim but at the door of those in charge.
The real question is how much impact can any replacement truly have over a sustained period with the policy restrictions and recruitment deficiencies that have stained Liverpool’s market performances. Jürgen Klopp – the man most commonly aligned with replacing Brendan Rodgers – had the luxury of relying on esteemed colleague, Michael Zorc, when it came to yielding the best players available and recruitable come January or the summer window. At Liverpool, taking a backseat may be much more punishing and detrimental.
Whether Fenway Sports Group have the nous required or motivation to uphold a policy change is debatable. Trying to identify young talent, coach them and make them mainstays or sell has not worked out as smoothly as anticipated. Brendan Rodgers shares a portion of that responsibility – he has his seat amongst the committee and does, by his own admission, have the final say on acquisitions. However, to suggest replacing Brendan Rodgers solves Liverpool’s woes would be a monumental misconception.
Liverpool’s best players will continuously want to leave, regardless of Brendan Rodgers – and while a more accomplished manager would certainly create more appeal, it would only be undermined by Fenway Sports Group, who have endorsed the idea of young players looking at Liverpool as a craft school, rather than a career pinnacle. The same could not be imagined at Manchester United, who incorporated young talent with the view that they become catalysts for success, as oppose to cogs to cash in.
It is nigh-on improbable that Fenway Sports Group will replace Brendan Rodgers with a manager that boasts totally opposite characteristics to the one they employed. A man that will challenge that mentality and look to derail the conveyor belt and implement steal. Fenway Sports Group may go along such an approach if they had a sentimental relationship with Liverpool, similar to the one they share with the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately, the reality is that they view Liverpool FC as a business – and in business, there is no room for sentiment.
Whoever replaces Brendan Rodgers will most likely share a similar mentality and adopt an accepting approach to working under a rigorous regime. With that in-mind, and a world of bad PR brewing in the direction of the ownership once the trigger is pulled, maintaining faith of any form in the current managerial set-up remains preferential for John Henry and co.