“Buck” Rodgers better bring something of a cosmic force to Liverpool or he’s likely to be frozen out...
How breathtaking is the Premier League. As the new season sweeps all before, it’s hard not to marvel at the skills, marksmanship and money on display. Yet for all it’s beauty, there is an incredibly warped sense of perspective when it comes to management decision making.
Just take the cases of Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers.
Wenger is facing questions from fans and players alike about the direction of the club after the sale of his best two players from last season, Robin Van Persie to Man. U and Alex Song to Barcelona. Rodgers is the hottest “young” coach in the game after just 40 games managing in the top flight!
Nobody could argue that Van Persie would be a loss to any team and Song was on the rise after a season that saw him become a proper Premier League player. It is not just for his record and economics that Wenger should be applauded, its for his model. The buy young and cheap philosophy he has championed comes from what most operational managers would call common sense.
Last transfer window a year ago, Wenger was lambasted for waiting too late to make his move. After buying three quality players early in the summer, he was hammered this time round for not bolstering his squad on deadline day. It’s his mastery of business, the economics of football that make him second to only Sir Alex, in the world’s greatest League.
The Gunners are in the finest financial shape of any club in the League. They have plenty of cash and have a structure and order that screams…..well run. Despite the insistence on winning the League, Wenger has done something far more admirable. Convinced his board that patience and prudence actually pays. Unable or unwilling to spend on mega stars, Wenger is now rebuilding again. And will no doubt finish in the top four once again. Given that there are at least six out of the best 12 teams in the world playing in the Premier League, that’s not such a bad return
Arsenal have literally rebuilt the club under Wenger, moving from cramped Highbury to the Emirates. Annual turnover tops GBP230 million and rising. As a Liverpool fan, I can’t help look at my own club, which has an annual revenue of close to GBP190 million. Our predicament, as we still dream about rebuilding our stadium and bridging the financial gap, is that we have just sacked our greatest ever player and one of our greatest ever managers. Dalglish ranks behind only Shankly and Paisley as Liverpool leaders. Instead, we swapped a legend for an up and coming “star” who took Swansea to 11th in the Premier League.
Where else could this happen but at a top flight football club. For all the plaudits about the attractive teams Rodgers builds and his “knowledge” of the game, his actual record is underwhelming at best. He has now lost more Premier League games than he has won, coming in the changing room as victor just 12 times in 41 Premier League games. He’s lost 17 and drawn another 12, including defeat at Anfield on Sunday against Arsenal. His overall record, prior to joining Liverpool, boasted a total of 151 games at the helm of some, well, less than glamorous clubs. One promotion to the Premier League and two manager of the month awards, one in the top division and the other in the Championship.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when it came to the discussion of bringing in Dutch maestro Louis van Gaal as Technical Director to help at Liverpool. Rodgers, apparently didn’t want meddling from a man who has won the Champion’s League and been runners up twice with different teams, not to mention managed clubs to league titles in three different countries.
Instead, he wanted to draw on his own extensive experience and winning percentage of just 40%. In his 151 games in charge, he has had a grand total of 61 victories and 57 losses, with 33 stalemates. In essence, he’s losing more games the tougher the competition. If that doesn’t raise eyebrows, then the growing scale of the task of restoring the 5 times European Champions to the top rung should. There is little to suggest that Rodgers has a formula to bring Liverpool back to its glory days.. As a fan, I hope I’m wrong but the stats and current economics of the game suggest otherwise.
If Wenger, Ferguson and Dalglish, who got the boot after taking Liverpool to Carling Cup glory and the FA cup final, tell you anything about top flight football it’s that experience counts. Dalglish has four manager of the year awards to his name. And a winning percentage of 60% plus in his first coming as Liverpool manager and 47% in the year and a half he had rebuilding the club more recently. While he’d been away for the game for what seemed an age, he still managed to craft cup winning team.
Remember before Sir Alex went to Man U, he’d conquered Europe and beat back the Old Firm in Scotland with Aberdeen. Wenger had won the French League and Cup with Monaco before taking over at Arsenal, and also gone to Japan and grabbed the Emperors Cup and the Japanese Super Cup with Grampus Eight.
“Buck” Rodgers as he’s affectionately known better bring something of a cosmic force to Liverpool or he’s likely to be frozen out quicker than you can say, Baseball fans make poor football club owners.