In being officially unveiled on 1 June 2012 as the man to replace Kenny Dalglish as manager of team affairs at Liverpool Football Club, 39-year-old Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers became the club’s youngest appointee to that position since Graeme Souness arrived as a 37-year-old in 1991. On taking up his new post Rodgers, however, despite a growing reputation and a managerial apprenticeship earned at Watford, Reading and Swansea, did not possess the experience or abrasiveness of the Scot who had previously been chosen to replace the Liverpool legend 21 years earlier. Although seemingly settled and happy in south Wales, having steered Swansea into the Premier League as the Championship play-off winners in 2011, what he had achieved at Swansea and the way he had achieved it made him an inevitable target for bigger clubs. It was probably more a question of when rather than if this next move would happen. After initially turning down the opportunity to talk to Liverpool’s owners in the middle of May about the vacant manager’s position at Anfield, it seemed that Wigan boss Roberto Martinez had become the American owners’ new target. But only days after Martinez had met representatives of Fenway Sports Group in Florida, attention turned again to Rodgers, who felt unable to turn down a second request from Liverpool to discuss the prospect of taking over the chair vacated by Dalglish.
Rodgers did not take up football seriously until he had become a teenager. He was a youth player with Ballymena United in his home county of Antrim but only played a dozen or so matches as a senior there before moving to England to further his career with Reading, then in the Third Division of the Football League. Unfortunately, a genetic knee condition forced him to terminate any ambitions of becoming a professional footballer before he had even appeared in a first-team match for the Berkshire club. Putting aside his disappointment at not being able to play on a full-time basis, Rodgers worked hard at pursuing a career as a coach. He became Reading’s Academy manager at the young age of twenty-two. Soon after arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2004 José Mourinho offered him the opportunity to manage Chelsea’s Academy and he impressed enough to be offered the reserve team’s manager’s job in 2006. Born exactly ten years to the day before Rodgers, Mourinho saw other characteristics which mirrored his own. "I like everything in him," Mourinho said. "He is ambitious and does not see football very differently from myself. He is open, likes to learn and likes to communicate."
In 2008 Watford, then in the Championship division, gave Rodgers the chance to manager a first team. Arriving at a time when the Hertfordshire club had made a dreadful start to the season, Rodgers steered them to mid-table safety after they had been in the relegation-zone in January. Rodgers likes to think his teams reflect his father's work ethic. "I used to help dad paint and decorate to earn pocket money. He installed in me the value of a hard day's work. He believes that leads to success in whatever you do. He's right," he said. "He'd work from dawn to dusk to ensure his young family had everything. I think you can see his philosophies in my team."
Rodgers’ first English club were obviously monitoring the Irishman’s progress. When Steve Coppell stepped down after failing to take Reading back into the Premier League they had left at the end of the 2007/08 season, Rodgers was appointed to replace him. But it was not a happy return to the Madejski Stadium and shortly before the end of 2009 he was sacked by the Berkshire club. For six months he said he couldn’t even get an interview with a League 2 club but Swansea Chairman, Huw Jenkins, recognised the superb job he had done working with youngsters at Reading and Chelsea and appointed him to the post of Swansea manager in the summer of 2010.
In a sensational first season based in south Wales, Brendan Rodgers led the Swans into the promised land of the Premier League, although it took a dramatic play-off final victory against his old club Reading at Wembley to achieve this. Tipped by many to make an immediate return to the Championship, Swansea impressed throughout the season and finished in a comfortable eleventh place with their home form being particularly strong. Rodgers’ team also took four points out of six from Liverpool, who ultimately finished only three places and five points above them. This might have been a factor, although possibly not a major factor, in Liverpool’s American owners seeing Rodgers as a potential manager of their own club.
Rodgers revealed to the Daily Mail in 2011 the reason behind the playing style of his teams. “I suppose I’m in a new breed of coaches coming through and the one thing I have is confidence in players. I had a timeline to be a good coach and nearly 20 years in the game at that level has given me that," Rodgers told Daily Mail's Neil Ashton. "People like Roy Keane, Gareth Southgate and Gary Neville all had unbelievable careers and they have done their coaching badges, but I didn’t have the playing career. I was brought up in a traditional 4-4-2, kick the ball up the pitch, but when I was a youth international with Northern Ireland we would play France, Spain and Switzerland and we would chase the ball. I wanted to play in their team, I liked the ideology. I educated myself by studying, watching and learning. I worked with top British managers, Champions League winners and World Cup winners. At Chelsea I worked with some of the top players in European football."
Mister Rodgers’ lack of success or experience as a player need not necessarily be seen as a disadvantage because both Gerard Houllier and Rafael Benítez took the club to domestic and European honours despite very modest playing careers. Rodgers knows he has joined a special club and both he and his employers made all the right noises on the day his appointment was confirmed in front of the media circus that the new manager will have to get used to and which to be fair he has already some experience of with his other clubs.
Tom Werner, Liverpool’s Chairman emphasised that Rodgers will offer “relentless, attacking football” and was the owner’s first-choice and the only man offered the manager’s job. Rodgers, who is the first Ulsterman to manage Liverpool since John McKenna in 1892, is a visionary who has studied coaching techniques in Spain (Rodgers is fluent in Spanish) and Holland where he spent time with the legendary Rinus Michels. "My big dream is to be a highly successful football manager whose methods provide innovation for youth and senior footballers and coaches. I started coaching for one reason and that was to make a difference for people, not just as footballers but as human beings. I'm learning lessons all the time. My template for everything is organisation. With the ball you have to know the movement patterns, the rotation, the fluidity and positioning of the team. When we have the football everybody's a player. If you are better than your opponent with the ball you have a 79% chance of winning the game." He is very passionate about his new appointment. “I promise I'll fight for my life and for the people in this city, We might not be ready for the title now but the process begins today.”
Rodgers was quickly rewarded for taking his team directly into the 2014/15 Champions League group stage when he agreed a new four-year contract that would last up until the summer of 2018. Terrible 2014/ 15 season and dismal performances at the start of the next eventually cost him his job in October 2015.
|Competition||Total||Won||Draw||Lost||Goals for||Goals against|
Football coach and blogger Jed Davies examines the 'Tiki-Taka' philosophy deployed by Barcelona under Pep Guardiola and Swansea under Brendan Rodgers. From 25 June 2012.
Brendan Rodgers on captain fantastic on 13th September, 2013.
Kevin Keegan believes Brendan Rodgers has returned the club to the attacking football played by Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley. From BBC Radio 5.
Declan Sloan has put together a complete record of every South American player to wear the famous Red Jersey, from Mauricio Pellegrino in 2005 to newly recruited Roberto Firmino.
"At a football club, there's a holy trinity - the players, the manager and the supporters." - Bill Shankly
“In this country we pay them to fail. We don’t want to give them the contracts. I had the situation last year with Raheem. He was brilliant the first six months. I was hanging off [giving him a new contract] because I know the consequence. You are 17 or 18, you are handed that contract, and you think you don’t have to work any more. It’s only natural as a human being – you just cruise, and before you know it, he didn’t play as much in the second half of the season.”
Brendan Rodgers on 26 January 2014 on how he managed Raheem Sterling
|Fabio Borini||Roma||£10,400,000||13 July 2012|
|Joe Allen||Swansea City||£15,000,000||10 August 2012|
|Oussama Assaidi||Heerenveen||£3,000,000||17 August 2012|
|Nuri Sahin||Real Madrid||On Loan||25 August 2012|
|Samed Yesil||Leverkusen||£1,000,000||30 August 2012|
|Daniel Sturridge||Chelsea||£12,000,000||2 January 2013|
|Philippe Coutinho||Inter Milan||£8,500,000||30 January 2013|
|Luis Alberto||Sevilla||£6,800,000||22 June 2013|
|Iago Aspas||Celta Vigo||£7,000,000||23 June 2013|
|Simon Mignolet||Sunderland||£9,000,000||25 June 2013|
|Kolo Touré||Free Transfer||Free||2 July 2013|
|Aly Cissokho||Valencia||On Loan||20 August 2013|
|Mamadou Sakho||Paris St Germain||£15,000,000||2 September 2013|
|Tiago Ilori||Sporting Lisbon||£3,500,000 *||2 September 2013|
|Victor Moses||Chelsea||On Loan||2 September 2013|
|Rickie Lambert||Southampton||£4,500,000||2 June 2014|
|Adam Lallana||Southampton||£25,000,000 *||1 July 2014|
|Emre Can||Leverkusen||£9,750,000||3 July 2014|
|Kevin Stewart||Free Transfer||Free||3 July 2014|
|Lazar Markovic||Benfica||£19,800,000||15 July 2014|
|Dejan Lovren||Southampton||£20,000,000 *||27 July 2014|
|Divock Origi||Lille||£9,800,000 *||29 July 2014|
|Javier Manquillo||Atletico Madrid||On Loan||6 August 2014|
|Alberto Moreno||Sevilla||£12,000,000 *||16 August 2014|
|Mario Balotelli||AC Milan||£16,000,000||25 August 2014|
|Joe Gomez||Charlton Athletic||£6,000,000 *||20 June 2015|
|Adam Bogdan||Free Transfer||Free||1 July 2015|
|Danny Ings||Free Transfer||£8,000,000 *||1 July 2015|
|James Milner||Free Transfer||Free||1 July 2015|
|Nathaniel Clyne||Southampton||£12,500,000||1 July 2015|
|Roberto Firmino||Hoffenheim||£29,000,000 *||6 July 2015|
|Christian Benteke||Aston Villa||£32,500,000||22 July 2015|
|Allan Rodrigues de Souza||Internacional||£500,000||2 September 2015|
|Fábio Aurélio||Free Transfer||Free *||1 June 2012|
|David Amoo||Free Transfer||Free *||1 June 2012|
|Stephen Darby||Free Transfer||Free *||1 June 2012|
|Dirk Kuyt||Fenerbahce||£1,000,000||3 June 2012|
|Maxi Rodriguez||Newell's Old Boys||Undisclosed||13 July 2012|
|Alberto Aquilani||Fiorentina||£7,000,000||3 August 2012|
|Craig Bellamy||Cardiff City||Undisclosed||10 August 2012|
|Charlie Adam||Stoke City||£5,000,000 *||31 August 2012|
|Nathan Eccleston||Blackpool||Unknown||31 August 2012|
|Joe Cole||West Ham United||Free||4 January 2013|
|Nuri Sahin||Real Madrid||Returns from loan||11 January 2013|
|Alexander Doni||Botafogo||Free||31 January 2013|
|Peter Gulacsi||Salzburg||£0||7 June 2013|
|Andy Carroll||West Ham United||£15,000,000||19 June 2013|
|Danny Wilson||Free Transfer||Free *||1 July 2013|
|Jonjo Shelvey||Swansea City||£6,000,000||3 July 2013|
|Jay Spearing||Bolton Wanderers||£1,700,000||9 August 2013|
|Stewart Downing||West Ham United||£6,000,000||13 August 2013|
|Dani Pacheco||Alcorcon||Free||2 September 2013|
|Adam Morgan||Yeovil Town||Undisclosed||2 January 2014|
|Luis Suarez||Barcelona||£65,000,000||16 July 2014|
|Conor Coady||Huddersfield Town||£375,000||6 August 2014|
|Pepe Reina||Bayern Munich||£2,000,000||8 August 2014|
|Martin Kelly||Crystal Palace||£1,500,000||14 August 2014|
|Kristoffer Peterson||Utrecht||Undisclosed||27 August 2014|
|Jack Robinson||QPR||£1,000,000||28 August 2014|
|Daniel Agger||Brøndby||£3,000,000||30 August 2014|
|Oussama Assaidi||Al Ahli||£4,700,000||12 January 2015|
|Suso||AC Milan||£920,000||17 January 2015|
|Iago Aspas||Sevilla||£4,400,000||12 June 2015|
|Sebastian Coates||Sunderland||£4,000,000||1 July 2015|
|Brad Jones||Free Transfer||Free *||1 July 2015|
|Steven Gerrard||Free Transfer||Free||1 July 2015|
|Glen Johnson||Free Transfer||Free *||1 July 2015|
|Raheem Sterling||Manchester City||£49,000,000 *||14 July 2015|
|Rickie Lambert||WBA||£3,000,000||31 July 2015|
|Fabio Borini||Sunderland||£10,000,000 *||31 August 2015|