Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Brendan Rodgers needs to learn from Louis van Gaal, for Liverpool’s sake

Last season, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers – while commenting about Tottenham – said,

“If you spend more than £100m, you expect to be challenging for the league.”

This season, Liverpool spent a staggering £117m, following the departure of Luis Suarez, only to be knocked-out of the Champions League in the group stages, while suffering a humiliating exit from Europa League in the very first knock-out rounds, and eventually finishing the season at sixth position.

What does this mean for Liverpool? No European football next season, for sure.

From talking about his ‘coaching bible’ to accepting that he might be on the verge of a potential sacking, after his side’s shambolic final-day display, Rodgers needs to understand that he is in hot water. The club gave the loyal, long serving captain Steven Gerrard the worst possible farewell in my opinion.

This season was a disaster for Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard. Photo: Reuters

This isn’t the first time that someone’s words have come back to haunt him but, in Rodgers’s, it seems to have been a perpetually ironic case. After his initial struggles during his first season in Liverpool, Rodgers also claimed:

“Judge me after three years”.

Although one game doesn’t necessarily define your campaign, I believe in this case it did. After exactly three years, in the last game of the season and also after claiming that defending is not difficult and a team can easily be set for this task, Rodgers’s Liverpool side was hammered 6-1.

Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Reuters

To add to this, we are talking about the manager of a team that finished second and almost won the league title the preceding season but got everything, from transfers to tactics, wrong this season.

After Manchester United defeated Liverpool in the final of 2014 International Champions Cup, Rodgers warned the (then) new United manager, Louis van Gaal, that it’s not going to be an easy ride in the Premier League. What Rodgers forgot was that the same implied to him as well. And it did not work out very well for his club.

To mock Manchester United faithfuls, Liverpool supporters declared Brendan Rodgers to be the ‘carefully Chosen One’, since previous United manager David Moyes was labelled as the ‘Chosen One’. However, this too backfired on Liverpool supporters (talk about karma) as they didn’t only finish behind their greatest rivals, Manchester United, but will now have to wait at least another year to make it into a European competition again.

Louis van Gaal. Photo: Reuters

On the other side, after their most disappointing campaign in Premier League history, Manchester United switched their attention to attaining the services of a manager capable enough to not only rebuild the squad but also maintain the status of the club – Louis van Gaal.

Given his resume, Van Gaal was appointed as the new manager of the club. Although regarded as one of Europe’s greatest, the beginning of Van Gaal’s era at Old Trafford was not as great as I had assumed. In fact, he received a lot of criticism from pundits and fans for not realising that the 3-5-2 formation wasn’t working for the team.

This is where the comparison between Van Gaal and Rodgers emerges.

Van Gaal realised that he must implement a different strategy and do whatever it takes to get results, which he did. But the same can be said about Rodgers. He refuses to take the blame for not having a separate strategy in mind, which has made things far worse for the Reds.

A month before the end of the season, many were of the view that while Van Gaal had managed to turn things around and have a great season, Rodgers was still living a nightmare because of his stubbornness. Well, the point is, Van Gaal was signed to first of all secure a Champions League spot, establish a team of his own choice and then, in the next couple of years, look to challenge for the title. For a club that finished seventh (below third for the first time ever in their Premier League history), if any team required to spend critically, it was Manchester United. The fact that Liverpool has turned from being European Heavyweights to failing in making it into the UCL is an alarm enough for rivals United.

The club has realised it and has made Champions League qualification a priority.

If you ask me, Van Gaal did what he was asked to. But now we have to turn our attention to Rodgers and ask the million dollar question: how does a team better its second place finish? It’s certainly not by finishing outside of the top-five.

From what we have seen this season, it’s not difficult to tell who the actual ‘carefully Chosen One’ was. Rodgers has run out of both time and excuses. If Liverpool has any plans of bringing back the glory days, they must bring in a manager proven at the biggest European stage.

from The Express Tribune Blog http://ift.tt/1FdDohJ

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