Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool: So this is what it has come to

2 Comments

BBC is reporting Liverpool’s search for a manager is over. Now there’s only one big club in England without a permanent coach.

That’s because Swansea City’s Brendan Rodgers is set to take the helm at Anfield. He’ll get a three year deal. Swans will get $6-$7 million in compensation and the task of finding a new coach.

Seems Roberto Martínez would be a good fit, but would the booing stop at the Liberty Stadium should their prodigal son return? We’ll likely never know.

There was a number of reasons Martínez was a bad choice for Liverpool, all of which apply to Rodgers. Where Liverpool’s biggest concern is getting back into UEFA Champions League, Rodgers has no experience. He’s proven he can win at lower levels. He’s proven he can keep a team up. Neither of those skills are pertinent to success at Anfield.

More on Rodgers: A brief history of Liverpool’s new boss

But this line of thought begs a question: What if a manager at a lower-table club had no experience competing for Europe yet was truly – in an absolute, cosmic, indefatigable way – capable of success at Liverpool. How would we know?

We wouldn’t. That’s the unfair, double-edged sword that’s dividing this conversation. Rodgers hasn’t shown the skills to run Liverpool, the main reason being he hasn’t had the chance. Thus, any hire like this is going to be a leap of faith. The bosses with Fenway Sports Group must feel they have a view into Rodgers’ cosmic truth, because they’re set to push on.

There was a time when Liverpool didn’t have to make hires like this. They were capable of luring La Liga-winner bosses from Spain. They were capable of bringing in managers who took small West London clubs to within 90 minutes of a European title. Now, they’re hiring from below, even after an eighth place finish.

I still think Liverpool’s capable of hunting bigger game. Even the biggest cynic of Anfield’s lore would concede Liverpool’s managerial post is one of the 10-20 most prestigious in the world (excuse the large range). Is Brendan Rodgers one of the 10-20 best managers in the world? If he is, we have no proof.

Ideally, the Rodgers and Martínez’s of the world would have a spell at an Aston Villa-esque club – a place where you can build a team that could compete on the fringes of Europe and give people reason to think “if he can do it there …”

In fairness, that’s the same logic that led Roy Hodgson to Anfield, and we all know how that turned out.

There were other options, though they’re mostly names I’m pulling out of a hat. Luciano Spalletti’s done as much as he can in Russia. Manuel Pellegrini’s now linked with Roma; he seems willing to move from Malaga. Then there’s former boss Luis Enrique, or other Roma-linkee André Villas-Boas (who Liverpool interviewed). Dick Advocaat’s done will with Russia, Slaven Bilic’s in his last tournament with Croatia. Rudi Garcia’s seen his Lille team gutted, and who knows. If Liverpool was as persistent with Ajax’s Frank de Boar as they were with Rodgers, he may have come available.

All of these men have a pedigree that’s more consistent with the Anfield job than Rodgers’. But who knows. Maybe Rodgers’s interview gave FSG a glimpse into his cosmic awesomeness. Maybe there’s something specific to where FSG’s taking Liverpool that may preclude bringing in a man whose ideas are too firmly entrenched.

Or maybe, as we saw with de Boar and (originally) Rodgers, Liverpool just isn’t that glamourous a destination anymore? Unfortunately, that seems to be the message.