Connect in the back of the net

Brendan Rodgers doesn’t help himself. He really doesn’t.

Calling Joe Allen the Welsh Xavi? I love that he did that because it’s hilarious, but as a manager it put an unfair amount of expectation on ‘young Joe’.

The thing is though, while we can all enjoy a lighthearted ribbing of Brendan as a ‘football genius’ I actually think he might be. Here’s why.

 

Rodgers helps the Swans soar

When Swansea got promoted to the Premier League they were a lot of people’s favourites to go down.

They had a decent side, Scott Sinclair scored 27 goals in during the season that got them promoted, they had young Joe Allen and the more experienced Leon Britton, so yeah they had a bit of talent.

But just to put the club in context, their star signing that year was Danny Graham. Yeah, Danny Graham. Danny. Graham. That year was both Brendan’s and his club’s first season in the Premier League with very little top flight experience in the side.

And what did he do? He finished 11th, level on points with West Brom in 10th. So that’s basically a top half finish.

And the style of play he brought to the Premier League was received by pundits like manna from heaven. It was like no one had ever considered that a team might actually try and…wait for it…keep hold of the ball.

Brendan Rodgers made possession a thing. Before then no one cared.

Possession was for Arsenal and everyone else spent their time trying to run down the sides and drop a wicked cross on the big man’s head to pop it in the goal hole.

You want to know why everyone tries to keep the ball now? Sure, you’ll say Barcelona. But I say Brendan.

 

Making Liverpool league contenders

Not convinced yet? Well how about this.

Having changed the face of English football Rodgers took the Liverpool job. Liverpool, a club with one eye towards the future and its other two firmly focussed on its history.

When Brendan took over they were fresh off the back of the Luis Suarez race row.

Suarez was toxic and the club made the regrettable decision to wear t-shirts supporting their racist bitey striker in the face of his 8 game ban which he picked up for calling Patrice Evra something pretty nasty.

With Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam signed under Kenny Dalglish Liverpool had clearly given up on their aspirations of winning the League ever again and had decided to assemble the most expensive pub team ever.

Then came Brendan. His first season was nothing special, it saw a solid 7th placed finish, one higher than the previous season. It gave Liverpool no indication of what was around the corner.

See, around the corner was the 13–14 season during which Brendan Rodgers did something I can only describe as ‘absolute bits’. He rubbed two stones together and produced a diamond.

Henderson partnered Gerrard in midfield and instead of looking like Forrest Gump while he still had the leg braces on, Hendo looked like Liverpool’s future general.

At the back Rodgers turned the thoroughly Europa League Martin Skrtel into a titan and introduced a young lad who looked like every joke that has ever been made about someone from Liverpool, but who turned out to be a bloody good player.

His name was Jon Flanagan, aka Flanny Alves, aka the scouse Cafu. An unfortunate injury has held Flanagan back but 4 years on he has looked nowhere near the player he was in his DEBUT season under Rodgers.

Football genius indeed!

 

Polishing the rough diamonds

Upfront Rodgers turned Suarez into the most lethal striker in Europe.

I mean, on some level he was already the most lethal striker in Europe behind maybe Marlon King, but Rodgers made him lethal in the good, footbally way.

He scored 31 goals and got 12 assists in just 33 games. That’s mental. And how did he achieve that? With a little help from his friends.

A young lad named Raheem Sterling played right wing, left wing, number 10 and false 9 and looked incredible everywhere. The fact that he ran like a t-rex and had 14 children by the age of 18 only made him more endearing.

Inter Milan flop Philippe Coutinho played his role but I’d like to give a special mention to Daniel Sturridge.

In the 13–14 season Sturridge bagged 21 goals, finishing second in the goal rankings behind his mate Suarez. Two things are exceptional here.

Number 1, Daniel Sturridge played enough games to score 21 goals. In fact he played 29, the most he has played in a Premier League season. Number 2, he played a lot of the season coming in off the left.

Daniel Sturridge has often been slammed for not being a team player, but under Brendan Rodgers he let Suarez take the limelight while continuing to bring his A-game.

Jurgen Klopp hasn’t gotten within a million miles of cracking the enigma that is Daniel Sturridge, Brendan Rodgers did and he remains the only man who ever has. Emotional stuff.

 

Achievement shouldn’t be underplayed

Of course, things didn’t work out that season.

The team fell at the final hurdle, or slipped, whatever. But Brendan Rodger’s achievement cannot be underplayed, he took that team far beyond what it should have logically been capable of.

It was their highest finish since the days of Rafa when they had a better side featuring Torres, Gerrard, Alonso and Mascherano. It was also the first time they’d actually looked like winning the league in well, I don’t know because I’m only 22.

Now, for whatever reason Brendan ended up leaving Liverpool.

His reputation had taken a hit. I don’t know why, it baffles me.

 

Shining in Scotland

He was linked with the Swansea job, but it didn’t work out. Eventually he ended up at Celtic.

Now, disclaimer, I am well aware that Scotland is a tin pot league, Celtic’s dominance is a joke. But if you needed any more convincing of Brendan’s genius just listen to this, it’s obscene.

Last year Celtic won the league with such ease you almost wonder if it might be worth letting them into the Premier League (well only if they keep hold of Brendan).

It was with 8, that’s right 8, games to go that Celtic secured the league. They finished the season unbeaten, with 34 wins and 4 draws.

They scored 106 goals at a rate of 2.8 goals per game and Scott Sinclair (remember him) chalked up 21 goals and 8 assists thus making a thoroughly decent argument for getting in the England team.

He hasn’t yet, but if a player manages to get into the England team based on a season in exile in Scotland than that should secure Rodger’s status as a football genius right there.

Rodger’s also worked a little bit of his special magic by turning Moussa Dembele into the kind of player that goes to Bayern Munich for £36 million rather than the kind that goes to Huddersfield for £6 plus add ons.

 

Exceptional

It’s easy to win in Scotland, so making anyone take notice of what you’re doing is an exceptional achievement in itself.

Now that you’re convinced — all hail Brendan Rodgers, genius of football!

 

Written Scott Pope

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