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Making changes to the coaching staff at a football club may not seem like a monumental occurrence. But for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, the recent shuffling of the pack at Anfield could be a defining moment in the career of the young manager.
When the final whistle blew at the Britannia Stadium on the final day of last season, many people questioned whether the Northern Irishman would be able to survive the fallout from the humiliating 6-1 defeat inflicted by Stoke City. Fan forums went into meltdown, replacements were touted and an emergency meeting was called by the club’s hierarchy.
It is testament to either the board’s faith in his abilities or Rodger’s skill as a salesman that he came away from that meeting relatively unscathed, and with the full backing of his superiors. The subsequent dismissals of assistant manager, Colin Pascoe and first team coach, Mike Marsh gave many observers the impression that Rodgers may have thrown his colleagues under the bus when it came to apportioning blame for Liverpool’s underwhelming season.
Whatever the circumstances behind the departures, it is clear that Merseyside club’s American owners have decided to give Rodgers the opportunity to put things right – and on his own terms. While many of last year’s transfer dealings were not fully endorsed by the manager, it is expected that this summer the focus will be on bagging Rodgers preferred targets, both on and off the field.
By putting so much faith in their manager, the American owners are also giving the Red’s boss enough rope to hang himself should things not improve in the coming season. In fact, Rodgers now finds himself in a position where the next 12 months will be make or break.
After extolling the virtues of having a clear philosophy in his first three seasons at the helm, Rodgers is now talking about taking the club in “a new technical direction.” The appointments of Sean O’Driscoll and Pep Lijnders are integral to this new vision.
After plying his progressive style of football with varying degrees of success in the lower leagues, O’Driscoll was eventually appointed coach of the England under-19 set-up, and has now quit that role to join the Anfield boot room. Lijnders was already working at the Liverpool academy where his impressive work with the under-16s persuaded Rodgers that he was ready to make the step up.
With another first-team coach also due to be appointed, Rodgers will have a whole new set of technical minds at his disposal next term.
Once the football gets underway in August; the performance of this newly-assembled back room team will be under just as much scrutiny as that of any players that Liverpool might recruit this summer.
Written by Neil Morris
Follow Neil on Twitter @nmorris01
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