Is Brendan Rodgers the answer to Manchester United’s managerial woes?

Brendan Rodgers is a well known name in the United Kingdom. The Irishman has spent his managerial career coaching in Wales, England and Scotland. 

His spell at Swansea earned them a promotion to the Premier League and an 11th place finish the following season playing brilliant football. This led to a move to Liverpool where the 46 year old nearly brought the Premier League title to the red side of Merseyside. In Scotland, Rodgers ripped the success of his work deserved, collecting seven trophies and creating invincibility.

Brendan Rogers went to Swansea City after spell at Watford and Reading. His spell at the two England-based clubs isn’t one he will remember fondly. At Swansea, however, Brendan Rodgers not only got them promoted but did so with some style; playing brilliant, expansive and attacking football. His midfield of Joe Allen and Britton was a handful for most sides and with wide men like Scott Sinclair and Dyer; the Swans were a formidable team. His good work at the south coast was noticed by Liverpool who came calling. 

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Figure 2: Brendan Rogers with trophies won at Celtic

The prospect of managing a club as big as Liverpool was too compelling to turn down. He was confirmed a kop and whilst he did not win any silverware in charge, he came closer than Roy Hodgson and Sir Kenny Daglish ever did. It is also worth noting that the football his Liverpool team played was significantly better. He combined possession and counter attacking in phases making Liverpool a tough team to face as Arsenal learnt when the conceded 4 goals within 19 minutes at Anfield. The attacking quartet of Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho was devastating when firing on all cylinders.

Manchester United has had five different managers since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. The club has seen David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walk through the manager’s door. 

There have been some highs and lows during this period; however, public admission has to be made that this has been a pretty bad patch for United. Since 2013 when the veteran Scott left, the club has only collected an FA Cup, a Europa League title and the Carabao. These trophies were mostly considered secondary during the Ferguson era. During this period, the Manchester United hierarchy has coughed up transfer money accruing to about £1 billion. Managers have come, spent money and left unceremoniously.

There have been many theories that have been postulated to explain the demise of the once English football powerhouse, Manchester United. Some pundits have pointed fingers at the board and Ed Woodward in particular faulting him in his reluctance to back managers on some of the players and only concentrating on the financial aspect of the club. Other pundits have taken a swipe at the recruitment policy and the players signed. Pundits have argued that players like Darmian and Fred were not exactly Man United caliber. But the fact that they were wanted by Van Gaal and Mourinho respectively creates a conundrum.

Some of the reasons advanced were genuine and sensible but it must not be ignored that Manchester United have failed to appoint a manager who fits who they are. When Ferguson was appointed after his spell at Aberdeen, many wrote him off but after 26 years of 38 trophies, even the staunchest of his critics have some respect for him. Brendan Rodgers could just be the man Manchester United need desperately.

The Irishman has plenty of similarities with Alex Ferguson. Apart from both being from the UK and not having particularly stellar playing careers, they made names as being tactically astute, pragmatic if needed, offensive and entertaining. They didn’t fear to spend if that was to meant bring success. Brendan Rodgers could be the closest thing to a clown between Joseph Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. In his time at Liverpool, Celtic and Leicester, he has entertained fans with brilliant attacking play but also shut shop when needed. His Swansea team was a spectacle… this Leicester team is effective.

Brendan Rodgers brings with him a wealth of Premier League management experience something Solskjaer hasn’t got in plenty, a winning mentality and an attractive style of play. He will obviously not play as well as Manchester City but will certainly have the fans getting value for their money. At the moment, not many coaches available are a good fit for the red devils. The most high profile coaches out of duty are Massimiliano Allegri, Jose Mourinho and Laurent Blanc. Mourinho is highly unlikely to return but the other two options have catching up to do if one of them lands the Man United employment contract.

Brendan Rodgers has also done considerably well with bringing players through the youth system as seen during this time at Chelsea and Swansea. He also played a big part in Sterling’s emergence. While at Liverpool, he signed Sturridge, Coutinho, Mignolet, Lovren, Joe Gomez, Adam Lallana, Sakho, Firmino and other important players. Some of these players are still integral parts of the Kop Army four years since his dismissal. His dismissal at Liverpool was not entirely his fault as lack of a replacement for Luis Suarez left a gaping hole in attack while his relationship with the owners hit rock bottom. This was especially about transfer business and fielding of new acquisitions. 

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Figure 3: Rodgers and Klopp comparison

In fact, Klopp recent observed that it was highly unlikely that a coach of Rodgers’ caliber could be sacked for lacking a football brain. The Liverpool manager said: “Brendan’s quality could not be the reason because I know how Liverpool were playing before and they were flying. We played them with Dortmund (in a pre-season friendly in August 2014). We were not in the best shape that day and we lost 4-0. They played really well and I already respected him as a manager.”

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