The Northern Irishman inevitably expressed his delight at landing the Reds job but evidenced plenty of the steely resolve which could see him become a success on Merseyside
By David Lynch at Anfield
Though Liverpool’s fourth manager in just two years indulged in the usual pleasantries and cliche, Brendan Rodgers had plenty of opportunities to display his steely resolve at Anfield on Friday morning.
The lazy comparisons with Roy Hodgson’s arrival as a boss - moving from an overachieving ‘smaller’ club to one of Europe’s giants - could not have been more quickly dismissed. Hodgson was a yes man, an experienced campaigner receiving what was perceived to be his reward for a storied career in the game.
Rodgers, on the other hand, laid down his hunger and willingness to exercise his control right from the get go – the Reds are getting a strong character, no doubt.
A press release handed to the assembled journalists prior to the conference hailed the 39-year-old as “at the forefront of a new generation of football coaches, an excellent tactician and motivator with a progressive philosophy”. What it did not mention was the grit and one-eyed determination that had helped him translate that into success at Swansea.
The statement spoke of the club’s owners’ commitment to adhering to the continental football structure and the appointment of a sporting director to head that. However, Rodgers quickly moved to confirm that reports of his reluctance to fully surrender power to any such superior were not wide of the mark.
He told reporters: “From my perspective that was one of the things I brought up when I was speak with the club, that I wouldn’t work directly with someone in that [director of football] role. I work best around a group of a people. When you come to a big club you can’t do it on your own, there’s not one of us that’s better than all of us, of course there has to be leadership.
“But certainly for me if it was a sporting director or director of football that would be something that I made quite clear that I couldn’t work with. What you need at a football club is an outstanding recruitment team, an outstanding medical team, sports science team and these are all people that will come into a group and we as a club will form a technical board."
This obstinacy is something Fenway Sports Group doubtless encountered as they chased Rodgers to take the role. He confirmed that he had initially rebuffed the club’s initial approach due to his belief that he was not the number one choice for the managerial job. When the American owners returned to Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, they did so on Rodgers' terms. He had forced their hand and become the only target.
Inevitably, the conference contained the relevant box-ticking nod to Liverpool’s history and the customary promise to try to bring success to a club which has not won a league title in over 20 years. However, it was the Northern Irishman’s reference to the unusually strong link between the club and the city – something which is almost unique to Merseyside – which will particularly excite fans.
Liverpool are a club that needs a figure to revere, as Rafael Benitez was almost bemused to discover upon his arrival. This is a desire borne from Bill Shankly, a man of a modest background with a belief in the left-wing politics and working-class roots of the club he went on to make famous. Rodgers made his own references to wanting to become part of that long link.
He added: “For me first and foremost [my job is] to defend the principles of this great club, which is about offensive, creative football but with tactical discipline, and to retain the values of this club...that was the attraction, the history of the club.
“Also the frustrations, that was also an attraction. It's been nearly 20 years since they've won the title, and the realism - we might not be ready for the title now, but the process ends today in that it's a new cycle, and that's something we'll work towards in the years to come.
“All I’ll ever do is what I’ve done in every job and promise that I’ll fight for my life, for the supporters and the people of the city. It’s a real special club, I’m really looking forward to moving to the city with my family, and understanding more about life up north and around Liverpool which is a real vibrant city.”
Of course such principles would have been rendered irrelevant even in Shankly’s case had he failed to bring success, and only winning football matches can ensure that Rodgers has the chance to emulate that reign, in length at least.
Follow David Lynch on