Is It Time For Liverpool Supporters To Give Rodgers More Respect?

So last night was a bit mad, then. To an extent I think a lot of it was about most Liverpool supporters not really knowing what to expect from Salzburg. When they dispatched Genk with such ease in match week one most people just assumed that it was because the Belgian club are that bad rather than because the Red Bull-financed team had all that much to offer. We now know different, of course. They’re a team that knows how to find the back of the net and when it came up against our defensive line having a bit of an off day it’s no major surprise that they got on the scoresheet a couple of times. I spent all of yesterday meaning to place a bet on Liverpool to win and Both Teams To Score, but I forgot. That gives you some indication of how I saw the game going, though even I didn’t think it would be quite as wild as it was. There’s an extent to which Salzburg’s approach reminded me of Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.

They made the game a bit crazy in the second half and came very close to getting something out of it. Shifting the balance of the team from being overtly defensive to all-out attack is a move that won’t often win things, but it will let you come very close. They were unlucky in many ways that they came up against Jürgen Klopp’s side, which has developed mental fortitude that most of us haven’t seen at Anfield since the days of Rafa Benitez a decade ago. Had Rodgers still been in the Anfield hot-seat it’s possible that game would have finished about eight-all. Salzburg have a few players I wouldn’t mind Michael Edwards looking at in the summer, with Hee-Chan Hwang and Takumi Minamino being at the top of my list. The more I thought about it, though, the more I thought that it might be time for some supporters to re-evaluate Brendan Rodgers’ time at the club. Here’s Why:

He Wasn’t Perfect, But He Tried His Best

Brendan Rodgers wasn’t perfect during his time at Anfield. Yes, there were times when he was more than a little bit cringe-inducing with some of the things that he said. Yet I also think that he was judged in a way that many other managers aren’t. Imagine for one second that some of the things that Jürgen Klopp said during the early part of his tenure had been said in a Northern Irish accent rather than a German one. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • My biggest skill is common sense. I understand life.
  • I am not a dreamer. I am a football romantic.
  • I was a fighting machine with a will of iron.

The point is not to slag off Klopp, of course. It’s to point out that managers are expected to be available to the press all the time, meaning that they’ll say some cringey stuff from time to time. Those that dislike Rodgers will point to Klopp’s success and say that that means that he’s allowed to say such things. Does Rodgers’ success in Scotland now mean that he can be excused such quote-worthy moments? Again, his critics will say not because of how ‘easy’ the Scottish league is, but if that’s the case then why doesn’t every manager go an entire season unbeaten in all domestic competitions up there?

It was clear to me that Brendan Rodgers wanted the best for Liverpool Football Club. He wanted personal success in that too, of course, but who doesn’t? Having been given non-stop plaudits for what he did at Swansea, he arrived at Anfield probably knowing that the job was too big for him and displaying gusto and bravado that would have given him at least a slight chance of commanding respect from those in the dressing room. It didn’t always work, but his reason for acting the big I am was understandable in the circumstance. He wanted to do his best and, at the time, came closer than any other manager to bringing the holy grail back home.

His Circumstances Weren’t Ideal

It’s easy to forget now, but the circumstances in which Brendan Rodgers found himself during his time at Anfield were far from ideal. Despite what some cranks and weirdos might think, Fenway Sports Group have shown themselves to be excellent custodians of LFC, but during Rodgers’ time at the club they were still finding their feet. Some of the problems were the Northern Irishman’s own making, such as his refusal to trust Michael Edwards and his team, but I can’t help but think that some of those issues might have been avoided if FSG had been a little firmer in their approach to how they wanted to the club run and didn’t give the former Swansea manager quite so much power. Yes, he refused to work with the structure that is in place now, but might he have done better if he hadn’t been give the choice in the first place?

Even away from the transfer arguments, though, Rodgers suffered from a number of other circumstantial issues. How many managers would cope with a film crew following them around a la Being: Liverpool? Pep Guardiola is one of the best mangers in the world but doesn’t always look great in Amazon’s Manchester City documentary, for example. Then there was the retirement of Jamie Carragher, the ageing Steven Gerrard and the antic of Luis Suarez. There were all big moments in the club’s history that an inexperienced manager wasn’t necessarily well-placed to deal with. Even in amongst all of that, though, he nurtured the talent of Raheem Sterling, re-invented Gerrard as a holding midfielder and watched over Suarez’s development to becoming one of the world’s best. On top of all of that we nearly won the title and the people that say that that was entirely down to the Uruguayan will never understand football.

The Northern Irishman will never win over certain sections of the Liverpool fanbase, but one day I hope he’s given the credit he deserves. I also hope he’s given a rousing reception on Saturday. As long as he doesn’t leave with the points.

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