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What’s In A Manager?

 Posted by on July 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Jul 292013

I find the role of “manager” for a European football club to be absolutely fascinating.

Here in the United States the “head coach” of a sports team has his duties limited almost exclusively to producing results on the field. The completely separate role of “general manager” is primarily responsible for assembling the roster that the head coach has to develop. The two certainly try to collaborate for the sake of a cohesive organization, but the two positions pretty much stick to their “side of the tracks” so to speak.

But a manager of a European football club essentially has to do both of those jobs. The manager must have a wide range of skills. He (or she, one day God willing) has to be a master motivator. He needs to have an eye for talent in order to field the best players each week. His problem solving skills must be impeccable in order to figure just how to deploy said players. He must also be accountant, constantly aware of how much money is in his account to bring in players from the outside. Good negotiating skills go hand-in-hand with such financial wisdom. It’s no wonder great players rarely go on to become great managers. The leap from the narrow mindset of one player with one responsibility out of 11 to that of one with the omnipotence of a benevolent dictator is not for everyone.

And so my question is this: Does Brendan Rodgers have all of the necessary skills to become a great manager?

Let’s break it down…

Motivator: 7/10

I never watched Being Liverpool but pretty much everyone I know who did see it felt ready to run through a brick wall for Brendan Rodgers afterwards. He certainly has a way with words and almost plays mind games at times with his players in order to get the best out of them. While his team didn’t get the results against Top 4 clubs the way Kenny Dalglish did in 2011-12, Rodgers did motivate his players enough to make life difficult for superior teams.

Scouting: 9/10

While Joe Allen and Fabio Borini struggled with injuries in their first season at Anfield, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge showed that Rodgers is more than capable of identifying good players. You can certainly make the argument if you go back to his tenure at Swansea as well. With several new additions in the form of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, he’ll have another chance to show us all just keen his eye for talent is.

Tactics: 5/10

While Rodgers does have a clear vision of how he wants his team to play, he struggled at times last season to get everyone in the right place. The high line he wanted from his back four did not play to the strengths of Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, and Jose Enrique. Luis Suarez is the perfect lone striker for a 4-3-3, capable of creating plenty of chances for himself out of nothing. As good as Steven Gerrard is, he looked out of sorts at times when asked to play in a three man midfield, all of whom were technically considered “central midfielders”. We’ll see if the new additions can fit in more seamlessly this season.

Money Management: 6/10

Daniel Sturridge proved to be worth his transfer fee in just a couple months worth of play. Let’s hope he can continue where he left off now that he will be given a much more prominent role, especially if Luis Suarez departs. Philippe Coutinho was also a good bit of business and while the Clint Dempsey deadline saga didn’t end well, Rodgers got a decent amount back for Andy Carroll and put it to good use (in financial terms, the jury is out on results) in the form of the aforementioned Aspas, Luis Alberto, and also Kolo Toure and Simon Mignolet. He also did a good bit of business selling off Jonjo Shelvey for roughly £6 million.

Negotiating: 5/10

The Dempsey deadline saga last summer may or may not have been Rodgers’ fault entirely. In hindsight it appears there was a lot of mis-communication between Rodgers and the folks at Fenway Sports Group. Regardless, this Luis Suarez situation is getting out of hand quickly (assuming the club is trying to sell him, which nobody at Anfield seems to know for certani either) and Pepe Reina seems to think his own situation could have been handled much better.

Those aren’t the scores of a manager capable of returning to Europe and restoring glory to the ghosts of Anfield Past. Look around at his competitors for example. Despite a quiet summer of his own, Arsene Wenger has shown himself to be an excellent manager of his squad’s transfer coffers and has consistently produced a Top 4 finish to earn a big, fat Champions League paycheck. Jose Mourinho isn’t called “The Special One” for nothing. There’s turnover at both Manchester clubs, but David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini have had great success with lesser clubs, though the latter seemed to spend out his welcome in Spain.

The bottom line is that I don’t believe Brendan Rodgers can be both a great “coach” and “general manager”. He seems to be much more suited for the former than the latter. But part of being a manager in modern football is being able to outsmart your competitors when it comes to financial negotiations. Time will tell if this transfer window proves to be more fruitful than his first one in 2012, but he’ll need to sharpen his off-the-pitch skills if he wants to bring in the talent necessary to take Liverpool back to the Champions League.


“Walk On With Hope In Your Heart And You’ll Never Walk Alone”

Adam Uthe

VP of Content Development for GFT and proud supporter of Columbus Crew (MLS) and Liverpool FC (EPL). @AUtheGFT

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