At the time of writing this, Brendan Rodgers has just been unvieled as the new manager of Liverpool. The media seems intent on convincing us that this is a fantastic appointment, and Rodgers is a fantastic manager. I don't think this is the case, read on to find out why.
Brendan Rodgers had a fantastic season with Swansea, taking them to 11th in their first Premier League season. He does deserve credit for that, but is he really this great manager that the media seems to think he is?
I watched both Sunderland games against Swansea and was not very impressed. They kept the ball well but had very little penetration. We comfortably beat them at the SoL by soaking up what little pressure they put us under, and hitting them on the break with quick incisive play. If plan A, the possesion based game, does not work, Rodgers didn't seem to have an answer. That was why we sat back, let them play around the halfway mark but stopped them getting close to our goal and it is why we won.
This was not an isolated incident, when Swansea played Newcastle they had massive amounts of possesion but lost 2-0. Again, it all looked pretty on the highlights, nice passing to feet around halfway, but the important statistic is that Newcastle scored two goals and Swansea didn't score any. Pardew knew exactly how to line up against them and how to beat them. Two managers that didn't lose to Swansea this season, both taking four points away from their encounters with Rodgers.
I think that the very best managers are reactive, they change tactics based on the opposition and they also have a plan b if the game isn't going their way. Paul Lambert is excellent at this, when Norwich were due to play Newcastle and Newcastle had no fit central defenders he started two tall strikers and got balls into the box at every opportunity. They won comfortably. I think he would have been a far better appointment for Liverpool. Indeed, Pardew or O'Neill would have been too, and I'm certainly play MoN's name was not linked too much.
By far the best example of a good manager having many different tactics and being able to exploit the opponents weaknesses in Alex Ferguson. By and large United line up with a single striker in European games, wanting to control the midfield knowing that draws away from home are massively important. He often lines up in the same way against United's nearest rivals in a similar way, which is why they have won the Premier League more times than those rivals. I could continue to cite more examples, but I can't think of a better example that really helps to illustrate the point.
It must not be forgotten that this was Swansea's first season in the premier league, and with Sunderland, Tottenham and Newcastle already figuring out how to beat them, how long would it be before other teams would do the same?
I maybe wrong about Rodgers, he may well be a manager that has more tactics than nice passing triangles on the centre circle, but if he doesn't, then I think Liverpool will have made the wrong appointment, again, and will struggle to make the Champions League spots.