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5 Secrets to the Success Of Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool has gotten a Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola on the cheap. The Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers worked under Mourinho at Chelsea, where the Northern Irishman was manager of the reserve team. Meanwhile, his Swansea team has idolized and copied the best facets of Barcelona’s football — their possession-based tiki-taka football that was a breath of fresh air in the Premier League last season. With Mourinho under contract at Real Madrid until 2016, and Guardiola on a one-year sabbatical, Liverpool got the next best thing — a British manager with experience in the Premier League, who is a hybrid of Mourinho and Guardiola.

But during his managerial days at Watford, Reading and Swansea, what were the secrets to his success? What was he able to do that other could not, which led to his managerial appointment at Liverpool?

Here are Brendan Rodgers’ five secrets to his success:

1. Select players who are hungry.

Swansea and Brendan Rodgers have succeeded by finding players who are hungry to win, and have something to prove. In Wales, he has taken footballers from the lower leagues and non-league football and given them an opportunity to shine at the highest level. While taking players from the lower leagues won’t work at Liverpool, there is the opportunity to take players from other clubs who would “die” to wear a Liverpool shirt — perhaps players from abroad who haven’t been given a top chance. Rodgers has connections in Spain, and a good eye for talent.

At the same time, there are several players currently at Liverpool who will find it difficult to fit in with a Rodgers team. Andy Carroll is the first that comes to mind. Rodgers doesn’t like a long ball game, and Carroll thrives on that. If Carroll is to stay at Liverpool, he’ll need to develop his goalscoring skills with the ball at his feet.

2. Win by keeping the ball.

Watch the above video from minute 7:16 onwards to learn more about Rodgers’s philosophy regarding his teams winning by keeping the ball. His philosophy about possession football seems simple enough, but it takes a ton of training, players with good technique plus a lot of stamina to make it work. It can be boring to watch at times, but as long as his teams control the ball, they have the greater opportunity to prevent the opposition from scoring. Plus, when his teams have the ball, his teams are resting, and finding time to catch their breath.

The supporters of Liverpool Football Club will appreciate possession football as long as it results in chances created or goals at the end of it.

3. When you lose the ball, press.

When I mentioned before that Rodgers teams rest when they have control of the ball, that’s because they press their opposition quite quickly and in numbers whenever they don’t have the ball. It’s when they press that Swansea is working the hardest. This tactic forces the opposition to be pressured into kicking the ball away quickly, which often results in a mistake, letting Swansea take possession once again. The tactic is right out of Barcelona’s book.

4. Think differently.

The transfer market is extremely predictable. The journalists and pundits talk about the same old players and how this club and that club is chasing their signature. But while the majority of Premier League clubs seem to chase the same pack of players, Rodgers swims against the tide, signing players that often go overlooked by other teams. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Michel Vorm are two perfect examples. They’re footballers that have the potential to move on to one of the biggest clubs in England, but very few Premier League clubs were talking about them. Until now, that is. With Rodgers, expect the unexpected.

5. Pass your way around teams.

Regulars to Anfield will remember the brilliant Liverpool sides of the 1970′s and 1980′s, where the Reds played opponents off the park with their glorious passing style. The simple but effective passing style that Rodgers prefers is similar to what Liverpool supporters know best. The combination of ball possession and passing your way around teams frustrates opponents. Plus, with Liverpool’s far greater resources, they’re able to afford strikers who are more clinical in front of goal than Swansea’s forwards.

The passing strategy sounds simple enough, but it’s harder to make it work — otherwise every team would be doing it already.

Overall, the secrets to Brendan Rodgers’s success have been a focus on the basics of the game. Maintain possession, pass the ball around and work hard when you don’t have the ball. Swansea benefitted greatly when Sigurdsson joined them on loan in January, so the side could utilize a creative midfielder to take the possession and turn it into something. Liverpool already has some talented players, but there’s an opportunity at the club to clean house and get rid of many of the footballers who are overrated or past their prime. Liverpool, under Fenway Sports Group, has the opportunity to build a new future for this club with Rodgers at the helm. For the continued upwards trajectory of Rodgers, let’s hope he’s a success on Merseyside.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, Liverpool, Swansea City. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to 5 Secrets to the Success Of Brendan Rodgers

  1. Gary says:

    Good points about Rodgers. He has studied the game in Spain, Italy and Holland (speaks Italian and Spanish) and loves the passing game as he believes it brings more success if you control the ball.

    I think he will need to redo the Liverpool squad so that only players capable of playing his style are retained and others sold off. I can see Vorm and Sigurdsson joining him at Liverpool. Reina is coming off a very poor season and might be one to go if Vorm arrives. Signing Sigurdsson would be interesting as he mostly plays in Gerard’s position and how well Gerard will fit into this new philosophy is left to be seen as he likes to play more directly and isn’t a patient player.

    These are very inetersting times for Liverpool as they remake themselves and how successful they are will depend on players buying into the new philosophy and ability to attract talented players who fit the new style.

    • Guy says:

      Gylfi was just sold to Swansea, so he’s going nowhere…….unless he has an “I go where Brendan goes,” clause in his contract. ;-)

      • The Gaffer says:

        That’s the tricky thing about Sigurdsson. Both Swansea and Hoffenheim agreed a fee for Sigurdsson. And Sigurdsson agreed personal terms. All that both clubs were waiting for was Sigurdsson to take his medical either today or tomorrow, but I don’t know (1) if there was any clause in his contract saying that he could opt out if Rodgers left, or (2) if there’s a way for Sigurdsson to pull out of the medical if he wants to wait to see who the new manager will be.

        My hope is that Sigurdsson joins the club, and that Rodgers doesn’t try to steal him away.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

        • The Gaffer says:

          I just got confirmation that even though Hoffenheim, Swansea and Sigurdsson agreed terms, no signature was done on paper until the medical is complete. Sigurdsson played for Iceland yesterday, so he isn’t expected to do his medical until tomorrow — if that even happens.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Guy says:

            As the world turns…………

            Would hate to see him not sign, but would understnd it. Who knows what a new manager will do? A lot of Swans on the edges of their seats right now.

  2. alltogethernow says:

    Is this a joke?

    Try not to lose the ball and try to get it back when you don’t have it? Revolutionary!

    • Guy says:

      I get your point, but the fact is that many teams don’t actually play a style of ball that matches that philosophy.

      • The Gaffer says:

        The tactics by Rodgers are simple but very few teams can come close to replicating them because it’s easier said than done.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

  3. FC Asheville says:

    Only getting more excited about Rodgers.

    LFC were battling until the Arsenal loss and all the air left the balloon. A change in tactics, and most of all some belief, will do wonders next season.

  4. Guy says:

    One thing Liverpool fans should get ready for is the “20 yard goal kick”. :-)

    Rodgers disdains the hoof and hope goal kick that most clubs employ. “Play it out of the back” is pretty much his motto in all situations. Of course, even that takes the right personnel and plenty of work, so it will be interesting to see how he puts that into practice at Liverpool.

    Interesting times at Liverpool next season. They certainly will be one of the teams that Mr. Neutrality here follows. ;-)

    • FC Asheville says:

      You hear that Carragher?! That’s the end of your career calling. Better start working on those coaching badges ol man. Thanks for the service.

  5. Mufc77 says:

    He can have the best footballing ideas around but when you don’t have the players to carry out your ideas on the pitch you’re pretty much screwed.

    Are Liverpool rebuilding the next 1-2 seasons or has he been given the dreaded champions league or nothing ultimatium. Will he be given the funds to bring in 2-3 top players in each of the next couple seasons because thats what they need. I’ve no doubt he will build his team from the back out, he needs a solid back 4 then he can build off of that. Carrolls days look numbered and if they can get a decent price for him they should probably take it. A goal scorer who can actually put the ball in the net 20+ times each season is badly needed.

    Most Importantly the new owners need to realize that it’s going to take a couple of years for them to get close to the top 4 again. The last thing Liverpool need is to end up like Chelsea changing managers every other season, if this happens it’s over for Liverpool football club.

    • Clampdown says:

      I doubt FSG thinks Champions League is a requirement for Rodgers next year. I’m sure what they want to see is progress and a system being put into place that will allow Liverpool to compete with better-funded clubs over the next several seasons. The team purchased by Dalglish and Commoli certainly didn’t look like one that would be successful.

      Initially lukewarm to the idea of Rodgers as manager, I’ve become pretty excited as I’ve read more and more about the guy.

  6. dust says:

    good to see you didn’t do anything rash yesterday, but the ste is being a little wonky

  7. Andyb says:

    Liverpool should have brought in Martinez, then after a few years of success he would’ve been poached by a bigger club and they would’ve made some money out of it, then hired a different manager, only for him also to get poached which they would’ve also made a bit of money from… then hire Rodgers who will then be successful by living off the style of play the previous 2 managers bedded into the team.

  8. Smokey Bacon says:

    Sacked by Christmas.

  9. dominjon says:

    Andy Carroll really doesn’t ‘thrive on a long ball game’. Not at all. Not what Liverpool played, not what Newcastle played.
    However it probably will be what Hodgson plays with him.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Good point. I wrote that with the Norway game in mind (see http://youtu.be/noIvyNS3VW4), but you’re correct.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • Clampdown says:

      To be fair, he really didn’t thrive at all for the past year and a half. Other than a few decent matches at the tail end of the season, he was piss poor. He actually is at his best when moving. Hopefully the style Rodgers prefers will get him to do this more.

  10. Frank says:

    I hope Rodgers sticks with his philosophy of passing, control and patience. With the squad as presently constituted at Liverpool there might be a tendency to maybe change this system to accommodate the likes of Carroll, Gerard and company. That would be a big mistake.

    The question for FSG is will they be willing to lose money by selling off those players not suited to the manager’s system. That is the big question.

  11. Why? says:

    I think Rodgers has taken a big gamble, but so have Liverpool. He will have to be good and quick, the pressure there in going to be threw the roof. I feel for Swansea who I believe could have built on last year if he had stayed on. Gaffer I see you feel he will be a success, but how do you think they will do without him? Who will be the next Manager?

    • The Gaffer says:

      Swansea is in talks with Graeme Jones, currently the assistant manager at Wigan. I’m considering writing a story about it as soon as I get a chance to gather my thoughts!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  12. Paul says:

    After watching his press conference this morning, I can say I’m very excited now after hearing what he had to say. Can’t wait for the season to start!

  13. Gary says:

    After watching the press conference it is obvious that Rodgers will be changing the style of play slowly which means we won’t see Liverpool play like Swansea right away. This transition means that we won’t see a complete change in the squad.

    I expect the owners to view a finish above last season as a success so that even if Liverpool are not in the top 4 they wouldn’t mind as long as there is improvement over last season. Not sure if Liverpool fans would accept that but it looks like the owners are looking in the long term.

    I’m glad that Swansea were able to get an agreement that Liverpool cannot buy a Swansea player for 12 months. This means that Liverpool won’t be able to raid Swansea for their players. It looks like Graeme Jones might be the next Swansea manager and that would be a good appointment as he has worked at Swansea before, presently works with Martinez who began the work at Swansea before Rodgers got there. Seems like a good fit to me. It will be interesting to see if Rodgers takes his assistants with him or not.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Rodgers’s assistants have joined him too — Swansea assistant manager Colin Pascoe, as well as two other coaches.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

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