Identity is such an important concept in soccer. It’s formed by a variety of facets; from the badge, stadium, name, kit color and history. In the modern game, a key part of a team’s identity is the brand of soccer they play, which is essentially the stylistic representation of a manager’s principles.
One boss who is perhaps more obvious than most when it comes his ideologies is Brendan Rodgers. And as Liverpool smashed in five goals at White Hart Lane on Sunday, Rodgers will have been delighted with a performance that reeked of his influence. Since joining Liverpool, this showing would have pleased him more than any other to date.
It was Rodgers all over. They dominated the ball from back to front, the centre-backs split and built from deep, and the Liverpool midfield trio of Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson ran rings around their opponents. The attacking triumvirate of Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling were fluid and interchangeable, each player bringing their own qualities and a varying dimension to Liverpool’s attacking forays.
Every Liverpool player out-worked and out-thought their Tottenham counterpart. Red shirts buzzed about the pitch, picking up the ball in clever areas via subtle movements and clever passing angles.
They didn’t put a foot out of line and it was a showing that will lead many to re-evaluate their expectations for this Liverpool team. They have a bold, progressive manager who has implemented a philosophy. And despite derision from some quarters, he has continued to drill his philosophies into these Liverpool players. Rodgers’ self-belief has never waivered and he’s starting to reap the huge benefits of that.
Whilst the Reds were brimming with positivity and purpose, Tottenham looked embarrassingly out of sorts from the off. Their boss Andre Villas-Boas has since paid the ultimate price, as he was axed on Monday morning.
In truth, it comes as little surprise. In fact, it’s pretty obvious why Villas-Boas has been sacked: after an outlay of circa £100 million, the Spurs board were expecting a title challenge this year.
But it’s not materialized. Instead, they’ve undergone a strange season that has contained some bright spots, some glimpses of progress and some deplorable displays too.
Who should front the blame for this and who should Spurs turn to next remains to be seen, but where does this leave Villas-Boas? He’s been sacked twice now – by two of the biggest clubs in England – and reflecting on his collective time at both clubs, I’d struggle to tell you what type of manager he is, what his playing style is, what types of players he likes or even what his preferred formation is.