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Swansea City
Posted by Max Hicks on 05/30/2012

After flirting heavily with ex-Swans boss Roberto Martinez, Liverpool have instead poached Brendan Rodgers from Swansea who will have to find their third manager since Martinez jumped ship to Wigan in 2009.

The talented Northern Irishman leaves the Swans with the best win rate in the club's history, with a 50.82% success rate. Rodgers' exit has led to speculation that loan star Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was poised to sign with the Swans this week, will now be reluctant to complete his move.

I would like to think that among Sigurdsson's priorities in choosing the Swans were factors like his team-mates, the city and the opportunity to play regular first team football in the Premier League. Sigurdsson would instantly become one of the elite players at Swansea, so ought to factor in any new managers plans for the team regardless of who that manager is.

On the subject of new managers, Huw Jenkins will look to appoint a boss who will continue playing football the Swansea way. Ironically, Martinez is in the bookmakers frame to return to Swansea, and is joint favourite along with Brighton's Gus Poyet at the time of writing. Poyet was said to be under consideration at the time Rodgers was appointed, and so seems likely to receive a phone call. For those who like to dream, Pep Guardiola is 50-1.

As for Rodgers, the move makes some sense, but not total sense. It is easy to understand the allure of an offer from a big team that can double or triple your wages, but the management structure of Liverpool might not suit Rodgers. If the talk of a moneyball management structure comes to fruition at Liverpool, then Rodgers would become a bit part player in the grand scheme.

Moneyball teams make committee decisions and are typically run from up on high. The 'game manager' has a very short leash and no real decision making power beyond tactics. Even then the tactics are dictated somewhat by the personnel and in a moneyball environment Rodgers wouldn't have quite as much say over transfers as he might like.

Rodgers is a good student of the game, so even if his only contribution was tactics, he would still have lots to offer, but moneyball managers are not appointed for their special or unique qualities, which poses the question 'why Rodgers?'. Any half decent manager could fit into such a system, and there are plenty out of work that wouldn't incur compensation.

Lyon, perhaps football's first moneyball side, won seven consecutive French titles with four different managers, and although some of those managers were big names, the feeling is they might have been anyone - the club's organisational system (and incredible transfer market play, which was dictated by a committee led by the club's President and Technical Director, but not the manager) allowed them to be successful. I hope for Rodgers sake he does get the chance to put his stamp on the team.

Regardless of how much autonomy Rodgers is granted, there is also the question of unproven talent. Liverpool fans will doubtless be sceptical, expecting a higher profile appointment and pointing to Rodgers limited track record. Whether they have a point remains to be seen, but I have to wonder whether it would have hurt Rodgers to wait another season or two?

Some say that he took the offer whilst it was there because, had he been relegated with Swansea next season, then he'd never get another high profile chance. However, if he was destined to be relegated with Swansea next season, then he can't be that good a manager, and will flounder at Liverpool.

On the other hand, if he is good enough, and I believe he is, then he could afford to see through his 'long term vision' for the Swans knowing that he had the talent to get a bigger job after establishing Swansea as a perennial Premier League team, which really would be an achievement worthy of big six consideration. After all, it's not like manager vacancies at big six teams are all that rare. Chelsea will probably have had another two or three by the time Jenkins finds Rodgers' replacement.

Of course, it's easy to sit around and talk about loyalty and pretend like we'd do it differently. The reality is that when a top side comes calling, you just don't say no (unless you really, really like Wigan). So good luck Brendan. With the unsellable signings of the Dalglish era piled up like last year's fashions in a fire damage sale, you'll have to earn every penny of that new salary. Just promise not to pinch any of our players, and if you could see your way to letting us have Sterling or Shelvey on loan, that'd be grand.

On to the next Swans boss. Realistically, I like Poyet, but slightly pushing the boat out I would love Michael Laudrup. 4-2-3-1 short passing machine. Sound familiar?

You can check the list and the odds here. Who would you like to see?

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Posted by LD on 05/31/2012

I'm a Chelsea supporter, but have followed the Swans closely this season and really enjoyed watching them (though i wish they made greater use of Mceachran!). It will be sad to see Brenden go. i think LFC fans underestimate him, but he will fit in really well there if the management structure doesn't cramp his style. I wonder if Paul Lambert is a possibility for Swansea, since rumor has it that he's resigned from Norwich.

It'll definitely be interesting to see how much free reign Liverpool give Rodgers, and next season's Liverpool v Swansea games are going to be even more interesting. I hope for his sake it is more rather than less.

As for Lambert, that might have worked. I'm still suspicious of his 'variations on a 4-4-2 with burly strikers' theme, but I do like the pace his teams play at. This morning's news says he's off to Villa however, which I actually think is a great fit for them.

The bookies now have Ian Holloway as out-and-out favourite for the Swans, and Laudrup remains a long shot... though I'm still hoping, M.

Posted by SupersSwans on 05/31/2012

I would hate to see Holloway here, I don't think those rumours are true. He is not into our style of play at all.

Instead I would the say the Bilbao coach and AVB are the real front runners.

AVB would be really interesting. I was surprised he didn't get further along the application process at Liverpool. I think he's a good manager who was frozen out by Chelsea's veterans in the locker room. At Swansea, he'd have no egos to deal with. M

Posted by david williams on 05/31/2012

your articlemakes a fair amount of sense but if you say liverpool become a moneyball club and it really doesn't matter who the manager is high profile or not,i.e. using lyon as an example.then tell me why get rid of dalgliesh.surely you would have taken those duties from him and allowed a so called committee to decide major footballing would have been a hell of a lot cheaper.

That's a fair point, but Dalglish is old school and I can't imagine would have enjoyed being forced into what's essentially an American Baseball team structure which is both new and largely untested in British football. Plus, when things go badly, someone has to be the fall guy as a show of intent to turn things around. In American sports culture, head coaches always get the gun before anyone else.

Of course, this is assuming such a moneyball structure will even be employed by Liverpool. Comolli was apparently into the moneyball idea, too, but many of the transfers he oversaw were perhaps the antithesis of that strategy. M

Posted by Sean on 05/31/2012

A thoughtful blog to read, and many good points made. However, I think you throw the cliche, "Moneyball" out there as if it were the title of a major motion picture. Given the economic climate of European football, it's easy to divide the larger clubs into two categories: The foreign multi-billionaire owners who throw money at players the moment they have a stand-out game, and the clubs who actually want to be profitable through smart, careful decisions.
Remember, "Moneyball" was used to describe FSG from the beginning, and you see the wreckless way they spent on trasnfers during the first two windows. One thing that was clear was that Dalglish had too much influence on the club and the amount of money spent.
In the United States, it's difficult to follow anything besides the EPL, so I thoroughly enjoyed being introduced to Swansea this year. Now my Icelandic mother-in-law and her family are hoping Rodgers can grab Gylfi. I'm sure odds are a little less than 50-1.

Yes, the irony of Comolli's Liverpool which was supposedly 'moneyball' is not lost on me; it's old news now but the performance return Liverpool have gotten so far on over £100 million transfer expenditure could be held up as the defining example of what a true moneyball approach was meant to avoid. And it is exactly due to this I feel FSG will try again, in earnest this time, to put Liverpool into the latter of the two categories you outlined, which might compromise Rodgers' freedom to impose his own ideas. Perhaps this is why the club went after a younger manager? It would be a harder sell to take a big name and impose some strict house rules on them, after all.

As for Gylfi, I think there's a fair chance he goes to Liverpool. I'd like to think he will still come to Swansea, but with an inexplicably underwhelming midfield at Liverpool (given they seemed to have 35 midfielders on the books last summer), there's space for him in the side, too. M

Posted by Ogundipe olalekan on 05/31/2012

I tink brendan rodgers is a gud coach,he can prove his ability at anfield bt at swansea dey shuld make use of mceachran,up chelsea

I'd like to see if the Swans can lure McEachran back for next season. It became hard for him to get into the side this time around because towards the end of the season, the Swans endured a bad spell and needed to rely on the chemistry of the starting eleven coming out of that slump to make themselves safe. It wasn't a good time to throw a youngster into a key position. Given some pre-season training with the squad and a full season ahead, I think the Swans could use him. M

Posted by Andes on 05/31/2012

It would be a big mistake if Rodgers does take up the Liverpool job. Main reason is - Liverpool fans today aren't exactly like what their chant suggested, unless he gets result right away, a Liverpool manager will very likely be walking alone. The Premiership is getting more competitive. There is no guarantee Liverpool will come off the block flying next season. When they do struggle, you bet their fans would inevitably start to question the appointment. After all, we are talking about a set of fans who called for Rafa's head, for whom he actually won the Champions League for them. So what chance Rodgers has with the Reds?

That's a good point. FSG have to have enough chutzpah to stand by Rodgers in the face of fan backlash if he does struggle, else the whole gambit will be a disaster, for Rodgers above all.

When Rodgers came to Swansea, he inherited a good side that already played 85% the same football as he has become famous for promoting. Players like Leon Britton, for example, make the Swans tick - they are system players who fit the style perfectly. If you like, Swansea is an example of synergy - the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. Putting a system like that into a new club that doesn't have one takes time, transfers and patience.

As you've pointed out, the Liverpool fans won't give him time. FSG might not give him much leeway in the transfer market either following the overspending of the past season, which might test Rodger's patience, so he'll have to hope he can make the existing Liverpool players fit into his system.

One thing in Rodgers favour is that, as an enthusiastic student of the tactics game, he has many strings to his bow. It's not a given he'll try the Swansea system at Liverpool. If he feels the players at Liverpool are better suited to another system, he'll try that instead. For example, at Swansea, we saw an experimental 3-4-3 in one game at the end of the season, which looked very positive.

At the end of the day, though, I agree with you that I think it is possibly a mistake. I'd have loved to see Rodgers stick out his contract with Swansea and then earn a bigger job through establishing the Swans in the Premier League. I can see how, in the eyes of Liverpool fans, Rodgers hasn't accomplished enough to make them feel confident in the appointment, even though - if it works out - they'll be pleasantly surprised to see the 'pass'n'move Liverpool groove' back in full swing. M

Posted by roger on 05/31/2012

I agree with some of the others here: Rodgers should have stayed another year at Swansea. This reminds me of McClaren hastily leaving FC Twente for Wolfsburg (a disaster) and Villas-Boas leaving FC Porto a season too soon.
How is Andy Carroll going to fit the style Rodgers likes to play? Plus, Liverpool is full of regressing players (Reina, Gerrard, Bellamy) and overpaid, overrated ones (Adam, Downing, Henderson). And for all his hype, Suarez is a loose cannon who squanders twice as many opportunities as he converts.

Your appraisal of the Liverpool playing staff is harshly (if not amusingly) worded but hard to argue with, and I agree with you. It's a tough ask at Liverpool, and your comparison with AVB in particular could be prophetic. At least Rogers doesn't have as big a culture barrier to break down.

After the season they've had, and with a new manager in situ, Liverpool will be hard pushed to get decent prices should they try to move some of those players on, which makes me think Rodgers' will be left with 90% the same squad to work with. Dalglish's apparent retrograde tactical vision, embodied by the 'Carroll as target man, Downing as classic winger' pairing which completely misfired, couldn't be more at odds with Rodgers' continental progressive style. I'm actually looking forward to seeing how he uses Liverpool's players, because they're a jumbled bunch on paper. M

Posted by henry on 05/31/2012

I must say this is the first time i enjoyed reading a blog that does not deal with the top six. I really enjoy your analysis. keep it up.

Thank you, I shall! M

Posted by peter on 05/31/2012

i real think rodger did not deserve the position as liverpool manager,but let give him so time and we want he has in store.:peter liverpool fan

I think Rodgers has benefited from being a young, progressive manager at a time when young, progressive managers are seen as the way forward. Of course, Rodgers' work with Swansea is one of the very reasons young managers are in demand in the first place, so in some ways he's getting exactly what he deserves from his point of view. I still think it's too soon, though. M

Posted by Lammiesky on 05/31/2012

As for me, it cuts 2 ways. A good team can make a bad coach good and a bad team can make a good coach bad. But i want to look at it from a 3rd perspective. i hv a feeling we might just be witnessing the start of another Mourinho/Guardiola legacy. nobody knew these men until they took d reigns @ porto/chelsea. mou won d tripple in portugal including d UCL and pep ruled spain and d entire europe during his 4 yr stay. Their beginning? humble. Mou @ a modest U de leira and pep, barca's 'b' team. my tots goes to Rodgers 2 surprise us all and take LFC back to good things in 2-3 yrs. already, he has d tactics of playing attractive football dat can be 'compared' to barca and arsenal. what is left is personnel. however, he must overcome the likely problem of attracting quality players that will help him achieve cos i know he will have cash to spend like he has never b4. it is left to be seen if he can compete with d big boys in the mkt. let's just wait and see. ofcourse, i might also be wrong

You make a good point, and I think FSG have identified Rogers' as another potential Mourinho or Guardiola. For me, the biggest factor in his success, apart from the Liverpool fans giving him time, will be how Liverpool use him. How much freedom the management structure will give him, or, if they do impose a tight control, how sympathetic Rodgers' ideas are with whoever ultimately takes directorial positions in the organisation. M

Posted by Michael on 05/31/2012

Wigan supporter here. My commiserations to Swansea City supporters, a group with which I feel a certain amount of affinity due to having Roberto Martinez in common. I see no sense in Rodgers making this move, unless he just cares about increasing his pay. Far better to stick with Swansea City, a club on the up, and work on further developing that squad and club, than to take the Liverpool job and be on a seeming hiding to nothing, especially since likely no manager would be able to mold that squad into a Top 4 club, which Liverpool seems to believe is still very much their goal. Best wishes to Swansea City in their search for a new manager, assuming it isn't Martinez!!!

I think Martinez will always carry a special place in the hearts and minds of most Swans fans. According to the the bookies, he's now third in the running and drifting (behind Poyet and favourite Holloway). After refuting Liverpool and Villa, I'm guessing he's happy to carry on with Wigan. I also agree with what you've said about Rodgers. Liverpool's probably not going to be a cakewalk.

Posted by oscar on 05/31/2012

chelsea fan, jakarta
hopefully fsg make a smart move n epl will have 3 contender (chelsea, m. city, liverpool). otherwise kind of boring with only 2.

No Man Utd? M

Posted by Joe Smith on 05/31/2012

I little more transparency by FSG would be appreciated. I wanna believe in FSG's leadership...they have to earn my confidence first. They've done pretty well thus far though. I just wanna see LFC return to contention in the league. Not just top four, but top two or three. C'mon LFC!

The latest word has Rodgers' taking assistant manager (and former Swans legend) Colin Pascoe with him, along with the Swans conditioning expert and match analyst. Some are suggesting this implies Rodgers' will be given more control than at first imagined. However, as useful as these staff members are, they are typical of a football team staff and their presence does not imply that FSG won't also be employing a director of football and so on above Rodgers. The unfolding new-look organisation at Liverpool might still be vague, but at least you do know your kit next season will look pretty smart. M

Posted by DT on 05/31/2012

Moneyball is the really the concept popularized by the Oakland Athletics, a small market team that did not have the money to compete with big spending teams like New York and Boston. The concept involved find inexpensive players that statistically excelled and then the law of averages would generate performance on the field.

Some would argue that Liverpool tried this with Downing, Adam and Henderson. All who were leaders in the Premiere league in providing assists. Needless this did not generate goals for Liverpool. The statistical concept works with "moneyball" but clearly the transfer fees do not, nor did the performance.

FSG is looking at a more General Manager type roll which is prevelant in all major American sports. Managers still have input on the needs and filling them but are generally removed from the negotiations.

Well, quite. Paying anywhere near as much as Liverpool did for those players was never going to work. The players might have represented good acquisitions on paper based on stats, but without a modest transfer fee, the team isn't playing the moneyball game any more. The idea of the concept is to pay less money for more performance, to find value in players which have been overlooked by other teams, not pay through the nose for one season of good stats, because that's ironically how the rich teams usually do business.

If there is only going to be a GM figure at Liverpool, then Rodgers might have a little more room for manoeuvre. He's got a great eye for talent, so it would be to waste his acumen if he weren't allowed some significant input.

Posted by Melbourne on 05/31/2012

I fancy Rodgers @ Anfield as I think his passing style hearkens back to the Reds' established style of play that has waned in recent seasons. My fear, as a Kopite, is not that Rodgers isn't a capable manager, it's that FSG aren't quite as capable as owners. I respect their vision but I only hope the organisation allows the man to dictate the direction necessary to go forward. Cheers.

As a Swans fan, I am very interested to see what Rodgers does with Liverpool for more or less the same reason - Liverpool owned the 'pass'n'move' idea in British football for decades, and superficially at least, Roidgers looks to be the man to bring that back.

However, what goes unsaid too often is that at Swansea, Rodgers inherited a good side of footballers who were already playing that way. Martinez really accelerated what was already a strong footballing culture and brought the continental influence to bear. Sousa, who came next, taught Martinez' attacking side how to defend. So when Rodgers arrived after Sousa, he had a team already au fait with playing a defensively responsible, possession based, short passing style.

As you've pointed out, Liverpool, thanks to Hodgson's unpopular pragmatism and Dalglish's anachronistic approach after him, have lost their way a bit, so Rodgers will not be walking into a ready made set-up this time. It'll be interesting to see how he shapes the club, on the field, and - if he's allowed to - off it, as well. M

Posted by Big Sam's Brother on 05/31/2012

I like Gus Poyet and what he has done at Brighton. I think he can bring the same winning mentality to Swansea. I had three Swans in my fantasy team this year and they did not disappoint me. Here's to staying up another year and making the top 10 to you. Cheers.

Well, I appreciate your optimism! The latest word has Martinez's assistant manager at Wigan - Graeme Jones - coming back to Swansea (he was Martinez's assistant here, too), albeit as manager proper this time. Jenkins has done well so far with his managerial appointments, but with all the bigger names being thrown around, this might be an anti-climactic solution for Swans fans. I liked Poyet myself because he's not just good at coaching a similar style of football, but he ought to be attainable, too. I guess we'll see, but I'm a little concerned that 'affordable' will trump 'exciting', 'popular' or 'proven' in the new manager sweepstakes. M

Posted by Dust on 05/31/2012

As Liverpool fan I am very uncertain as to what will happen. Liverpool are traditionally a very direct fast paced attacking side. With Brendan at the helm the attacks will be slow and he will surely implement his possession style of play. It will be fun to watch for sure, possibly drawing comparisons with Barcelona. On the other hand he is even inexperienced at the lower level having managed Reading and the Swans (barely over 100 games). I do not think he is a great option but certainly better than Roberto Martinez. It would be really embarrassing to be honest if we had a manager who has barely kept a lower Premier League team up.
What we really need is a strong manager who does not care for what has happened in the past nor care whether the player is British or not. Jamie Carragher, Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam all need to go. The other 3 British flops of last season are still young, have only 1 season under their belts, and for me have more potential (Carroll, Hendo, Stewie)

I think you voice the concerns of many Liverpool fans. Talk radio was full of disgruntled Liverpool fans wishing for a Guardiola or such like, and radio hosts laughing off the suggestion, claiming that Liverpool weren't big enough anymore to attract those names.

I think that's a load of tosh. Liverpool as a football club, as a brand, are easily big enough to attract big names, of course they are. The problem might have been that big names just didn't like the particular situation they'd be going into - a team full of players either over-priced, over-paid or on-the-decline, with the suggestion they would also have to answer to other personnel in a new management structure.

None of that sounds like a good deal for any top manager with experience; if anything, it's a warning light. Would you want to risk your hard-earned reputation cleaning up someone else's mess?

I agree with your appraisals on the Liverpool players. As bad as Downing has been, for example, he was electric on occasion for Villa, so he has it in him. Dalglish's 'buy British' mentality is at least half the reason he had to pay such a premium for some of those players.

As for Rodgers, I don't know if he will play the same game as Swansea with Liverpool, because I'm not convinced Liverpool have the right players. Brendan's is a system game, and this is where tactics clash with egos - the bigger the team, the bigger the star players, the less they want to buy into a system which might not feature them in the way they want. System football is typically the saving grace of the lowlier side, and although Swansea's football was easy-on-the-eye, it was still a system at heart.

Barca are an obvious exception to the rule, but not really. Barca's system worked mostly because the majority of their first team were brought up through the ranks - they were literally nurtured into it, so the clashes never happened. And those players transferred in had the likes of Messi and Iniesta saying 'this is how we play' - who's going to argue with them? They managed to marry system football with incredible individual flair on demand - no wonder they became the best club side in history.

Going back to Liverpool, I imagine confidence in the locker room is sufficiently low as to allow Rodgers to impose his ideas without too much opposition, but those ideas might not follow the Swansea blueprint, although having said that, if there's one thing Rodgers always preaches it's 'possession, possession, possession', and it's hard to keep possession playing fast. M

Posted by Kevin on 05/31/2012

All of you keep forgetting that FSG took a Red Sox team that went EIGHTY SIX YEARS without a title and got them TWO titles in five years. They are not morons. The "Moneyball" concept can only fly if you have a great deal of investment. Keeping in mind I despise the Red Sox with every fiber of my being (I am a Yankee fan), I have to admit they know how to run a franchise. Their payroll is actually one of the highest in MLB and I am sure that even though they won't be able to compete with Ivan Drago and Hasan Chop's of the EPL, they will have a very, very formidable structure in place. Rodgers has the brains and the foundation to do some really great things provided the young players purchased fit his ideology.

I'm well aware of the Red Sox reversal of fortunes, but that had more to do with Bill James than FSG, although Henry did have the foresight to employ James... but only after Billy Beane had proven James' ideas worked in practice with Oakland. Besides which, the moneyball concept was used at Oakland specifically to nullify the advantage rich teams had over them, so no, you do not need a great deal of investment to employ moneyball tactics. Quite the contrary, although it works just as well with plenty of investment, but then, what doesn't?

The point I was making by questioning the potential structure of Liverpool was merely that Rodgers might have walked into a situation that will stifle some of his abilities. Whether or not that helps or hinders Liverpool football club is not really of special interest to me - I was speculating more on how it will help or hinder the career of Brendan Rodgers.

Had he waited it out with the Swans, he might have been in line to take charge at, for example, Chelsea in the next two to three years, especially given his connections to the club, and subsequently enjoyed a more expansive role, even the chance to embed himself as a Ferguson or Wenger. If Liverpool do institute some kind of shared power structure, then Rodgers is allowing himself to be handcuffed, which seems counter-productive for a young manager with big ideas. That's a big if, anyway. To state the obvious, football is not baseball. The system would necessarily have to work differently anyway. M

Posted by SupersSwans on 05/31/2012

Graeme Jones is now favourite! If Martinez was the "architect" who designed Swansealona, then Jones was undoubtably the "engineer" who built it.

Would you agree?

That's a nice take on it. If Jones gets the nod, then I hope you're right! It's not a premium time to be throwing an untested manager into the hot water of the Swans sophomore season... M

Posted by Scott on 05/31/2012

The question of his Rodger's quality is less as important as the ability to attract top talent. Pool have watched players watched and rumored about move to other PL clubs and flourish. Certainly while the players recruited have flopped. They've missed on Silva, Mata, Hazard and similar names who they've tracked and rumored come close to signing. Will Rodgers be able to grab the bright young talent coming from Spanish/Portuguese speaking nations - as these are where the best are currently coming from. With that the ability to remove doubts of choosing a team who season after seas have been getting worse and wasting money, and of course missing out on european football.

I personally think they should have written a blank check to Guardiola after Mourinho resigned with Real. I'm most interested to see what Rodgers does with the youth talent, that really have never had to the chance to succeed

Long past due Pool fans enjoy the honor and glory of Anfield football.

Employing Rodgers does give Liverpool a boss with a great eye for young talent and also the ability to develop it. As you've mentioned, Liverpool have missed out on big name transfers recently - with Rodgers, the strategy might be more to find young players who aren't big news yet, and bring them to Liverpool before other teams cotton on - last season's success with Sigurdsson at Swansea being a great example (a player Liverpool might yet end up with, much to the chagrin of Swansea fans). Of course, Rodgers knew of Sigurdsson from their days together at Reading, and many of the other players he brought to Swansea were from his days as Chelsea youth boss. Whether he can continue to find talent for a bigger team is something we'll have to wait and see. M

Posted by MAC on 05/31/2012

No baseball manager has absolute player buying authority; not since the sport has been organized. That goes to the General Manager and it's not a Moneyball thing. The "gametime" manager is still the boss and has full decision making process on team selection, tactics, etc. (if he doesn't then that's a f'd up situation going on behind closed doors and it exclusive to that club at that time).

Moneyball is not necessarily about shared power structure; it's about evaluating players on smaller tangible qualities that most "old school" managers overlook. It requires a team of scouts and managers to make a decision on un-proven players, so yea the manager wouldn't have full buying power. 've lived in San Francisco for ten years and have watched the Oakland A's employ this method and no manager has ever complained about not getting enough authority. (that said, Moneyball hasn't been very successful for them, despite their manager getting credit for the idea.

I appreciate that; when I refer to Liverpool using a moneyball structure, I am implying that they will look to use a standard baseball team model and then have a moneyball approach within it. I know that in baseball the head coach / manager doesn't have player buying authority, but in many football teams, the head coach / manager does, and I'd just be surprised if Rodgers has agreed to relinquish much of that authority.

You could argue that Liverpool now have to try a moneyball style strategy - to find value in undervalued players - to compensate for the reckless outlay on certain individuals over the past season. Their appointment of a young manager suggests to me they are leaning this way as a proven 'world class' manager of the ilk many Liverpool fans wanted would be unlikely to play along with their transfer hands tied. M

Posted by david williams on 05/31/2012

one point that is being overlooked here is the fact that dalgliesh didn't waste over 100 million as the media likes to say.he recouped nearly 90 million from the sale of players.he moved on 25 players and brought in only 8 drastically reducing the wage bill.

That's a fair point, but for me, the transfer folly of the Dalglish era was not to do with balancing the books - it was that what he got for spending £100 million was incredibly underwhelming.

Throughout his managerial career, Dalglish has proven to be among the better managers in British football. However, the prices he paid for those players has to count as a poor moment. Granted, players like Downing and Carroll might pick it up next season and Henderson might yet develop into a great midfielder, but even if that happens, those players will only just be justifying their price tags. If they don't, they have to be considered flop purchases. It's a lot of pressure on young players and was only created because Dalglish wanted to buy British and selling clubs knew it, and held out for more money.

Put it this way, he might have still sold the players he did and he might have still spent £100 million on new players, but if he'd brought in, say, an Aguero and a Schneijder, Liverpool would be a lot better off. I realise that perhaps these types of players wouldn't have wanted to come to the side for one reason or another - but not being able to attract big name talent does not make it a good idea to buy small name talent for the same money instead.

To be honest with you, if I were FSG I might let Dalglish stay on at least another year - he made those transfers so he apparently believes in those players. I'd have liked to have seen him prove his point by making them play up to their price tag. Plus, we'd still have our manager! M

Posted by AussieLFCFanNickP on 06/01/2012

How is Rodgers at promoting youth? I know Kenny was a big advocate of giving youngsters a go, often playing guys like Flanagan and Robinson in the first team. I know we have players such as Raheem Sterling, Dani Pacheco and Suso as well, who have the potential to be stars. I am concerned that if he gets too focused on our big name players, rather than bleeding youth then these younger players may be inclined to leave. Nick - LFC fan.

I shouldn't worry about that too much - Rodgers was the head of the youth set-up at Chelsea in the past and he's done great things with Swansea's younger players. Neil Taylor, for example, a left back we got from non-league Wrexham, was put into the starting line-up from day one. Over the past season his progress from raw youngster to dynamic two-way full-back was great to watch. He's a prominent first team player now. I'd expect Rodgers magic touch with young players to continue, especially since the transfer kitty might have dried up somewhat at Liverpool since last season. M

Posted by Gregory on 06/01/2012

Liverpool hit the post about 40 times. They created many, many chances that they didn't take, and a lot of that was done playing attractive, pass and move football. Suarez missed 9 games. Gerrard missed the first 3 months or so. Carroll didn't come on until the end of the season. Arguably our best player, Lucas missed the end of the season (We were clearly one of the best teams in the league at that point and it was all downhill from there). We had some controversial penalties called against us. We missed like 7 of 9 penalties ourselves, or something like that.

This was not a terrible team this year, although we probably wouldn't have reached top 4 if most of those things had worked out. This is not the 8th best team in the league even though that's where we finished. I honestly don't think Rodgers is walking into a disaster. We have J. Cole and Aqualani who were on loan this year, but would be more suited for Rodgers' style. Shelvey has shown some potential as well.

It's nice to hear a different (and positive) assessment from a Liverpool fan. If all you say is true, then it seems especially harsh that Dalglish got canned, and all the more likely that Rodgers will make a proper go of it. M

Posted by Henry on 06/01/2012

Let's give Captain Rodger a chance. When Pep was appointed as Barca manager, most smile srcastically. 14 cups in 4 years, even Fergie can only dream about it.
Captain Rodger ? Who knows, a great coach in the making perhaps. Just give me the support.

As disappointed as I am that Rodgers has left, if he's allowed to impose his ideas on the Liverpool squad, then there's a good chance Liverpool are set for some exciting times ahead. I'll enjoy watching the story develop, moreso once the Swans have a good new manager. M

Posted by joe on 06/01/2012

Holloway would be a great pick.

I really like Holloway's character and I've enjoyed his press conferences, but I wonder whether a Holloway Swans would lose the plot defensively. This is a concern because the defence was the biggest reason the Swans stayed safe this year and Blackpool seldom seem robust at the back. M

Posted by Kevin on 06/01/2012

I am in total agreement with your post, It's the others I don't agree with. I guess what I am trying to say in short is that in MLB it's very difficult to win titles if your ideology (and lack of investment) are not up to par. I believe that Rodgers will not be as handcuffed as many think he will be. As you mentioned, Football is not baseball in that with Football, the manager must have input on the style and fit of a player for their system. Baseball is simply take a position and be the best at it.

One thing that I can say about FSG is if you notice their pattern of business on the east coast, they tend to hire great minds, and then let them figure out the best strategies for winning. The main catalyst for Rodgers is that the GM/Director selected has his mindset and philosophy. I think at this point Van Gaal would be a disaster of a hire and I can see him and Rodgers not agreeing on anything. If Rodgers can get a compliment in upper management, he's going to be a smashing success.

Yes, I'd certainly agree with that. I heard that van Gaal was out of the picture now, precisely because he would be an ill fit with Rodgers, who in turn seems well-connected enough to have made a few suggestions of his own. I wonder who it'll be? M

Posted by Alan on 06/01/2012

As a Liverpool fan, I am optimistic that even if Rodgers can't win things at Anfield, at least we will play the kind of technical football last seen under the days of Roy Evans.

However, the pressure at Anfield is like Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge despite the fact we haven't won the league for 22 years. Liverpool fans still expect to win nearly every game and get very agitated when they don't.

Rodgers needs a good start because if he starts badly like Hodgson he will be in a pressure cooker like he has never known before. And inexperienced managers under huge pressure often make poor decisions that cost them their jobs. I hope Rodgers proves otherwise.

Yes, this seems to be the biggest concern for Rodgers - especially the trial by fire which his first three or four games will become. Imagine the scheduling puts a Swansea-Liverpool game as one of those games? Or as the first game of the season even? That would be really interesting. M

Posted by david williams on 06/01/2012

good point regarding what he paid for the three questionable signings.realistically he didn't have a choice because of inflated prices,these precedents were set when united sold ranaldo for 80 million and chelsea paid such high prices along with man city.aguera and players of that ilk cost megabucks and fenway were not prepared to pay those sort of the light of these facts you get what you pay for.who knows they may yet redeem themselves.i am from the old school ,i am 62 years old and have been a liverpool fan all my life,even though i have been here in australia for nearly 40 years.i used to stand on the kop worshipping hunt and st john and later keegan and toshack.although i was in australia when dalgliesh came i still regard him as our best ever player and although they sacked him(which i disagree with) i wish rodgers every success and truly believe he will do us proud,hopefully he will get the best from the players he chooses to keep.

Rodgers appointment should at least bode well for Jordan Henderson. Henderson is the kind of young player Rodgers has a good track record of developing. The same goes for Shelvey and Sterling and the like. What Rodgers does with the veterans will be less predictable, and I wonder if someone like Dirk Kuyt will now stick around after apparently being at odds with Dalglish and wanting out. I don't follow Liverpool as closely as the Swans, but for my money, Kuyt is among the better players I've seen and would be on my first team sheet without fail. M

Posted by Kyle on 06/01/2012

It will be interesting to see what seems almost the certain hire of graeme jones does for transfer targets. Do you feel he will have the same freedom as rodgers did in choosing the players he wants? I feel if they can somehow hang on to siggy and then use the cash from the rodgers deal to sign a defender or two the swans would be in great shape. Finally do you feel this damages the chances of bringing caulker back?

I'm still optimistically holding out for Laudrup or, more realistically, Poyet, but perhaps that's unfair on Jones. I should expect he will be given some freedom - if Jenkins was to hire him, it would be based on first hand experience of his abilities, so I would imagine he would be trusted.

I agree that if the Swans can complete the Siggy deal and add a centre back, they should be ok next season, especially since Jenkins brilliantly included a clause in the Rodgers deal that says he isn't allowed to poach any Swans players for at least 12 months. Caulker's another issue though; I feel like other managers were happy to loan players to Swansea because of Rodgers reputation for developing youngsters. No Rodgers might mean those managers will be less enthusiastic to help out. M

Posted by Gregory on 06/01/2012

To follow up to your response on my previous comment, it might seem a bit harsh to have sacked Dalglish. I think we had some things going for us that could change next year. However, the main problems with KD were the handling of the Suarez-Evra affair (whatever your thoughts on the incident itself) and the fact that his team selection was horrible.

Ok, he made some signings that didn't come off. That happens, but at some point you have to realize it and sit those players. Absolutely no reason Henderson should have the most appearances on the season. Downing wasn't far behind. Players like Kuyt and Maxi produce much more often, but were left on the bench. So even though things look up for next season, there was no reason to believe KD would have actually made the changes necessary to maximize the potential of the team, and for that, he had to go.

I've said in response to another comment here how much I like Dirk Kuyt - it seemed madness to me to see him sit as often as he did, and there's little more frustrating for fans than to see the manager routinely favour under-performing players, so I can understand how Rodgers will represent a breath of fresh air at Liverpool. M

Posted by Gee on 06/01/2012

As a Reading supporter (and I bet you already know what I am going to say) I hope that Gylfi doesn't go to either Swansea or Liverpool. It does appear that the Swans deal is truly dead and its time for Gylfi to come back home! He wants first team football and he won't get that at LFC. There is quite a strong hope among the RFC supporters now and it appears that we have an offer on the table and an announcement is imminent (but I guess after the holiday).

That said how do you think Swans football will get on without Brenden or Gylfi and with the dreaded second season syndrom looming? URZ.

Without Brendan, much will depend on the new boss as you'd expect. If the team stays more-or-less the same and the new boss is of the same tactical school (which according to Huw Jenkins' hiring criteria, will be), then I think the Swans should be ok. Gylfi would be a huge acquisition for us - I'm not going to say the Swans deal is dead just yet! At the back, a proposed continuation of Stephen Caulker's loan from Tottenham looks to be up in the air at the moment. Without Caulker, the Swans will have a harder time than without Gylfi. Centre back has to be a priority for the new manager.

One unexpected possible benefit of Rodgers' exit is that the Swans are now in considerably less danger of being 'found out' next season - because the Swans won't even know how they'll be playing, much less the opposition! M

Posted by feygooner on 06/02/2012

I have to say I really enjoyed reading this blog. Besides what I thought was the somewhat inaccurate depiction of Liverpool rigidly following "moneyball" (the official term is "sabremetrics" I think), it was very well balanced and reasoned, despite Rodger's departure.

Thank you. The 'moneyball' logic was mostly a 'what if' scenario in response to early reports that Liverpool, owned by the group who used sabremetrics to win big with the Boston Red Sox,might be put under a similar scheme. Rodgers made a point of refuting such claims in his press conference yesterday, so it looks like Liverpool will continue to be run as a 'normal' football club, at least officially, which bodes very well for Rodgers.

Indeed, it is hard to apply sabremetrics to football, given the comparative absence of reliable statistics, but proper statistical analysis is growing in the sport. In five to ten years or so I expect the football version of sabremetrics - described as econometrics instead - will be a decisive factor in how most big clubs operate. M

Posted by Paurakh Joshi on 06/02/2012

Brendan to Kop. Most people might say that he is the one who will finally take Liverpool where they belong to, but I think it is the same old story. Hodgson and King Kenny both vowed about that, but did it happen? All of know the answer. It is a big "no".
The problem with Liverpool were never the mangers. Like with AVB at Chelsea the problem at Liverpool is also the players they have. Unlike AVB who had to deal with egos of the players, the problem with Liverpool has been the performance. Apart from Reina, all the other Liverpool players have failed to perform at their best in the recent seasons. So, actual problem with Kop is them. Senior players like Gerrad, Carra, Skertel, Johnson all have not performed. Hodgson came in and applied his tactics, they didn't perform. Dalgish came in even then they didn't perform.
They are senior players and fan favs, so the mangers will not have the guts to drop them even if they are not preforming.
So, I doubt that Rodgers can do any good.

That's a pessimistic point of view, but similar situations have been seen before, and you are right in identifying that if the problem is with the players, a new manager isn't going to change much.

At Swansea, Rodgers' took over a team more-or-less free of ego. Swansea's transfer policy has often been to identify cast-off players from other organisations and give them another chance - you only need to look at the previously spotty careers of Scott Sinclair and Wayne Routledge for evidence of this. As a result, many of the players seem to be happy to have found a home at last - and being a small club, there hasn't been the media coverage necessary for the players to start believing their own hype.

So Rodgers won't be used to handling players who routinely get strong media coverage, who have, in some cases, world class reputations and in all cases the weight of expectation of Liverpool's demanding fans on their shoulders. Rodgers is a superb man-manager, however, and if the players can give him a chance, he might yet be able to coax good performances out of them.

One thing that might work in his favour is that the players must realise that after three recent changes in manager and the firing of certain top-level executives, FSG will be looking to establish some stability in the executive positions at Liverpool. Which means the next people to go if things don't work out will be the players themselves. Knowing that might just give them the motivation they need. M

Posted by AnArsenalFan on 06/02/2012

Liverpool, I think, are mostly betting on Rodgers getting the most out of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, and Jordan Henderson. They seem the type of players he can work with.

If that's the case, then you're right- Rodgers might have little input in any future buying decisions and his job may very well be the extraction of value from the expensive players Pool bought last year through the sorts of tactics he used successfully at Swansea.

For example, Charlie Adam may do the Joe Allen role quite well, while Jordan Henderson might slot into the Leon Britton spot.

This might seem the opposite of what most people would expect, but actually I think Adam is more similar to Allen in the sense that they both play long balls, while Henderson has actually shown potential to be a bit of a tick-tock passer in midfield.

That's an interesting comparison; I've felt that Liverpool don't really have anyone who could play the Britton role - Liverpool have the passers, but Britton's ball-thievery, coolness under pressure and ability to take passes and accurately distribute them even whilst closely marked are special qualities. Perhaps Lucas Leiva would be the best candidate? Henderson could certainly emulate the deep lying playmaker part of his game though.

As for Adam, I'd see Mark Gower as a more apt comparison - both are dead ball specialists with an eye for a long pass and limited pace! Joe Allen is developing a real engine as a box to box type, which puts him beyond the physical capability of Adam. Going back to Henderson, maybe he could be nurtured in that type of role?

Meanwhile, Rodgers has certainly made use of wide men at Swansea; Scott Sinclair gets a lot of plaudits whilst for me, his counterpart on the right wing Nathan Dyer is one of the most under-rated players in the the division. Downing could easily slot into that type of role, and it wouldn't surprise me if we saw a return to his Villa days, where he was frankly a different player.

I think there's little doubt that Rodgers ability to extract good performances out of players factored into FSG's appointment. However, as I've said elsewhere, whilst his work with younger players is second to none, I wonder how well he'll deal with the older, established vets at Liverpool... or how well they'll deal with him, more to the point. M

Posted by Andy on 06/03/2012

I think Rogers will be given time by the fans. They are well aware of the passing game that Swansea play and will want to see if he can develop the potential of Kelly, Carroll, Henderson and Sterling. Also Reina needs a confidence boost to get his form back and I think most of believe Rogers can deliver here as well. Older players like Gerrard who will decline in a season or two and Carragher who is definitely in decline will need to be replaced. Agger certainly fits the bill for one and Sigurdsson looks a good bet for the other, but I'd be surprised if Liverpool do really make a move for him. I think this is mostly transfer-by-media due to the obvious link. I doubt Rogers will get much say in the transfer market so I question the foregone conclusion on that one.

I hope you're right regarding Sigurdsson! I agree that Rodgers ought to be able to get the younger players in good shape, and as a Swans fan, I'm hoping he'll be able to send one or two our way on loan. He's alluded to this in the press, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.M

Posted by nico on 06/04/2012

i personally feel that all these issues were brought up by the student of the game brendan rodgers himself. and i believe amicable solutions to the various scenarios that will play out have been tackled.
i highly doubt FSG will treat Brendan Rodgers the same way they ditched kenny daglish(who kept changing systems, had seemed clever at beginning of season to almost clueless by the end.)
brendan will do well, he will get time with the squad, and FSG will back their man.

I have a feeling it will work out for Rodgers at Liverpool, but I guess only time will tell. M

Posted by Neil K on 06/04/2012

Option for Brendan Rodgers in his preferred formation without signings:


Downing/Bellamy Suarez/Suso Sterling/Maxi

Lucas/Adam Gerrard/Henderson

Enrique/Robinson Johnson/Kelly
Agger/Wilson Skrtel/Coates


Looks good! M

Posted by LD on 06/16/2012

Congrats on getting Laudrup! Maybe one of the Swans higher-ups reads your blog.

Ha. I'd like to think they do... (if so, I will gladly run some numbers for the Swans, and the access to better stats and some dvds too would be fantastic). Seriously though, I couldn't be happier that Laudrup got the job. He was always the best choice.I can't wait to see how he evaluates the team and how things develop under his leadership. M

Posted by Kyle on 07/06/2012

When is the next post coming? (really enjoy your insite) Do you think de guzman would be a good replacement for siggy? If we get him as rumors have it. Hope to hear from ya soon!

Hi! I have been taking a small break whilst the world football eye was turned away from club football, but I shall be back with a new post very soon, where I'll talk a bit about De Guzman, Laudrup and a few other things... Thanks for the enthusiasm! M

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