Thursday 29 September 2016

Daniel Agger tells of best and worst managers he played under at Anfield

Tom Rooney

Published 20/07/2016 | 15:24

Daniel Agger and Roy Hodgson
Daniel Agger and Roy Hodgson

Of the quartet of managers he played under during his eight years at Liverpool, Daniel Agger has said that the recently departed England boss Roy Hodgson was the least impressive, while Rafa Benitez proved to be consistently inspiring and incisive.

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Agger, who announced his retirement from football last month aged just 31, was singed by the Reds from Danish club Brondby in January 2006, and went on to make 232 appearances. Indeed, he would return for a spell at the latter before hanging up his boots.

While at Anfield, he helped Liverpool in winning the Community Shield and League Cup, before departing amid an acrimonious relationship with Brendan Rodgers.

When Rafa Benitez was dismissed by Liverpool after a seventh place finish in the league at the end of the 2009-10 campaign, Hodgson was drafted in by the Anfield hierarchy to a largely mixed reception from club’s faithful.

Hodgson lasted just five months at the helm before being replaced by club legend Kenny Daglish, and Agger has revealed that his methods on the training paddock were nigh on soporific.

He recalled a number of odd sessions apparently employed to aid Fernando Torres in rediscovering his scoring touch, but only resulted in him and Martin Skrtel being rendered exhausted.

“Often we had eight forwards playing against me and Martin Skrtel.

“Skrtel and I had a really hard training session as we were defending against eight with two but the eight players attacking were just faffing around. They had hardly run a kilometre and it was so uninspiring.”

Conversely, he was effusive in his praise of Benitez, the now Newcastle manager, citing his ingenuity and ability to improvise in the heat of the moment. Agger recalled how the Spaniard turned the tide at the Nou Camp in 2007 as Liverpool recorded a famous Champions League victory over Barcelona.

“He was, without a doubt, the best tactician I have played for,” added Agger. “He could change formation and tactics three times in one game.

“We practised his different systems so we knew what to do in different ones. I also remember when we went 1-0 down against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Benítez was there (pushing his hands downwards as to say ‘stay calm’).

“A few of us panicked a little bit and thought we’d get our arses kicked but he was ice cool. He just stood there on the side-lines and said: take it easy, carry on doing what you are doing , and in the end, we won 2-1.”

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