Friday 17 January 2020

How Rodgers beat Van Gaal to take the job at Anfield

Liverpool appointed Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool ahead of Louis Van Gaal. John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Liverpool appointed Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool ahead of Louis Van Gaal. John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

Not for the first time Brendan Rodgers stands in the way of Louis van Gaal and Liverpool when the pair meet in Miami tonight.

When Fenway Sports Group hunted a successor for Kenny Dalglish two years ago, the Dutchman was a candidate. He was one of several coaches who met chief executive Ian Ayre and fancied the manager's job.

Liverpool had a different role in mind for Van Gaal, as a director of football to aid a younger man on the training field.

By the time Rodgers had emerged as the main candidate for the Anfield job, Van Gaal showed little interest in being a mentor and the Northern Irishman felt that his apprenticeship days were over.

There would be no compromise, and although Rodgers insists he was never asked directly to work under the Manchester United manager, he made it clear from the outset that there could be only one man in charge of the coaching operations.

From the moment Liverpool chose Rodgers, the Van Gaal interest was over.

No doubt that feeling was mutual, Van Gaal showing no appetite for a role 'upstairs', but Liverpool's first meeting with United since the Dutchman's appointment is nevertheless an opportunity for the Merseyside club to compare what they have to what they overlooked.

"It was obviously something before I came in," said Rodgers as he recalled the appointment process of 2012.

"I'm not sure how many people the club spoke to. But for me coming in, I was always going to work with a team of people, rather than a director of football.

"I always think the manager is the technical director. He is the man who oversees the football development of the club, and I believe you should take on that responsibility when you are manager.

"I work best whenever I have clear communication lines with owners. My only failure – if you can call it that – was when I had something in-between at Reading, which was when I had a director of football.

"One of my strengths is to communicate upwards, and if I can't do that, or if the message is diluted, then I don't work the same, and for me it was important that when I came in at Liverpool I didn't want those lines blocked.

"It's not that I can never work with one. But I felt it was important, with all the work that needed to be done, that I needed to have the full responsibility in order to do that job. And I think the owners backed that."

Rodgers says he has never met Van Gaal, but there is an obvious influence that has filtered from the Dutchman through to Jose Mourinho and the Liverpool manager – a coaching blueprint linking them all.

"He's a very experienced manager, a very good manager and he's gone into them, and he'll make his mark," Rodgers said of Van Gaal.

"I've never met him before, but obviously I know of him through Jose, and I know he was very instrumental in mentoring Jose at Barcelona. I'm aware of the methods, I'm aware of how he works, and obviously he's had a very good career.


"We played a variety of systems last season that went well for us, and Louis has come in and adopted the 3-5-2. He obviously had success at the World Cup with that, and is looking to roll it out at Manchester United, so yeah, it's not what you call two standard systems or two standard coaches, it's two coaches who are thinkers about the game.

"Obviously he has far greater experience than I have, and been around for so many years. But I have learned from the best, and that is what I have always done."

Liverpool flew to Miami directly after their 2-0 victory over AC Milan in front of a 70,000 crowd at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, where they won through goals from Joe Allen and Suso.

Allen's goal came after just 17 minutes, when he fired home the rebound after hitting a post with his initial effort.

They should have doubled their advantage when Raheem Sterling was fouled in the penalty area by Adil Rami, but the normally reliable spot-kick taker Rickie Lambert had his effort saved by Christian Abbiati.

However, Suso made sure of the win when he applied the finishing touch to a cross from Philippe Coutinho.

Striker Daniel Sturridge has returned to England to receive treatment on a hamstring injury.

"He has flown back to the UK because he was not going to be ready for Monday," Rodgers said. "He had a slight feeling in his hamstring but he will be back for the Dortmund game."

Asked if Sturridge's injury underlined the importance of adding a striker, Rodgers said: "Yes. It's crucial for us." (© Daily Telegraph)

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