Just over a week ago Dave Whelan was busy telling anybody who’d listen that Roberto Martinez had been offered the chance to manage Liverpool and the bookmakers had stop taking bets such was the certainty that Martinez would be moving into the Anfield hot seat.
Yet in spite of this we find Brendan Rodgers taking residency on Merseyside, and in my opinion this choice leaves Liverpool better placed for the future.
There’s clear comparisons between the two men; both are yet to have reached their 40th birthday and share a similar footballing philosophy of playing a brave brand of free flowing football whatever the opposition. A philosophy you can expect Rodgers to bring to Anfield, demonstrated by Dirk Kuyt leaving the club for a relatively measly £1 million presumably because he does not suit Rodgers’ way of playing the game.
While Martinez has undoubtedly revolutionised Wigan’s playing style since the days of Steve Bruce it has difficult to argue that he has made the Lactics more competitive. During Martinez’s reign success has meant simply avoiding relegation while under Bruce Wigan were in danger of establishing themselves as a mid-table side after an 11th place finish. Contrastingly Rodgers has taken Swansea from the Championship to a comfortable mid-table finish in England’s top division.
A further disadvantage Martinez would have faced if given the Anfield reins would have been his lack of experience working amid a culture of expectation and a huge pressure to win. Martinez has spent his entire playing and Managerial career working at relatively small clubs where the pressure to win is minute in comparison to the success demanded by Liverpool’s history and Stature, and it is impossible to know how the Spaniard would react to such a dramatic change in expectation levels.
While his level of personal culpability would obviously be dramatically higher Rodgers does at least have experience of working at club where a winning culture was prevalent at every level. The Liverpool manager was a coach during the successful Mourinho era at Chelsea allowing him an insight to the effects of the pressure and expectation of working at a big club and also how a top class manager deals with this reality on a daily basis. Rodgers’ eagerness to learn during his time in the Mourinho regime is demonstrated by a quote in The Independent from The Special One,
“I like everything in him. He is ambitious and does not see football very differently from myself. He is open, likes to learn and likes to communicate.”
Hopefully for Liverpool he will have learnt enough to bring the success back to Anfield.
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