Rodgers to build on the lessons of his club's tragic history

 

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The Independent Online

Hillsborough seriously damaged Kenny Dalglish but it might be the making of Brendan Rodgers, his successor as Liverpool manager.

From the moment Dalglish walked over to the Leppings Lane End, looking for his son, Paul, who had been among the crowd at the FA Cup semi-final in April 1989, to the moment he resigned in the bleak February of 1991, it cast its shadow.

Dalglish attended every funeral and campaigned to the limits of his strength for the victims, even addressing the prisoners at Walton Jail to assure them that The Sun's infamous front page "The Truth" was a lie. However, it is almost certain that, without Hillsborough, he might not have been gripped by the need to walk away from Anfield.

Rodgers is 39, a year older than Dalglish was then. His feelings when he attended the vigil at St George's Plateau, where his predecessor read out the names of the dead, were remarkably similar to those that overtook Dalglish at the height of the tragedy.

Every day Dalglish would go the Kop and look at the banks of flowers and scarves that washed over the old terrace, which he described as: "The saddest and most beautiful sight I have seen."

The only sound was often that of the breeze rustling the cellophane in which the flowers were wrapped.

Sometimes, he would break down: "I realised I had miscalculated the importance of the club to the people," he said later. "I never fully appreciated the part we played in their lives."

Yesterday, as the city took in the scale of its betrayal by those in authority, Rodgers expressed remarkably similar feelings. It may be the slogan of Barcelona but Liverpool is more than a club.

"It is a way of life," he said. "You carry a city and a people's hopes here and I also think that the club has to look for certain types of managers. That is something that is either inherent in you or it is not.

"After meeting some of the families of the victims last night, I drove away feeling a greater responsibility to these people. I immerse myself in the culture of the place and the history of the club because, until you are here, you don't really understand it.

"Everyone knows it is one of the biggest clubs in the world but, until you are actually in it, you don't really sense the magnitude of it. I enjoy carrying the hopes of people, and events like last night really fill you with pride but also give you an understanding of the great responsibility you have."

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