Rodgers will build on the lessons of Liverpool's tragic past

This club is a way of life claims manager after meeting Hillsborough relatives

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. The more I am up here, the more 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."

Rodgers' first responsibility is, to quote the inscription on the statue of Bill Shankly beneath The Kop, "To Make the People Happy". This he can only do by winning, just as Dalglish's side won the FA Cup a month after the cursed semi-final in Sheffield.

When news of the disaster trickled through to Highbury, where Nick Hornby was standing on the North Bank, watching Arsenal grind out a 1-0 win over Newcastle that would eventually help make them champions at Liverpool's expense, the author of Fever Pitch remarked to his mate: "Football will go on – even that game will be replayed."

Tomorrow, Rodgers' Liverpool, a club with a single point to its name this season, go to Sunderland. Football goes on and it is not a given that now justice for the 96 has been dispensed Liverpool will suddenly flourish on the pitch.

It would have been fitting had Dalglish's side beaten Arsenal to win the Double in 1989; instead they lost to the final shot of the season. The emotion of Old Trafford marking the 50th anniversary of the Munich disaster was followed by an insipid defeat in the Manchester derby.

Nevertheless, as he drove away from the city centre, Rodgers confessed to a feeling that football; even in Liverpool or perhaps especially in Liverpool, should be given a sense of perspective. It is not, as it was in Shankly's quip, more important than life or death.

"Family is the most important thing in life," he said. "Your family and your health. Football is wonderful. It has given us a wonderful life, you as reporters, me as a professional. I love every minute of being a manager but life is more important. What football can give those people – the families of the victims and the survivors – is hope."

Rodgers had two principal thoughts as he left the vigil. One was that 41 supporters might have survived had ambulances been allowed into the stadium. The other lesson of Hillsborough is that perseverance, often against the cruellest odds, can succeed.

"Perseverance and persistence; these are the biggest things you can have in life," he said. "The Hillsborough families were a group who fought for 23 years. Can you imagine their journey? But they kept fighting. That desire, that will, that perseverance; those were the great words that kept flashing back to me when I was driving home.

"I am not sure it is right to talk about closure. I think the fight goes on for the rest of your life. You don't really get justice because you never get your father, sister or brother back but you fight for the cause and the cause was a simple one.

"It was the name of the people of Liverpool that had been damned for all these years. There is no doubting that some people on the outside would have believed the propaganda so it was great for these people to proclaim the message worldwide that we were right all along."

* John W Henry, the principal owner of Liverpool, has denied reports in America that Fenway Sports Group plan to sell the Boston Red Sox for around $1bn (£600m).

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn