Rodgers imposes early authority at Liverpool
New manager reveals he won first battle at the club by blocking owners' plan for a director of football
Liverpool's new manager Brendan Rodgers revealed yesterday how he had told the club's American owners that they were welcome to hire a sporting director but would not be recruiting him if they did so.
Rodgers, who has said that he already has specific transfer targets in mind, said he believed that third parties seeking to advise Fenway Sports Group had promoted the idea of a director, conflicting with his own need for "control". "I didn't want to be sat up there [in a press conference room], say what I've said and then in three weeks time Louis Van Gaal walks in the door, it does not work," said Rodgers, who sought reassurances on the issue on three separate occasions during his recruitment.
"It's not that I can't work with a sporting director, I'm open to the idea but I would obviously have to take stock. I feel that if you are going to do that as a club you have to do that first. That was my recommendation. If you want to have a sporting director, get him in and then you can pick your manager from there. But if you do I won't be the manager."
Liverpool also initially felt that the recruitment should come in that order, though managing director Ian Ayre confirmed yesterday there would be no pursuit of a director. An administrator and leader of the scouting set-up are being sought. Rodgers insisted that his working relationship with Frank Arnesen at Chelsea, whilst youth and reserve team manager, proved he could be collegiate. He said that a club's structure should include four or five people constituting a "little technical board" to discuss recruitment, sports science and other issues.
"I wanted to make sure that... I would be in charge of football matters," Rodgers revealed. "That I would control the team, control the work. I need to feel that I can manage it in terms of the team and I have a direct clear line through to the owners. Once that becomes hazed and grey, for me there is a problem."
Rodgers eventually said that a clause preventing him returning to Swansea to sign players was "in the contract, yes" – though he had earlier twice ducked the question. That would not prevent him trying to buy Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has not agreed personal terms with Swansea.
Though Liverpool must work to avoid falling short of the financial losses permissible under Uefa's first Financial Fair Play monitoring period, the club also said they did not need to sell to buy. A budget of around £30m is expected to be at Rodgers' disposal.
Captain Steven Gerrard said of Rodgers: "I'm very excited. As a player you don't like to see changes in managers. You want continuity. Hopefully he can progress the team and move us forward and stay for a long time. I've been kept in the loop all along by the board and the owners, and he was first-choice. So take no notice of [Wigan owner] Dave Whelan."
Rodgers delivered a bold vision. "For me first and foremost it's to defend the principles of this great club, which is about offensive, creative football but with tactical discipline, and to retain the values of this club. The attraction is also the frustration that is around Liverpool in terms of where they want to be."
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