Could Brendan Rodgers really make the move to Manchester United? The story has been gathering pace in the last few days amid Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s desperate struggles at Old Trafford.
The Leicester City manager may well be one of the most impressive tacticians in the game after doing fine work in his current role at the King Power Stadium, winning the FA Cup final last season to follow on from the silverware he picked up in his stint as Celtic manager.
Before that, however, Rodgers was manager of Man Utd‘s biggest rivals Liverpool, and there’s every chance he’ll upset both sets of fans if he ends up taking charge of the Red Devils.
Is it acceptable for a former Liverpool manager to take their seat in the Old Trafford dugout? We spoke to writers and bloggers from both clubs to get their insight on what the move would mean, and if the Northern Irish tactician is even good enough for a big six job anyway.
“It would tarnish those memories”
Farrell Keeling of Liverpool FC blog Empire of the Kop is certainly not keen on the idea, telling CaughtOffside: “Personally, I’d feel very disappointed to see him make the switch to Old Trafford having spent a significant amount of time in Merseyside.
“I think Empire of the Kop posed a similar question to fans on social media and the response was surprisingly (in my eyes) mixed, with some pointing out how huge an opportunity it would represent to Rodgers.
“As far as I’m concerned – and I’m sure I’m not alone here – no Liverpool manager should ever make the move to Manchester.
“Particularly for Brendan, considering how close he took Liverpool to the title in the 2013/14 campaign (a season I still cherish for its sheer nail-biting enjoyment), I think it would tarnish those memories somewhat.”
Adam Brown of The Red Men offers a slightly different perspective, saying: “I think some fans would hate to see it, but others would maintain a level of respect. Something would have to happen between the two clubs after his appointment for the mood to change around Anfield.
“When Rafael Benitez joined Chelsea we still had that respect for him – there’s a level of loyalty with Liverpool fans that isn’t seen at other clubs.”
What do United fans make of it? Arvin Amin of MUFC blog Stretty News says he can imagine it might mean the Old Trafford crowd would turn against him more quickly than with other managers if things started to go wrong.
“The prospect of a former Liverpool manager taking charge at United is hardly something fans have been pining for but his failure at Liverpool, paired with that horrible slip in the title race, does sweeten the deal!” Arvin says. “Of course, he would be up against it from the first day and the modern-day supporter would be quick to use his Liverpool past against him when results aren’t going his way.
“But I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker in terms of the relationship he would have with the supporters – at least not for a start.”
“He’s a damn good coach. Comparable to the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola? No.”
“There is a big difference between managing Leicester and Manchester United,” Arvin insists. “Rodgers is still unproven at the very highest level and that’s probably the one reservation all supporters have on the football side of things.”
This may be where our United and Liverpool bloggers find they’re more in agreement – Rodgers is just not quite in that elite category of coaches, which is why there’s unsurprisingly no regrets from LFC fans that they got rid of him and upgraded with Jurgen Klopp when the opportunity came along.
“He’s a damn good coach,” says Farrell. “Comparable to the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola? No.
“Give Rodgers a good squad with potential and he’ll make it sing for you on the pitch but I’m not as convinced by his ability to squeeze the most out of less gifted players; what Klopp managed to do with the squad left over by his predecessor is certainly proof of that.
“Sadly, I think Rodgers lets himself down somewhat when it comes to crunch time in the season – a trait that will hardly appeal to the biggest outfits in the league.
“We can chalk up the title collapse in 2013/14 to inexperience, but questions have to be raised regarding Leicester City’s failure to secure top four despite being three points ahead of Liverpool with two games to go.
A question for Man United fans:
Would you take Brendan Rodgers as manager at Man United?
— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) November 10, 2021
“There’s a crazy stat that was doing the rounds before summer kicked in, which some fans may remember: Leicester had spent 567 days in the top four across the prior two seasons but still finished fifth in both.”
“Rodgers left at a difficult time with Liverpool losing both Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, and the 6-1 defeat against Stoke to finish off the previous season probably didn’t help either,” Adam says. “With Klopp being proven world-class calibre and also a perfect fit for FSG’s model of developing players and being smart in the transfer market, it was too good to pass up the opportunity – and the challenge for Rodgers to turn it around was probably too big given the circumstances.”
Given the mini-crisis unfolding at United at the moment, could this be too a big a challenge for Rodgers too?
“I’m disappointed and surprised to see how United have unravelled under Solskjaer this season but I maintain that his replacement should be the best in class,” Arvin says. “Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are all top-of-the-line managers and there’s no reason Manchester United shouldn’t be matching that ambition with their next appointment.
“Solskjaer was a romantic acquisition and everyone was hoping it would work out but sadly, it hasn’t. Rodgers would be in keeping with the club’s hierarchy of long-term planning but it also points towards an out-of-touch perspective on football. They have missed out on all three aforementioned managers in the past due to this approach and I don’t think they can risk making the same mistake with the next manager. If they do, they are in danger of being left behind further.”
Solskjaer or Rodgers? #mufc
— The United Stand (@UnitedStandMUFC) November 11, 2021
“He deserves to manage one of the bigger teams”
Despite there being some doubts about Rodgers taking over at United, the consensus is he’s done a good job at Leicester and will surely get a big six job at some point.
“I think Rodgers has done a great job at Leicester City,” Adam says. “Without the biggest budget or best squad, he’s won them a trophy and has been unlucky to miss out on the top four on the final day of the season in back-to-back campaigns.”
“He’s done a good job with the Foxes,” Farrell says. “Ultimately, if you look at the points tallies after he replaced Claude Puel, the improvement is there for all to see in black and white: 66 points last term, with 68 goals scored and 50 conceded and an FA Cup win to boot – the club’s best season since the Premier League-winning campaign of 2015/16.
“Had a manager of Jurgen Klopp’s calibre not been available at that time, I’d imagine our owners may have been inclined to give Rodgers the remainder of the season to prove his credentials.”
“Rodgers has done exceptionally well with Leicester since he took over in 2019,” Arvin adds. “Claude Puel left a side devoid of imagination behind him and they were quickly turned into the top six’s worst nightmare. Amid the growing gap in revenue, he managed to break that barrier between England’s superpower clubs. Consecutive fifth-placed finishes speak for themselves and a promotion to a bigger club is deserved.”
All in all, despite the mix of opinions in this piece, it seems pretty clear that a consensus of some kind has emerged: Brendan Rodgers is the manager who’s good enough for every big six club except the one you support.
Can he escape his reputation as one of the best of the rest? We may soon find out.