LONDON: New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said he has worries about following club icon Kenny Dalglish at Anfield but hopes one day his own achievements will put him alongside the likes of the Scot, Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.
The 39-year-old was speaking after being confirmed as the man owners Fenway Sports Group hope will deliver their vision to restore the Reds’ former glories. Dalglish’s sacking just over a fortnight ago after FSG decided an eighth-placed finish – 17 points adrift of the top four – left his predecessor in a seemingly unenviable position following in the footsteps of ‘King Kenny’.
But Rodgers, as demonstrated in his handling of negotiations with the Americans when he initially turned them down and then told them in interview he would not work with a director of football, is his own man.
He said: “I will never replace Kenny Dalglish, that is the reality. I have so much respect for him. This is a guy who was voted the best player in the history of the club, a legend of a manager here and a fantastic man. There is not a race for me. It’s a race I am sure I would lose. I can only be Brendan Rodgers and do the very best I can for the football club.
“What I want to do, is prove my worth, honesty and commitment to Liverpool. History judges you as the manager, that is the reality. I hope my history here will allow me to walk beside many of the great managers.”
Rodgers was initially approached two weeks ago but refused to entertain the idea of being just another number in a long line of potential candidates FSG were sounding out. He insisted he was not worried by his rejection of the Reds’ advances and his confidence in his own ability bore fruit when they returned a second time with a much more positive message.
It was an approach he admitted he would have been foolish to turn down.
“I just moved on straight from it,” he said of Liverpool’s initial approach. “I was very clear when the chairman (Huw Jenkins) rang me and said he had an offer from them asking to speak. I said: ‘Did they say I was the No1 target?’ and he said ‘No, they just want to speak to you’. I said ‘Fine. I have no reason to be in a process if I’m not the No1 candidate’.
“I didn’t want to disrespect the values of Liverpool and I didn’t want to disrespect Swansea, I just wanted to continue my work. But then when Liverpool come calling a second time you need to be a brave man to turn it down. I am brave in what I do and what I play but for me when they came back and said I was the number one target I would have walked here.
“Huw has known all along of other club’s interest in me and he always knew my commitment to Swansea but he knew one day I would go to a big club because it was something which was an ambition. When I spoke to him about it he encouraged me to speak to them because he followed Liverpool coming through his life so he understands as much as anyone the size and magnitude of Liverpool.
“It was a difficult decision because of the relationship and people at Swansea but from a professional and football challenge it was going to be a great move.”
Even then it was not a job Rodgers was going to take at all costs. Plenty of speculation about a new director of football being lined up – with abrasive Dutchman Louis van Gaal hotly-tipped – meant he went into the discussions with a clear idea of what he wanted.
“I made it clear to them, saying ‘I respect you have asked me to do the job but I need clarity on one issue’. I am very much my own man with my own ideas. The clubs which have been successful in my short career are the ones where I have had a direct line to the top.
“When I didn’t have that I had issues so it was clear for me if Liverpool wanted me to be manager it would be a huge privilege but I could only do that if I was the manager. What we do then is we get a support team around that – every team has a head of recruitment, head of medicine, head of performance – and then the manager manages that and you trust people to get on with their job.”
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