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THE start of the new season may still be more than seven weeks away, but for Brendan Rodgers the hours are already beginning to pile up.
Technically, Rodgers has spent his first fortnight as Liverpool manager on holiday with his family in Spain. Quite how much they have seen of him, though, is another matter.
The weather may have been much brighter than on Merseyside this week, but the Ulsterman’s break was largely spent making phonecalls, reading reports and watching DVDs of players. Relaxation is a luxury most top-level football managers can ill-afford, even in the close-season.
“It has certainly been busy,” smiled the new Reds boss upon his return to the UK. “Obviously after my press conference I had a planned holiday. But since I’ve been back (to Merseyside) it has been great.
“It has been wonderful meeting up with the staff and the people involved with the club. I’m just getting a feel for things at the moment, but it has been great.”
Rodgers intends to move his wife and two children to Merseyside next week, and plans to “throw himself” into the local community. He is currently combining the task of house-hunting with the demands of plotting his Liverpool masterplan.
That masterplan is, slowly but surely, taking shape. Having brought with him three influential members of his Swansea City backroom staff (deals for Colin Pascoe, Glen Driscoll and Chris Davies should be confirmed soon) Rodgers has this week overseen a significant restructuring of the club’s scouting setup.
Liverpool are expected to announce the arrival of Dave Fallows from Manchester City imminently. Fallows is likely to be appointed as Head of Recruitment at Anfield, bringing with him at least two of his City scouting team.
“The template I will put down will be about organisation, on and off the field,” explains Rodgers. “What we are trying to do is organise the club so there is a ‘one-club’ mentality and one shared vision going forwards.
“It’s a challenge, but that is why I came. The size of the club doesn’t daunt me. This is one of the biggest clubs in the world, but I feel comfortable and at ease here.
“I’ve been afforded an incredible welcome by the staff and the people of Liverpool. But I understand it’s a new cycle beginning and there is a hell of a lot of work to do.
“That is the reality of it. It is a process, and you have to put your head down and work hard.
“This is an iconic club, renowned worldwide, with supporters who are renowned worldwide. Hopefully, over time, with our actions on the pitch and our dedication off it, we can make them proud of their club.”
Rodgers has managed to find time to catch “a fair bit” of Euro 2012 over the past week, but admits Liverpool’s vast network of scouts are keeping him informed on the bits he has missed.
Adding to, and improving upon, a squad which finished last season 8th in the Premier League is high on his list of priorities.
But while the rumour mill goes into overdrive, linking Liverpool with every player to have ever laced up a pair of boots, Rodgers insists the club will keep their cards close to their chest this summer.
“I like to very much keep my counsel on potential targets,” he says. “The problem with a club like Liverpool is they get linked with every player going. It looks like, with every player linked plus the players we’ve already got, we’re going to have five or six teams next year!
“That’s the way of the world these days. Every player wants to play for Liverpool. The magnitude, the size and the history of the club, and the quality of the people here in the city, means people will want to come and play here.
“The problem is, everyone can’t.
“I think there are a few players who can come in and improve the group straight away.
“I know the types of player I need to bring here to make us function well and that’s something myself, the club and the board will look at.
“I know what we’ve got, more or less, in the squad, but I also know there are a couple of signings that could really improve what we do.
“That’s something we’ll work together on over the course of the summer and hopefully we can get one or two in.”
One player who has been persistently linked is Hoffenheim midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. Rodgers is close to the Iceland international, having worked with him at Reading and during a loan spell with Swansea last season, and admits he would like to speak to the Hoffenheim man, should an opportunity arise.
“First and foremost, Gylfi is a Hoffenheim player,” he added.
“I took him on loan for the second half of last season and he did very, very well. He scored seven goals and made a real, positive contribution.
“I wanted to sign him for Swansea but, like I’ve said to him and his representatives, that has to be his first port of call.
“If he comes onto the market for whatever reason – and I’m sure there’ll be a number of clubs interested in Gylfi - then of course I would like to be in a position to put our case here at Liverpool to sign him.
“But I’ve always said, I think he’s a player Swansea have had an agreement with and they have to have every chance to try and sign him. That’s only right.
“If anything changes from that, we’ll look at it from there.”
Another player facing an uncertain future this summer is Joe Cole.
The former England international spent last season on loan with French side Lille, but is due to return to Melwood for pre-season training next month, and is eager to re-start his Reds career.
Rodgers met with the 30-year-old during his Spanish vacation, and knows Cole well from his days coaching at Chelsea. He insists that everybody will be given a chance to impress in pre-season.
“I certainly know he’s looking to come back,” he added. “But I’ve got to assess all the players.
“With the likes of Joe – he’s a very talented player. He’s obviously gone out to Lille and done very well and he has the opportunity to come back here and show his qualities.
“For me it’s fresh for everyone. Of course I know lots of the players and their qualities but Joe is obviously a player who’ll want to come back and show his worth to the group.
“There are a lot of players I’m aware of and they wouldn’t be at Liverpool if they didn’t have the qualities.
“I suppose going forward and over the course of pre-season I just need to decide the types of players who are going to fit into the function and the philosophy and the structure of the team.
“When a new manager comes into any club, it always sparks off that renewed motivation for players.
“The cycle with Kenny (Dalglish) was a terrific cycle but I’m a different tactician and a different type of person and that will give all the players an opportunity to perform.”