NEW Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed it took three offers before he agreed to join the Reds – after refusing to work under a sporting director.
The 39-year-old successor to Kenny Dalglish spelled out his beliefs during negotiations on how to manage a club – and made it clear he would not want Louis van Gaal as the next appointment at Anfield.
Fenway Sports Group, the Reds’ American owners, are in the process of implementing a new management structure but such a framework will no longer include someone in a position of authority directly above Rodgers in the chain of command.
Rodgers, the club’s number one target, insisted on having complete control of all footballing matters at Liverpool. And though FSG say they were never steadfast in their desire for a sporting director, the ex Swansea City manager fought hard to accept the job on his terms.
Former Barcelona and Ajax coach Van Gaal had been heavily linked with taking a role upstairs at Anfield but Rodgers, in discussions with principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner, said he would be unwilling to take over from Dalglish if the Dutchman, or anyone else, was given the role.
The Reds’ new boss insists he is not a “power freak” but says, such a structure must already be in place before you appoint a new manager. Not the other way round.
Referring to the reaction after the dismissal of Kenny Dalglish and ‘phone calls’ that ensued, he added: “Among those mi llion phone calls are people who want to come in and tell them how to do things.
“The one thing I have recognised by talking to these people here is a real honesty. They have probably spoken to one or two people about certain roles but I wanted clarity on it and I didn’t agree until after three times.
“I wanted to make sure that was going to be the case, that I would be in charge of football matters; that I would control the team, control the work.
“And then what we have underpinning that is a team all with one vision – and one mentality. That is to make the first team better.
“If it was anything other than that, then I couldn’t have said yes. Because that’s not my strength.
“One of the things you need to do is to know yourself. And I know myself.
“I know what makes me work well and that wouldn’t have been a model I would have succeeded in.
“I have provided leadership all the way through myself. I am better when I have control.
“I am not a power freak. But my point is that 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. I don’t think it was a model the owners were set on, by any means. I think it’s one that people have come to them and suggested. They are still learning about the game.”
Liverpool have confirmed that instead, the role of sporting director will be divided amongst “key appointments” with Rodgers stressing the need for him to maintain overall control but work with a team of trusted experts in various fields.
“It’s very simple – you’ve got a manager and in and around that you’ve got different departments,” he said.
“When you are at a club of this status and of this size there’s no one person in charge of everything.
“I can’t do everything, that’s nigh on impossible, and that’s no different to any other top manager. They’ll manager their club – a Wenger for example – and then they’ll have a chief scout and heads of recruitment and heads of medical and he will manage that.
“Then obviously these people will go out and identify targets that fit the identity of the club and bring a list of three or four names, we’ll look at the value and worth and then you’ll make the decision as the manager because it’s absolute madness if you are the manager of the club and someone else tells you to have that player, it doesn’t work.
“I’ve had total clarity with that from the guys so I’ve got confidence that will remain.
“It was for this reason that I didn’t want to be sat up there, say what I’ve said and then in three weeks time Louis Van Gaal walks in the door. It does not work.”
Rodgers’ time at Chelsea, where worked in the youth and reserve set-ups, has given him a flavour of what life is like under a sporting director.
Frank Arnesen, who now occupies a similar role at Hamburg, spent a season at Stamford Bridge and Rodgers said it was a successful combination – but he prefers to work without one.
“I’ve worked with it before, don’t get with me wrong,” he added.
“I worked with Frank Arnesen at Chelsea and had a brilliant relationship with Frank.
“Frank came and was outside with me on the field as sporting director of Chelsea for a year and I still have a great relationship with him.
“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.”