Reds prepare for Rodgers era

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Brendan Rodgers © Trinity Mirror

There is an air of intrigue surrounding Anfield at the moment as Liverpool supporters await the start of the upcoming season with a third new manager in two years.

After the dismissal of club legend Kenny Dalglish midway through May following a campaign which saw the Reds claim Carling Cup glory but lose in the FA Cup final to Chelsea and finish a lowly eighth place in the Premier League, owners Fenway Sports Group turned to Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman arrives with a wealth of coaching experience, having assisted Jose Mourinho at Chelsea before taking full manager positions at Watford, Reading and most recently Swansea.

His work with the Welsh club impressed not just for the rapid rise from the Championship to mid-table in the top flight, but the style with which their football was played. Rodgers’ belief in a possession-based, high-pressing style has won many admirers and would appear to be an ideal fit with the traditions of Liverpool.

A key component of that vision at Swansea, young midfielder Joe Allen, has joined Rodgers at Anfield after completing a £15million move, while Italian forward Fabio Borini – who worked with the 39-year-old boss as a youth at Chelsea and later during a loan spell with the Swans – was the first summer signing, for £10million from Roma.

First five fixtures

August 18 – West Bromwich Albion (A)

August 26 – Manchester City (H)

September 2 – Arsenal (H)

September 15 – Sunderland (A)

September 23 – Manchester United (H)

There have been departures too, however, with Alberto Aquilani, Fabio Aurelio, Craig Bellamy, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez all having left since Rodgers took charge. Doubts also persist about the future of record signing Andy Carroll, who would appear to be surplus to requirements, and Daniel Agger has reportedly been the subject of enquiries from champions Manchester City.

Perhaps the most positive deal of the close season was to secure star forward Luis Suarez to a new long-term contract, but clearly there is still work to be done on a team which, although boasting a formidable starting XI, lacks strength in depth in certain departments.

Spirit is undoubtedly high throughout the camp, however, and key players such as captain Steven Gerrard, midfielder Lucas Leiva and Jamie Carragher have been vociferous in their praise of the new boss’ training methods and attitude since his appointment at the beginning of June.

Pepe Reina, Luis Suarez, Steve Gerrard and Martin Skrtel

Results in pre-season were mixed, with the Reds failing to win any of their three matches during a tour of North America and Canada, but an impressive home performance ensured progression in their Europa League qualifier with FC Gomel before German side Bayer Leverkusen – now managed by former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia – were comfortably beaten in the final warm-up game.

Principal owner John Henry has revealed that there is no pressure on Rodgers to guide the Reds back into the top four and Champions League qualification in his first season, and supporters have been vocal in calling for the new boss to be awarded time to mould the team in his own image.

Liverpool have been absent from Europe’s top continental competition since 2009, though, and progressive steps towards a return will be the minimum aim for Rodgers, who has vowed to “fight for my life” on behalf of the supporters.

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