FootballPremier League

Brendan Rodgers would be the right man at the wrong time for Manchester United

November 17, 2021January 7th, 2022

MANCHESTER United have surely thought about replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently. While the Old Trafford club continues to give the Norwegian their backing, there is almost certainly an unwritten shortlist of candidates that could take over should a change in the dugout be made. According to reports, Brendan Rodgers’ name is probably high on that list.

In many ways, Rodgers’ appointment as United boss would make sense. The Northern Irishman is considered one of the best coaches, in the truest sense, in the country and Solskjaer’s biggest problem is that he cannot coach, at least not at the standard required to turn Manchester United into genuine title challengers.

There was a time not so long ago when Rodgers would have been the perfect appointment at Old Trafford. However, the 48-year-old would now be the right man at the wrong time for Manchester United. If Rodgers is the club’s first-choice to replace Solskjaer, it’s clear the United hierarchy don’t understand their own team.

Rodgers is a team builder. He is among the very best at instilling footballing principles in a team, as his track record at Swansea City, Liverpool, Celtic and Leicester City proves. United could benefit from this, but Rodgers also appears to have a ceiling as a manager at Premier League level. This is much more of an issue.

At Liverpool, Rodgers’ team fell away just as quickly as they rose. At Celtic, the Northern Irishman enjoyed great success in terms of domestic silverware, but struggled to translate that into continental form as the Hoops were humiliated more than once under Rodgers in the Champions League and Europa League.

It’s possible Leicester City have seen the best of Rodgers with the Foxes competitive near the top of the Premier League table in each of the last two seasons. Indeed, the 48-year-old deserves credit for the way he has forged a team capable of punching above their weight among the English football elite.

And yet Rodgers has been unable to consolidate this progress by making Leicester City’s place in the top four stick. The Foxes spent 68 of the 72 match weeks over the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons inside the Champions League qualification spots only to slip down to fifth on both occasions. 

 

 

Of course, Rodgers also struggled to shake off the tag of being a bottler as Liverpool manager after allowing the 2013/14 Premier League title to slip through his fingers. This might have been harsh given how Rodgers raised expectations at Anfield to an unrealistic levels, but is this really something Manchester United want their new manager to be associated with?

What’s more, Rodgers’ Leicester City team have been defensively vulnerable this season to the point that only four Premier League teams have conceded more goals than the King Power Stadium outfit over the first 11 fixtures of the campaign. They have conceded even more goals than a Manchester United side that lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool just a few weeks ago.

In possession, Leicester City play good football, but their off-the-ball shape and structure is frequently suspect, just like United’s is. If the Old Trafford decision makers want someone to tighten things up at the back, Rodgers should be nowhere near the top of their shortlist. It’s one of his biggest weaknesses as a coach.

With their squad already one of the strongest in the Premier League at this specific moment in time, United need a manager who can help them take the final steps towards a title challenge. Rodgers, for all his qualities, wouldn’t be that figure. Manchester United must find their own Jurgen Klopp, not the man he replaced at Liverpool.