When we were initially linked with Brendan Rodgers my thoughts was who’s he? What’s he done? Oh he’s turned us down, I’m gutted! Served with tongue firmly in cheek. I’m not the most in tune when it comes to other club’s and I’m quite unashamedly Liverpool centric so when people asked me who would be my preferred choice out of the candidates we were linked with, of those that actually stood a chance i.e. anyone who hadn’t previously managed Liverpool then I was completely clueless.
When it became evident that it was likely to either be Roberto Martinez, Louis Van Gaal or Brendan Rodgers and inevitably there started to spring up articles all over the place detailing the careers and footballing philosophies on all three candidates. The CV’s of Martinez and Rodgers pale in comparison to Van Gaal’s but they all appeared to favour the same style of football. Unfortunately each seemed to possess an achilles heel, where at least one cause for concern leapt from the computer screen at me.
For the Dutchman it was his apparent volatile nature, and ability to start a fight with his own shadow, for Martinez it was his team’s reluctance to change their swashbuckling nature, an attitude which might account for their relegation dogfights, but may also be tempered by their star players being poached by other clubs.
With Brendan Rodgers, the more I read the more I liked. I watched a few YouTube videos where he discussed football with the Match of the Day 3 panel at the tail end of the season, and he spoke eloquently and most importantly intelligently about the game. On the show Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage and Brendan Rodgers were asked to choose their all time Premier League XI and while Shearer and Savage opted for a 4-4-2 formation Brendan went for the familiar (to us) 4-2-3-1 and when asked why Gigg’s wasn’t in his team he remarked that he was a fantastic player but he didn’t fit the system. Now this was a purely hypothetical situation where he made a tough decision on the basis of what was good for the team, not the individual player, and it was that thought process that made me lean towards favouring him out of the remaining candidates in supposedly serious contention.
As I said all three have their supposed weaknesses and for me it was how good is the Norn Iron man in the transfer market? All I kept reading about was how Brendan Rodgers had continued the great legacy that had been left by Roberto Martinez at Swansea. It seemed evident from the high regard players held him in that he was at least a half decent man-manager, from videos I’d watched from his backroom staff it seemed he was pretty meticulous in his tactical preparation too, one of the things that kept coming up was his emphasis on players being of good character, but did he have it in the transfer market? Could he distinguish a player from a hardworking yard dog journeyman?
In other words had the team that had finished so comfortably mid-table this season been Martinez’s handy-work, undoubtedly managed well by Rodgers, but had Roberto himself built the team that had done so remarkable in their first Premier League season, so I decided to check.
My methods aren’t the most scientific, I’ve basically cross referenced the Swansea City website, Wikipedia and transfermarkt.co.uk and between them worked out which players featured the most (League games only) how much they were bought for, at what age and who brought them to the club? I also looked at the estimated market values as indicated on transfermarkt.co.uk
The first notable thing, which probably wont come as a surprise to many of you, but in between Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers, there was Paulo Sousa. As I say I’m pretty blinkered when it comes to football these days: I only care, watch, worry about the team in red. So anyway it seems I’d been lead to believe that Brendan Rodgers had continued the style of football put in place by Martinez, it wasn’t true, at least not directly. It had been via Sousa.
The players that started most league games were Michel Vorm (37 starts) Ashley Williams (37) Leon Britton (35) Scott Sinclair (35) Neil Taylor (35) Angel Rangel (32) Danny Graham (32) Joe Allen (31) Nathan Dyer (29) and Steven Caulker (26) of these, four were brought in by Brendan Rodgers, two were signed by Martinez, and two by Sousa, while Joe Allen was a product of their youth system.
Wayne Routledge and Gylfi Sigurdsson both started 17 matches in the league, and were brought in by Rodgers. Garry Monk and Mark Gower were signed in turn by Kenny Jackett and Roberto Martinez and started 14 matches each. Andrea Orlandi, Kemy Augustien, Luke Moore, Leroy Lita and Ashley Richards were first on the team sheet a total of 22 times between them, although it’s worth noting that Moore and Lita were used as substitutes 17 times and 12 times respectively in Swansea’s league campaign, both bought by Brendan Rodgers, with Richards having come through as a trainee and Orlandi a Martinez purchase.
What this means is of the Premier League squad used 11 were brought in by Rodgers, four by Roberto Martinez, two by Paulo Sousa and one by Kenny Jackett, with the other two coming through the youth team. It would only be fair to note Jackett initially signed Leon Britton in his first spell at the club, before Rodgers eventually coaxed him back from Sheffield Utd.
Not including loanees Brendan Rodgers counting only the players mentioned above, and the goalkeeping understudy Gerhardt Tremmel has an average spend of £1.3m per player, with an average increase in value over the nine players featured of £1.67m per player, worked out in accordance with the figures listed on transfermarkt.co.uk. The average age of these players is 26 at time of purchase, which includes Tremmel at 33 years of age, but discounts the two loan deals of Caulker (17) from Spurs and Sigurdsson (22) from Hoffenheim. If we were to include the loan signings it would reduce the average age to 25 years.
So what does this tell us? Well I think it says that Rodgers had by this season certainly stamped his name onto the squad at least. He also hasn’t done what the Allardyce’s of this world do and opt for players looking for a final pay day before they retire, those careers he has sought to revive; the likes of Routledge, Moore and Lita were still relatively young at 26 years of age when he signed them for Swansea City. The increase in value of the players is inevitable given they’re now considered Premier League quality, are still relatively young and under Rodgers tactics had begun carving out reputations for themselves, being linked with some of the Premier League’s top clubs.
This doesn’t answer the question of how he will fair with a proper kitty. I mean David Moyes has done wonders at a small club, but he’s had the best success, and found the best players at bargain basement prices; Cahill, Arteta, Pienaar. When he’s been given relatively big money he’s blown it; Yakubu, Johnson and Kroldrup, so there is always that slight concern that Rodgers’ transfer nous won’t translate to big money, on that we can only wait and see. What we do know from my meticulously conducted research is that out of the Swansea squad most of the players are his, even if previous managers brought a minority of the major contributors to the club. So every credit should go to Brendan Rodgers achievements with the Swans this season.