1. Will we have made the right decision to hire Brendan Rodgers in place of Kenny and why?
Yes if we give him time, the key word here is time. I don't think it's gonna be a smooth ride by any means but I like him, I like his philosophy, I like that he has enough belief in his own way of working to have basically put a gun to FSG's head over the sporting director role. To me that was a defining moment even though he hadn't even got the job at that stage. It shows that he has character, self belief & above all mental strength.
In terms of him replacing Kenny I think it was evident for a long time that FSG wanted their own man, I think they have a vision of having a manager in place for a long time, decades if they can, hence scouring for a young manager. It looks to me like FSG are trying to build an Arsenal influenced side & to do that you need someone with a clear philosophy at the helm who's willing to take on a long term project. From what we've heard from Rodgers so far that seems exactly what he wants so as of right now it appears to be a good fit & in the long run I have confidence it will be.
2. Did we do the right thing sticking to a traditional structure rather than a DOF / Sporting Director?
Yes I think we did, If we had hired someone else I wouldn't be so sure but by hiring Rodgers you're not just hiring a manager in my view. You're hiring the philosophy too & if that's what you want then you have to accommodate him. If he feels he works best without a director of football & he feels that he's best placed to set up the system he needs to be a success then you have to go with that.
3. Which areas of the team need strengthening in the transfer market, how much needs spending and which of our returning loanees should have been used?
Currently there's a few areas that need strengthening, no doubt most people will answer roughly the same way here with a few exceptions. The glaringly obvious ones for me are centre mid, right sided attacker (or left sided depending on where Rodgers hopes to play whom) & a forward. I also think we need a left back but I seem to be alone in that boat.
How much needs spending depends on who you speak to, some will say 100 million others will say 20. Personally I think we could radically improve the first team for around 30 million, I also think that's around about what we will spend this summer. The important thing isn't how much we spend, it's that we spend it wisely & only buy players with a view to them going straight in to the starting 11 with the only exceptions being signings that will replace squad players that have either left or will be leaving.
As for returning players, Cole I'd ship on, Aquilani would be in my squad all day but it depends on whether or not he wants to be here. I've heard conflicting reports, some people say he doesn't want to be here, some people say he doesn't mind, I've seen his agent come out with both over the years so I really have no idea where he stands. If he could be convinced to stay, brilliant, if not we move on.
4. How long will it take to instill the new philosophy on the team?
The first season as always with a new manager is transitional, unless we are truly diabolical (Hodgson) then the majority of the fan base will accept that. For me as long as we finish top 6 & look like we're making progress & try to improve our home form (even if it's to the expense of our away form) then I'll be happy enough. I think we'll start to see us playing the way Rodgers wants us playing by the second season, maybe not week in week out but we'll be on the way. I don't think we'll truly adapt to a genuine short passing, possession game until his third season in charge.
5. Where will we finish in the league and what will the order of the top four be?
Such a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables, who stays, who leaves, injuries, etc etc I'm going to say 5th I think above us will be;
I really can't call it between Spurs & Arsenal, it completely depends on who keeps hold of who. Modric & RVP will both be highly sought after this summer & in all honesty I could see both leaving. It all then depends on who adapts to life without them better. Next season I think the draws will kill us again, I just don't see us picking up enough points at home to break in to the top 4, I really hope I'm wrong but I think we'll be pipped to it by one of those two where one of them (I'm inclined to say Spurs in all honesty) will limp in behind us. Just can't see past their horrible form last season, if they lose VDV & Modric that's a hell of a lot of creativity gone from their starting XI, they may also lose Adebayor & Pav this summer. That's a difficult group of players to replace & settle in the space of one summer.