Author Topic: Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)  (Read 120599 times)

Offline lachesis

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Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)
« on: May 16, 2012, 09:13:02 PM »
This is a discussion to debate the merits and failings of any coaches we are linked with or people like.

Andre Villas-Boas

"Souness made comments about it being easy to win at Porto - It was easy to win at Liverpool in the '90s and the '80s, wasn't it? But he was five years there and didn't win anything."
 - Andre Villas-Boas.

As we look to now replace our manager for the third time in two years there is a list of contenders for the vacant post, but one name stands out above others in Andre Villas-Boas as being the right managerial candidate.

Firstly we are left with an empty club devoid of any sort of senior staff it appears. The club is getting younger, more dynamic and clearly streamlined. As it stands now we have no manager, no director of communications, no director of football and no chief executive. We are clearing house - but for what purpose?

When Villas-Boas went to Chelsea he encountered a lot of problems with existing staff, not least some of the senior players who never really saw him as the successor to Mourinho. I think in all likelihood it was never appreciated how much work he did to support Mourinho. By introducing draconian measures like locking players out of training if they arrived late, making players report in on days off, handing out fines where necessary and making it clear he did not rate certain senior players he created an environment where it was always going to be difficult for him to succeed. Essentially it led to a team that did not want to play for the manager.

However beyond this he went as far to get rid of the clubs medical director (Bryan English)and sent two assistant coaches (Glen Driscoll - head of fitness & Paul Clement - first team coach) packing along with him.

He then took exception to Chelsea's CEO (Ron Gourlay) and requested club demands of the players were reigned in. He further antagonised the CEO by refusing to appear for a mandatory post-match interview after being disgusted with a refereeing display by Howard Webb at Old Trafford in the 3-3 draw in February. He was told if he did not appear he would be fined, to which Villa-Boas responded that he would he happy to have the fine deducted from his wages. Abramovich had to step in at this point and requested that he fulfil the contractual obligations of the club to the media and Villas-Boas eventually acquiesced.

Bearing all this in mind, there would be no such resistance from any messy political backdrops now. Indeed, if the move is swift enough then Boas might even be able to get involved with influencing the decisions on a proper structure including a CEO and DoF that will support his vision.

He spoke tellingly of a three year plan to perform at Chelsea that would change the structure and the culture of the club. To most Liverpool fans this sounds very much like a long overdue shot in the arm since the last foundations of Benitez's vision have fallen.

At this stage a lack of infrastructure might indicate exactly who we are looking at/for and make FSG appear in clam control. On the other hand it could just be hand wringing and sweating brows. However, from an internal corporate point of view, the role looks tailor made for someone like Villas-Boas to come in and build a real project around with full commitment and resources.

So onto the footballing aspect of the appointment. Villas-Boas did an interview with Daniel Sousa ( for Sousas' master thesis) and was so impressed with the questions that he emulated Bobby Robsons faith in him at a young age by making Sousa his scout.

“When Mr. Bobby Robson came to Porto to be a coach in 1994, he moved into my building. I was a small boy, but because I was so interested in football I went to his flat to try to meet him.

He liked my passion, so he helped me to enroll at Lilleshall to take my FA coaching qualifications. He also arranged for me to do my Scottish qualifications in Largs and spend some time at Ipswich with George Burley to see the team train. I started very young in Lilleshall. In fact, I shouldn’t really have been there, because the law doesn’t allow a minor to take qualifications. But Bobby [Robson] smoothed the way with Mr. Charles Hughes [the former head of coaching at the Centre of Excellence] and I was allowed in to take my UEFA C badges. I was the youngest coach there by a mile, but I was so determined to make it that it didn’t bother me.”

Here are the most interesting parts of that discussion (source taken from the Telegraph)

AVB: There are more spaces in football than people think. Even if you play against a deep lying team, you immediately get half of the pitch. And after that, in attacking midfield, you can provoke the opponent with the ball, provoke him to move forward or sideways and open up a space. But many players can’t understand the game.

They can’t think about or read the game. Things have become too easy for football players: high salaries, a good life, with a maximum of five hours work a day and so they can’t concentrate, can’t think about the game.

Barcelona’s players are completely the opposite. Their players are permanently thinking about the game, about their movement, about how to provoke their opponent with the position of the ball.

DS: Does a top team need to dominate possession to win a match?

AVB: Not necessarily, for a simple reason. In Portugal we have this idea of match control based on recycling possession. That’s what we in Portugal, want to achieve in our football: top teams that dominate by ball possession, that push the opponent back to their area.

If you go find the top English teams pre-Arsene Wenger they tell you how to control a match in the opposite way without much ball possession, direct football, searching for the second ball.

Maybe now, controlling possession is the reference point for a top team, but that happens because they have much more quality players than the other teams, so it would be wrong not to take advantage of those individual skills.

DS: One thing Louis Van Gaal says is that you can control a match offensively and defensively but if you keep in control defensively you can also determine where your opponent will play on the pitch.

AVB: Yes, I agree. In that sense, yes. But the idea we now have in Portugal of match control is about having more ball possession than the opponent.

DS: Exactly, but match control has to result in scoring chances. That’s the only way it makes sense. There are teams that have like 60 per cent ball possession and that results in nothing at all.

AVB: That’s it. Match control always has to have a purpose, a main goal.

DS: And in that concept of match control, are there any sectors of the team more important than others?

AVB: Well, that depends on the mechanisms you want to use defensively and offensively. Let me give you an example:

Top teams nowadays don’t look to forward penetration from their midfielders because the coach prefers them to stand laterally (horizontally) and then use the movement of the wingers as the main source to create chances.

So, you, as a coach, have to know exactly what kind of players you have and analyse the squad to decide how you want to organise your team offensively. And then, there are maybe some players more important than others.

For instance, many teams play with defensive pivots, small defensive midfielders. And, except Andrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso, and maybe Esteban Cambiasso and one or two more, they are players that are limited to the horizontal part of the game: they keep passing the ball from one side to another, left or right, without any kind of vertical penetration.

Can’t you use your defensive midfielder to introduce a surprise factor in the match? Let’s say, first he passes laterally and then, suddenly, forward?

DS: What’s the difference between playing with three or four midfielders?

AVB: Rafa Benitez created a 4-4-2 much more dynamic than the usual English 4-4-2. Because he introduced speed in ball possession, he gave it variation between forward and lateral passes.

The usual classic English 4-4-2 is more basic: a penetrating midfielder and another one that stays in position; a winger who moves inside and another one who stays wide; a full back who overlaps and another one who covers the defence.

If you talk about a 4-4-2 diamond, that’s totally different. You play with two pivotal midfielders, one defensive and one offensive, so it creates many more problems for your opponent. Defensively, though, you take a great risk of conceding too much space because you are very central and you lack width. You have to create compensation mechanisms.

Me, I’m a 4-3-3 fan, not 4-4-2. I don’t see how a classic 4-4-2 could work in the Spanish league, where every team plays 4-3-3 and the superiority of the midfield has become crucial. What Mourinho did with Chelsea with his 4-3-3 was something never seen before: a dynamic structure, aggressive, with aggressive transitions...and then there is Barca’s 4-3-3, which wouldn’t work in England, because of the higher risk of losing the ball.

If you have midfielders like Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard you don’t want your forwards to come and play between lines, because Lampard and Gerrard have a large field of action and very often move in to those spaces. Lampard was often irritated with Didier Drogba because Drogba wanted to receive the ball there but then, amazingly, his first touch was poor, so he lost the ball and we were exposed to a transition from the opponent. So we had to limit Drogba from going there and ask him to play deeper.

DS: Is recycling possession essential in the attacking organisation of a top team?

AVB: Well, it’s essential to every team. Every team want to score. That’s the purpose of the game. Barcelona play laterally only after a forward pass. See how the centre backs go out with ball, how they construct the play. They open up (moving wider), so that the right or left-back can join the midfield line. Guardiola has talked about it: the centre backs provoke the opponent, invite them forward then, if the opponent applies quick pressure the ball goes to the other central defender, and this one makes a vertical pass - Not to the midfielders, who have their back turned to the ball, but to those moving between lines, Andres Iniesta or Lionel Messi, or even directly to the striker.

Then they play the second ball with short lay-offs, either to the wingers who have cut inside or the midfielders, who now have the game in front of them. They have an enormous capacity not to lose the ball, to do things with an unbelievable precision.

Another thing about Barcelona, there is always a full-back who arrives earlier in the attack, the other stays in position initially but then progressively joins the attack, as the ball circulates on the other side of the pitch, so he can be a surprise element. When you least expect he arrives. He chooses the perfect timing for the overlap.

DS: Louis Van Gaal says a forward pass is not a risk, but a lateral pass is because when you make a horizontal pass you are much more open, more exposed in case you lose the ball.

AVB: Yes, that’s right. And there are differences between a lateral pass and a slightly diagonal pass.

Something that used to happen a lot in England, when teams played 4-4-2, was that the central midfielders exchanged the ball between them in parallel passes so what we did with Lampard, or Liverpool did with Gerrard, was to try to cut into that space between the two midfielders with fast movement from Lampard (or Gerrard). If they got the ball there, there were already two opponents eliminated in the attacking transition.

DS: How do you attack a team that plays with park-the-bus tactics?

AVB: Let’s see. Juventus play with a very deep line, they don’t put any pressure on you high up the field. Nowadays most teams don’t. It can limit you because they control the space behind them with perfect offside timing.

They limit your forward passes as well because they are all grouped within 30 or 40 metres, completely closed in two lines of four plus the two forwards. So you start constructing “short”, begin the attacking process with your centre-backs of full-backs carrying the ball forward to the midfield area but then you want to pass the ball to the midfielders and you don’t know how to do it, because there is an ultra-limited space, everything is completely closed.

DS: So what to do?

AVB: You have to provoke them with the ball, which is something most teams can’t do. I cannot understand it. It’s an essential factor in the game. At this time of ultra defensive  teams, you will have to learn how to provoke them with the ball. It’s the ball they want, so you have to defy them using the ball as a carrot.
Louis Van Gaal’s idea is one of continuous circulation, one side to the other, until the moment that, when you change direction, an space opens up inside and you go through it.

So, he provokes the opponent with lateral circulation of the ball, until the moment that the opponent will start to pressure out of despair. What I believe in is to challenge the rival by driving the ball into him. That’s something Pep Guardiola believes is decisive. And that’s something that Henk ten Cate also took to Avram Grant’s Chelsea. He took it with him from Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona. We did it differently at Chelsea under Mourinho.

Our attacking construction was different, with the ball going directly to the full-backs or midfielders. With Ten Cate, play was started with John Terry or Ricardo Carvalho, to invite the opponent’s pressure. Then you had one less opponent in the next step of construction.

After the match against Newcastle in 2005, Andre Villas-Boas was sent to scout the opposition and produced a very thorough and detailed report about their formation, tactics, strengths and weaknesses. You can view the report here:

So he clearly has a good strong technical and tactical grasp of how to beat teams. The only question really relates to his role. Is he an excellent number two or can he replicate his fine performance at Porto in England were the jury is still out?

In terms of local adaptation and being able to fit in with our current setup, this is what he had to say when he was at Chelsea about his ideas:

<a href=";amp;hl=en_GB" target="_blank" class="new_win">;amp;hl=en_GB</a>

He would be inheriting Skrtel, Agger, Johnson and Enrique to use as his footballing back line and would look to give Lucas the freedom to play more penetrating passes, supported by his interview above, specifically the line about the defensive midfielder not making lateral passes but forward ones.

And what of the encompassing academy and blending of the first team and youth players? Well it's clear that from above he favours the 4-3-3 formation but of a specific setup. And if we go back to royhendos excellent post about Segura then we meet this line here:

'The technical program of the Academy is based on a 4-2-3-1 system of play implemented by Rafa Benitez "although I would have preferred a 4-3-3, but England has historically used the 4-4-2 and we had to adapt." In the case of Liverpool, "using it as a key tool because our style is the passing game, where it has the greatest impact".

Taking into account all I've posted it does appear the position is screaming out for Villas-Boas or someone of the same cloth. There are still questions though, can 4-3-3 be used successfully by the players we have at our disposal? If not, what would be the cost of strengthening to such a degree? Finally, with player power taking its toll at Chelsea is he equipped enough to deal with the stronger personalities at Liverpool?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 10:09:28 AM by lachesis »

Offline Vulmea

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Re: Why Andre Villas-Boas makes sense for Liverpool (*)
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 11:48:43 PM »
Couple of concerns really - if he is prepared for confrontation to manage the club then as with Chelsea isn't that likely to lead to dismal results and given Kenny's removal how much time will he get?

How confident can we be of his ability to actually manage players - in particular our players who appear to have limited game intelligence and  a more 'British' approach to the game?

How relevant is spanish/ portuguese style football to the english game? Would we not be better looking at a more physical/direct league?

How much of a change to our playing staff would be required?

I suspect that if Hodgson had been able to last a season we would have been after AVB last summer - he ticks FSG's boxes, unfortuntely they dont have a scooby about football. That does not mean they are wrong its just a fact.
The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

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Offline StevenLFC

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Re: Why Andre Villas-Boas makes sense for Liverpool (*)
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2012, 12:24:12 AM »
Not long ago, one of the fellas on the TAW podcast made a great point that I 100% agree with. FSG know very little about football, therefore they will likely look at the most successful side currently playing, and that's Barcelona, and they'll try to copy their model. It's like if I bought a baseball team knowing sweet FA about baseball, I'd copy a successful team. So what did Barca do? Well, they invested in young talent and a young manager. FSG look to be doing this, and if they are then AVB could well be the man, assuming that Pep doesn't fancy managing us!

AVB did his job at Chelsea; he was brought in to re-vamp an aging squad, and that's what he did. However the 'win-now no matter what' Sky Sports/Twitter culture (the same culture which is to blame for us even having this discussion) meant that he had to go. Sure, Di Matteo has guided Chelsea to an FA Cup win & the Champions League final, but AVB could possibly have done the same had he not tried to ease out the older players such as Lampard & Drogba. At Liverpool, the squad isn't that old and it doesn't really need overhauling. Don't get me wrong, it needs strenghening but that needs to be done by adding players, not really by us replacing aging stars with youth.

Offline lachesis

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Re: Why Andre Villas-Boas makes sense for Liverpool (*)
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2012, 08:17:40 AM »

Yeah, don't get me wrong I'm not championing him as my first choice but having looked carefully at him since the last time we were linked and the way the club is poised he makes sense to be the prime candidate in my opinion.

I think the appointment of Kenny was right, he galvanised the support and we pulled together to rescue some of that awful seasno we were undergoing. Unfortunately he's been unable to translate his ideas into a new vision for us for whatever reasons.

Villas-Boas is a choice that treads the line of excitement with potential - he has a gameplan and an vision, he has a decent set of credentials, he is young and I think taking this into account the fans would become placated and as such watch with interest if not curiosity. I'm sure he would get the full backing of the crowd anyway.

From the way he sets out his team and Porto, he seemed to work on a coaching methodology of 'drills'. He seemed to work on helping players identify patterns or signals in play that triggered a response or reaction from his players. One example of this is making Belluschi tuck into a central position, when he was wha t I'd class as more of an orthodox winger from his River Plate days (I actually wanted him when he went to Olympiakos). When Hulk pulled into an area of space on the right, it triggered a run from Belluschi on the overlap that completely opened up the other team. I'm currently trying to get hold of a few Porto games to show some vids/images.

Not sure about the physical/direct league thing - the one reservation is he seems to think that teams like Stoke have an actual plan to eventually 'come at you'. I don't think he fully appreciates that some teams do just play for the point and nothing more.

Personally I think minimal changes would 'need' be made, I think the only place of investment we would definitely need to go out and source would be a really strong right winger, if we were to setup similar to Porto (unless Suarez could become our 'Hulk').

Here the players that the attacking hinges on are Gerrard - free to drive in midfield or to overlap on the right - (Boas attack was heavily weighted on the right) and we also have Johnson in the right fullback position as well. Suarez is free to drift into the space he usually finds himself in and whilst Lucas stays in the middle, the fulback attack is covered by the more energetic Henderson. That's just one way it could pan out.

It's worth pointing out that while he failed at Chelsea, a lot of blame fell to the defence. Terry was to Chelsea what Carragher would be to us trying to play this way. Skrtel and Agger are much more equipped to develop the more athletic and ball playing partnership Villas-Boas aims for. Chelsea with Terry, Luiz and Ivanovic were not really built for this.

The Chelsea full backs fared much better but Villas-Boas even tried to take his previous full back with him to Chelsea as well. However Cole and Bosingwa did look good whilst he was there and quickly racked up the assists between each other. And for me that's where it all fell apart at Chelsea, he needed to basically bring in new players to replace senior ones that didn't fit the system. Just like Lampard was too aggressive in attack to play the 'Moutinho' role and fell short of favour as well. This is why I've pushed Gerrard into the Belluschi position as I feel he would face the same problems and cause the same frustrations that Lampard did at Chelsea - however Boas was vindicated with Ramires' scoring record.

Don't get me wrong it may very well be that Gerrard falls into the same trap if he is unwilling to fill this role but I think our team is set to make the transition much more than Chelsea ever were. We only have one potential problem, Chelsea had three/four straight from the off. Of course this may lead onto other questions such as if Chelsea were not equipped to play this way why did Villas-Boas persist with a failing strategy and if we become unable to play his blueprint, how will we fare?

Despite the heavy Premier League defeat at Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas is adamant he will not change his philosophy to the game and will work to eradicate the defensive problems on show against Arsenal.

“The philosophy is a personal value and a club value,” explained Villas-Boas. “You should never sell it cheaply.

“It is something that makes us all proud and we will stick to this philosophy throughout this league.

“It is our way of playing, we are proud of the way we play and we just have to correct things to get a positive result.”

Villas-Boas also backed his defenders, insisting two freak goals cost them after they battled back to 3-3 before John Terry’s slip allowed van Persie to restore the lead and then complete his hat-trick in stoppage time as Chelsea pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

Offline Garstonite

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Re: Why Andre Villas-Boas makes sense for Liverpool (*)
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2012, 08:35:18 AM »
I'm not really in the mood to consider potential candidates to be honest, but this was brought to my attention yesterday and I thought it may be of interest to you:



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Offline The 5th Benitle

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Re: Why Andre Villas-Boas makes sense for Liverpool (*)
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2012, 11:02:23 AM »
Taking into account all I've posted it does appear the position is screaming out for Villas-Boas or someone of the same cloth. There are still questions though, can 4-3-3 be used successfully by the players we have at our disposal? If not, what would be the cost of strengthening to such a degree?
If I'm honest I was always a bit baffled we didn't play 4-3-3 more under Kenny this season. Carroll's gone on record to say it suits his game best, Suarez and one of Kuyt/Downing/Maxi/Bellamy either side.

Also suits our midfielders particularly Gerrard and Henderson

Also suits attacking full backs.

Great post by the way. Unsurprisingly I'm thinking with my heart and I want Rafa but Villas Boas strikes me as a deeply impressive manager who went to the wrong club in Chelsea.

Offline lachesis

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Can Martinez make the step up
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2012, 10:08:08 AM »
Roberto Martinez

Wigan Athletic have given permission for Liverpool to approach Roberto Martinez to interview for the vacant Liverpool managers post. The question that now surfaces asks if Martinez is capable of:

a) realising and implementing a vision
b) capable of making the step up.

Firstly there is the complication of Villa also calling for his services and he may prefer to cut his teeth in a series of progression rather than suddenly be thrust into the high pressure, closely scrutinsed post of Liverpool manager. He turned down Villa last season and the sound bites of only wanting to leave Wigan for a 'bigger club/opportunity' show, to me at least, he would prefer to finish his project there unless an offer that was 'too good to be true' came along.

Martinez backs up this opinion by only ever talking of laying foundations for a dynasty. It's fair to say he has ambition, but does that ambition outstrip his talent? Having said that his work at Swansea is said to have allowed Brendan Rodgers the fortuitous opportunity to 'stand on the shoulders of giants' as it were.

'We lost two very important players in Tom Cleverley and Charles N'Zogbia last summer and we were struggling to create goalscoring opportunities. But we now play a system that is designed to get the best out of our players. It's a system that has been made here to play the best we can with the players we have.

'I did something similar at Swansea. Everyone played 4-4-2 but we couldn't compete like that with the budget restrictions we had. So we started with 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3, and it gave us a lot of success.

'Here we are now very well balanced. We are organised defensively and we are creating opportunities. It's not a case of the players adapting to a system. It's adapting to a system that suits our players."

 - Roberto Martinez

Not to take anything away from Rogers, he argues that Swansea made changes at the right time when the preceding manager had hit his ceiling. He says that Martinez came in and got the best out of the squad he had, made a couple of additions and changed the style of play to suit these players which brought good fortune. He was followed by Paulo Sousa, who took over a 'good squad' and added a couple of his own players. Lastly Rogers followed as his ideals meant football was played a 'certain way' and he needed to bring his own players in to achieve this.

Martinez went on to Wigan and in truth it's been a difficult two and a half years for him. It's only now that there looks to be some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. After this amount of work and graft that has gone into the Wigan project, can he turn his back on it now just as he would be looking for the acclaim? In his mind - and with recent coverage of Rogers - Martinez would feel very hard done by if he moved on and wasn't fully attributed with Wigans revival for the second time.

With regards to his tactical nous and the much lauded 3-4-3 (which I'll come to in a bit), he certainly takes his work seriously:

"It was during the hours of analysis, during what proved a particularly difficult first few months of the season, that Martinez arrived at the 3-4-3 formation which is working so well for his team.

'I have a 60-inch pen-touch screen that allows you to write on it. You link it to your computer so it becomes a 60-inch computer screen really and you can use the ProZone software with it.

'My wife was delighted when I had it installed, but she understands that I need that space and time to be able to come back to being myself. Once I find a solution, I'm fine.

'You learn more from defeats. You see how players react to situations. I don't see it as work. I see being a football manager as a way to live. The moment you feel you need a day off, you are in the wrong business.'
'It helps that we have a very young group. It might lack experience but it has real energy. We  went to Anfield and won the game. We went to Chelsea and really we beat them. We are very flexible. We have been working so much in the past two-and-a-half years, tactically, and we can adapt to the demands of different games against different teams. We focus on the small details and see how we can make strong partnerships on the pitch. That's how you arrive at a system that works.'

Off the field, too, this  38-year-old manager seems to have a system that works. Martinez is an intelligent guy. He studied and qualified as a physiotherapist when still in Spain and continued his studies once he arrived at Wigan, gaining a post-graduate diploma in business and marketing at Manchester University

In his role as a manager he puts both to good use. 'I was always interested in trying to understand the business side of football so I went to university in Manchester a year after I arrived at Wigan to play,' he says. 'I enjoyed it and I also did it to develop a better understanding of English. I wanted to be able to think in English, instead of having to translate in my head all the time.

'The physiotherapy was more a promise to my mother. There was no guarantee I was going to earn a living in football and she wanted me to have an alternative.
'I was six months into doing my hospital hours when I moved to England. But it really helped me to understand my body when I was playing and to understand injuries and how the body can recover. I was never injured for more than nine weeks in 16 years of professional football.

'I've always been fascinated by different techniques and I look at what the best physios in the world are doing. I love that side of football. Injury prevention. Maximising physical ability. The treatment of injuries. I always believe every injury can be avoided. That's my starting point and my staff believe the same.

'You get accidents in football, collisions that cause injuries that can't be avoided. But even then if your body is right it will react quicker to the treatment and recover faster. I don't believe in soft-tissue injuries. If you get a soft-tissue injury in football, a mistake has been made. It could be the training programme, a lifestyle problem. Whatever it is, it will be a mistake.

'At this club we are below the average for injuries in the Premier League. It's important. It helps.'

 - Roberto Martinez

On the back of this, we can say that Martinez is a manager that is serious about the work he does. He has a very high level of analytical detail and is not afraid to try new things. The one cause for concern is the time it takes to arrive at a system to suit the players. We've just had a very disjointed season trying out different tactics and formations, and this went on as far back as Roy Hodgson.

While we have Martinez and Villas-Boas in a head-to-head I feel with that with Boas he has a defined way of playing and as seen at Chelsea requires a certain set of players to transition into that style. On the flip side I would say Liverpool have the players (possibly minus one) to immediately put that philosophy into practise and reap rewards from it, so there would be little risk.

Martinez on the other hand, would come in and take stock of what we have. He would work through the team and juggle his ideas about until he came up with something that worked for the players at his disposal first and foremost. He has a core of young players which he will require to keep the energy and morale up during difficult times of the transition. More importantly after the affluent summer of 11/12 at Liverpool this profile or approach might be deemed less risky by the owners.

It appears to be a trade off between low risk, unknown ceiling against medium risk, potential high ceiling. Between the two I think Boas is more likely to have us closer to CL football at the end of one season than Martinez though.

One other thing of concern for me is at the moment, we are awash with candidates who appear to have a flavour of the month taste about them. The premier league is really quite static in that you know pretty much how most teams are going to setup. I fear that Wigan (almost relegated we must remind ourselves), could easily have followed the path of QPR instead. It's quite plausible to suggest if Martinez had not eventually found the balance to that team, he could have take Wigan down still fumbling for the right chemistry.

Here's what Martinez had to say regarding Boas' favoured 4-3-3:

“When you play a 4-3-3, you rely a lot on the full-backs to get high up the pitch. You shouldn’t look at a system as away to win a football match, it is the players that play the system. Maynor [Figueroa], Gary [Caldwell] and Antolin [Alcaraz] have been so solid with a back three, and it allows [other] players to be high up the pitch, like the wing-backs. They aren’t full-backs that need to get deep and then forward to give us an extra man, they are in positions where they can do both a little bit better, and we can be a little bit more solid.

“The difference is the width that we get…before, we had to compromise a little bit, when you want to be very attack-minded, the full-backs have to push on, so you leave two players at the back. Now you’re still pushing the wing-backs on, but you’ve still got three players at the back, plus probably a midfielder. In the West Brom game, as Paul Scharner will tell you, we were attacking with seven, eight, nine players and they were surprised by it, and that’s what the system gives you, without being weak at the back.

“It suits our players. When you’ve got a Jean Beausejour (acquired in January) who is a specialist in that position, you take advantage of that. The back three gives you that. Then there’s the energy we’ve got in midfield, players who can play between lines like Shaun Maloney and Jordi Gomez. It’s so difficult to play against…there’s a few clubs playing it around Europe now, Napoli are one: they play it with Cavani, Hamsik and Lavezzi…this is the advantage of this system – it goes where the danger is…it’s not in defensive lines, it’s not working as a unit of four, it’s not man-marking.”

 - Roberto Martinez

So clearly Martinez feels that a lot fo reliance goes into the full backs in the 4-3-3, and he is right to an extent. But if we first look at what Boas does to eradicate this perceived weakness from the formation it would help further understand how Martinez differs. Here is a typical Boas setup, with no player names - just positions:

Now with the reliance on the full backs they will start to push forward to offer width once the ball has been held up. Remember Boas prefers direct passes to forwards with a pass back onto the oncoming player (full back or midfielder) to open up the pitch. In order to balance the attacking full backs, the deepest lying midfielder drops deeper to make a back three:

So what does that look like now? 3-4-3 right? Usually this was Fernando at Porto, but if Fernando was caught pressuring the ball Moutinho could also drop next to Otamendi. That is one of the gripes from his time at Chelsea he (Boas) felt Lampard was too aggressive in forward play to drop as Moutinho often had to. Boas preferred Ramires in behind the right forward as well.

Wigans was a lot more static in playing three specialised centre backs. You can see that it's a waste of an entire position dedicated to a defender when also playing with wing backs. The other option is when a full back goes forward, one stays back creating the back 'three' which again they used at various times against Braga in the final.

Where Martinez formation has excelled towards the end of the season is the pressure they've exerted when not in possession. At times it's looked like a 5-4-1/3-6-1 as the players drop in order to win the ball back and then quickly find Di Santo up front or Moses wide. It's no doubt entertaining, I've been watching some full games of Wigans as I've been writing my assessment of Martinez and they do have a style that gets the crowd lifted.

Ultimately I'll summarise my thoughts on Martinez by saying the style they currently employ makes use of giving them simple instructions when not in possession and giving them freedom with the ball. I think the interchanging of the front men and midfield is impressive but limited. It's not proven over a significant amount of time for me. I would expect next season, despite the occasional sucker punch, that Wigan are found out and then that's the test of a top coach for me. Will Martinez switch again or will he have conviction to make only small adjustments to his overall blueprint? I don't think he's been at a level yet where that's been fully tested and I wouldn't want it to be under the microscope here next season if we start to struggle.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 10:11:37 AM by lachesis »

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Re: Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2012, 10:28:54 AM »
Kenny Dalglish

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Amazing record as a player and manager.

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Re: Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2012, 10:30:55 AM »
Rafa Benitez

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Re: Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2012, 10:32:10 AM »
Luciano Spalletti

I wanted Spalletti last time and really thought FSG would have approached him a couple of years ago:

The more I think about this, the more I think Luciano Spalletti is tailor made for NESV and Comolli. If we can steady the club, and get it competing for CL places again, when Roy's contract here runs out, there's a good chance that the project over at Zenit will also be drawing to a close and he would be available.

However it wasn't to be and Roy pirouetted into our lives unfortunately. The problem with Spaletti is moving to Russia means he has evidently fallen off the radar, but I still think he has his mark to leave. I’ve read this morning that Chelsea are linked with him as well so I’d hope he is one of FSG’s ‘majestic 12’.

First of all let’s assess the minimum requirements that appear to be on the job spec. We need fourth, whether we are currently in the top four either now or at our potential remains debatable but that is the aim. It’s clear from Ayre that the domestic cups are seem secondary to this goal/objective.

Before Spalletti really made his name at Roma, he caught the eye at Udinese. Before this he had achieved consecutive promotion taking Empoli from C1 to Serie A. At Udinese to put his achievements into context they had finished the 2000/01 season in 12th place and had finished the 2001/02 season in 14th – just one point from relegation. Spalletti came in and in his first season took Udinese from languishing near the bottom of Serie A up to seventh position. The following season he built on this and finished sixth. The season after he surprised everyone by gaining fourth place and qualifying for the Champions League.
After seeing this progression, it persuaded Roma to come calling. They had slid from second, down into eighth. Whilst success was not instant, in that first season he guided Roma to an amazing record of 11 consecutive wins and eventually finished fifth in the 2005/06 season (due to the match fixing scandal Roma are now accredited with finishing second in this season). The following season he also finished second in the league and again in 2007/08. The team that pipped him to the title in each of these seasons was the Inter Milan team. Following on from this he was to lift the Coppa Italia in 2007 and 2008 and reach two Champions League quarter finals.

He felt his time at Roma had come to an end when he had reached the limit of his squad and saw Aquilani sold to us ironically. Despite two great victories in the Europa League the league got off to two defeats after which he tendered his resignation.

Now at Zenit he has just lifted his fourth trophy in the Russian Premier League after the league and cup double the year before and the Super Cup. He is used to expectations that go with the calibre of the club he is at.

So why is he right for Liverpool? Well, judging by the comments of Segura in the first post the academy is already setup and playing to the 4-2-3-1 – the favoured formation of Spalletti anyway.

It was during injuries to all his strikers that saw him adopt the famous 4-6-0 or 4-5-1-0 formation where Roma just played as they normally did without a recognised striker. It’s become a buzz position recently being called the ‘False 9’ and linked with the season Messi was played there for Barcelona.

The reliance then was on players breaking from deep and running past Totti. This requires a very patient possession game which we have already, but do we have the midfield talent to support this? Potentially it could see Suarez in the Totti role – he likes the ball to feet, good dribbler and can beat people. On the flip side this means we would be reliant on players that would still have question marks about them. If Spalletti was to bring back this trademark setup it would have to look something like this (based on who is likely to be here next season):

The question marks are then over Henderson and Adam breaking forward, Downing obviously and Gerrard. It’s becoming apparent to me that the more I think about who we’ve been linked with or consider their setups they all lead to Gerrard being pushed right.

However, the above setup is unlikely since he has gone to Zenit, he has adopted elements of the formation into his favoured 4-2-3-1 which make it resembles more of a 4-3-3 at times. That’s really just there to have a look.

The one thing that has followed Spalletti from Roma has been the fluent football and coaxing of younger players into Zenits first team. They work on the overall strategy of bringing one star player in a season, which to me would also suit FSG’s strategy and more importantly our budget. Again though I’m not sure if this is a good way forward really – it carries a lot of risk and depends on the core of the team being strong enough to sustain longevity, which wouldn’t be as much of a problem in the less mobile nature of the Italian and Russian leagues.

Spalletti closely mirrors what he had with Rafa but with a few adapted changes based on his experience. It has seemed to work well so far the Italian. He’s certainly had bigger challenges and we will look to have some competition for his signature but the lure of Liverpool may prove attractive. He’s had success in Italy and Russia with leagues, he’s experience of the Champions League and its later stages and there would be little work to adapt the academy. I think he would do well here.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 12:43:50 PM by lachesis »

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Re: Re: Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2012, 04:37:56 PM »
Andre Villas-Boas - The Moneyball Option.

When a product or an idea becomes ubiquitous (say, enough to warrant a film starring that Bradley Pitt and the fat one from Superbad) it often becomes the defacto term that encapsulates the underlying notion; ‘Google’ superseded ‘look it up on that internet they have now’, ‘Hoover’ supplanted ‘vacuum cleaner’ and ‘Minidisc’ replaced the future.

Metonymy, is the linguistic term for it.

Just as evolution (the what) and Darwinism (the how) are often confused as being the same thing, so Moneyball (the what) and statistics (the how) are oft mistaken as being no different;

One name that would have come up time and time again was that of Billy Beane. FSG were known advocates of Beane's system in Baseball 'Moneyball'. Put simply, 'Moneyball' is based around statistics and which individual's have the best stats. With that in mind, it didn't take a genius to work out why Liverpool's 'Director Of Football' Damien Comolli wanted to make Downing one of Liverpool's new summer recruits.

I've been working a way to definitively model/rubbish 'chances created' and whilst (on Wednesday evening) thinking about it's absurdity as a metric, a rather terrifying notion hit me - surely they wouldn't be so stupid?

Using the above to appoint a manager is not moneyball, it's idiotic and if this is the kind of thing that earns you $1bn, I'm off to buy some grits.

Fundamentally, Moneyball is about exploiting arbitrage via asymmetric information. In baseball this just so happened to take the form of statistics - “This fella throws like a twat/has a penchant for turning brasses faces into plasterers radios/left his wrist in papworth general, so he’s discounted by the market - however because of our informational (statistical) advantage we know he’s actually quite effective, ergo his value to us is far greater than it is to the market and we can exploit that fact.”

The utilisation of this kind of market arbitrage has been around in football for ages, we exploited the buck toothed Brazillian asymmetry between ourselves and Barcelona by signing Luis Garcia from them for a paltry £6m - Garcia went on to get us into the European Cup final as well as to score many other important goals during his time here. Benitez would later attempt the same thing with varying degrees of success with Mascherano (no Hayden Mullins), Johnson (robs toilet seats), Bellamy & Pennant (troublemakers), Maxi, Morientes & Figo (ageing big name players who were no longer wanted by their clubs) and depending on how you look at it – Crouch, a player booed by ingerlund fans for the mortal sin of looking a bit odd, but of course highly effective and someone I wish we could have held onto.

Huntelaar, Raul, van Nistelrooy, Sneijder, Stam, Ronaldinho, Robben, van der Vaart, Adebayor, Garay, Javi Garcia, Saviola and Bellamy are all recent-ish examples of this process in action – one club undervalues a player for whatever reason (usually age or that there’s a new, shinier toy in town) so another club takes advantage; Schalke basically rode Madrid all the way into the CL semi final behind it.

You don’t have to be particularly clever to figure out that on the whole last summer’s signings were the antithesis of this; players highly valued by their clubs at the time who were unlikely to be as important to Liverpool and whilst it’s fair to consider Coates a bargain in absolute terms, he was bought after he usurped the likes of Neymar, Ganso and Pato to win the young player of the tournament award at the Copa America, not ideal timing. This is, perhaps, what Werner was referring to when he said Comolli was “not the right person to implement that strategy” though that makes his initial hiring incredibly odd, seeing as his track record is typified by the 2011 summer window.

After taking over the reigns at (then, winless, bottom of the table) Académica in October of 2009 Villas-Boas steered them to a 11th placed finish and the semi finals of the league cup, at the end of the season he was linked with the vacant posts at Porto and Sporting Lisbon, we know the rest - an unbeaten league campaign coupled with an incredible 82% win rate (by comparison Guardiola’s average is 72.65%, different leagues certainly, but similar dynamics) saw Andre Villas-Boas' Porto side win four trophies in his first full season as a club manager, invariably he quickly became the Facebook IPO of managers – viewed as a young Mourinho sans twattishness, he was one of the most coveted names of the summer.

Porto of course are renowned for not getting bent over when it comes to any manner of transfers; the anti-Liverpool if you will (and you will). And so it was Abramovich who, undaunted by his hilariously disastrous £75m trip into the January transfer market decided to chance his arm again and in his infantile recklessness, discarded a manager with two European cups and two league titles to his name who had committed the sin of finishing second, for the summer’s must have accessory.

The price? Thirteen million pounds, plus almost the same again over the term of his contract.

Villas-Boas signings at Chelsea have been itemised by others, but for me, even more impressive are his deals at Porto - James Rodriguez, a player I would eat a dead aids cat for, signed for all of £4m from Banfield. Joao Moutinho for £8m, Nicolas Otamendi for £3m and Walter (who in terms of minutes has averaged somewhere around a goal a game during his time there) for £5m. Of course Porto can take advantage of the work permit situation as well as occupying prime footballing real estate - a major-ish club with a big history who have to fuck up pretty badly not to get into the champions league every year which gives them a rather large advantage over other European sides but it's certainly a major plus in his favour.

As Benitez tells us, football is a lie and we can only speculate on why it didn’t work out at Chelsea – two massively expensive strikers/statistical disasters foisted upon him as well as a £24m defender who can’t defend certainly didn't help, just as they didn't help Ancelotti who's Chelsea side looked like an unstoppable juggernaut in the first half of the season. Was it player power? In an inability to communicate his ideas? Regardless, I think it's potentially done us (or whoever gives him a job) a major favour - just as Madrid and City act as 'player launderers' (they go in overpriced and come out the other side 'clean') so too, Abramovich has laundered Villas-Boas; there's no eight figure buyout required and expectations are lowered (under promise, over deliver) particularly given the perception of di Matteo's job there.

Andre Villas-Boas is the Huntelaar/Sneijder of managers - Highly successful at one club, took a wrong turn and now someone who fades the market for him may well be very glad they did so.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2012, 06:08:40 PM by Acaustiq »
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Re: Re: Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2012, 05:24:09 PM »
My manlove for Jürgen Klopp has been well documented on and off this site. And on top of his qualities I think that our squad would be ideal to implement the system that he is using to such great effect in the Bundesliga (for the purposes of this post I'll just ignore the fact that continuing his efforts at building a dynasty at Dortmund is an infinitely more appealing project than modern Liverpool).

The foundations for the squad are more or less the same. They play with a sweeper keeper that pushes high up when the team is attacking and takes part in the build up play either by releasing the ball early or by being open for passing. The play with two center backs who like to hold a high line and play virtually the same game as Agger and Skrtel. With Hummels doing the same job as Agger of driving forward with the ball more often than not playing as a de facto holding midfielder when in possession. Schmelzer and Piszczek playing as Johnson-esque wingbacks. Then they have 2 midfielders in front of them, a combination of Sahin (now gone), Gündogan, Kehl and Bender. A diet version of Xabi and Masch if you will. Then a highly mobile 3 in front of them (consisting mainly of Götze, Kagawa, Kuba, Pericic and Grosskreutz)  and a "target man" up top in Lewandowski and before him Barrios.

Klopp has a reputation for being an excellent motivator and his record for implementing youth with experience is phenomenal as is his (or Dortmund's depends on how you view it) record for getting the best out of bargain players. To highlight the point of that the core of their league winning squad last season, Hummels, Subotic, Sahin, Götze, Kagawa, Lewandowski and Bender cost Dortmund the going rate for one Stewart Downing. His team plays exciting football with an emphasis on young players who will give everything they have for the team. There is no place for primadonnas and another example of how he's managed to implement that mentality of giving everything you can. Sven Bender approached Klopp at half-time and asked to be subbed off because he didn't feel like he could perform at the highest level in the 2nd half and didn't want to let the team down.

I also firmly believe that Klopp would get us. Watch any of their games or watch any youtube video and you'll see the passion in him and the pride as the crowd sings his name. I've written about this before and I'll post it again in a few days when I get the time but I'll just leave you with this. To me the epitomic Jürgen Klopp game.
<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

They never give up. They fight as a unit. They want to win. They'll do anything to do it. And you can see what it meant to them when they did.

And although it doesn't say much about his management style here's the manager of the year "montage" about him from last season.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 05:34:41 PM by Aristotle »
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Re: Lachesis' Guide to some potential managerial candidates .
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2012, 10:27:48 PM »
These are opening posts from Lachesis' excellent work to this thread for people to read about the potential candidates and sadly removed the other 102 pages...
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 10:29:28 PM by hinesy »

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Re: Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2012, 10:30:39 PM »
If he or any scribe or poster wants to add to it a similar in depth analysis of any other candidate, let me know and I'll unlock it for you. :wave

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Re: Which manager makes sense for Liverpool? (*)
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2012, 12:00:57 PM »

I thought it was worth looking at this in a different way – try a different perspective to get a better handle on what’s happening and why. Well, maybe a bit better than I currently do anyway. 

I’m not going to talk about KD or his sacking or the wrongs and rights of it because there’s other threads for that.

I’ve been struggling to keep up with the search for a new manager.  What threw me you see, was the reports of potential candidates declining the opportunity to even discuss the vacancy. 

All much happier where they are right now thanks very much. 

I’m going to ignore the faux rejection by Brendan Rodgers (who had even heard of him before this season?).  Not interested apparently, though that seems to be more of a strategy to not look too eager first up, and see what happens when the dust settles. No sense in being too desperate and then looking like a t*t when someone more high profile takes up the job.  Bet you he’s bought a new suit and polished his shoes and got a new haircut…just on the off chance like.  Waiting to see if everyone else rules themselves out and he’s the default option.  Smart.  Nowhere near ready for a job like this – I reckon he knows that too. He’s the equivalent of an apprentice applying to take over as head of department because he’s got good qualifications and people in the know reckon he’s going places.  Reality is he’s not been round long enough to have properly f***ed up and shown himself capable of knowing how to deal with and what to do about it.

What was more interesting was the response of two that fall into the high profile category - higher profile in terms of their standing and reputation in the world game.  Higher profile too in terms of having actually achieved something as a manager – something other than promotion from a lower league and avoiding relegation that is.

Jurgen Klopp – successive Bundesliga titles, league & cup double this year:
“I have been made aware of interest from England, and it is an honour to be linked with big clubs in the Premier League,” said Klopp.
“But I have a contract with Dortmund until 2016 and am going nowhere. I love it here and have no intention of changing clubs.”

Frank De Boer – successive Erividise titles
"I am honoured by the request but I am only just getting started with Ajax," De Boer told De Telegraaf. "In Amsterdam we are on a new path and, along with the club and Wim Jonk and Dennis Bergkamp, my colleagues in the technical heart, I want to bring good things. That's why I will stay loyal to Ajax in the coming years."

Similarities with these two – both young, successful, taken big clubs )in their country) at a low point and turned them into winners again.  Not just once, but twice.  In a row.  Bit like some Spanish fella used to manage us did before we hired him.

Both “honoured”, but not sufficiently to up sticks and take over at Anfield.  Both happy where they are – at successful, stable clubs in their own country.  They’ve been able to realize their own footballing vision with people they are happy working with.  Strong set ups from top to bottom.  The only reason they might want to move would be money or the challenge.  Things is, they both have a CL challenge they can get on with at their own clubs.  Harsh reality check here – we’re not a sufficiently big enough draw to tempt either of these two away from where they currently are. 

Then we’ve got the media favourite Martinez, expert at getting Wigan to play decent football for the last few games of a season to stop them getting relegated.  Wigan owner thinks he’s great, so great in fact, that he’s quite happy to tout him to Liverpool as soon as his name got a mention.  Got to be honest here and say that I don’t know an awful lot about him.  He’s got a great reputation.  He’s young. He might be the next big thing in football management and it could be a masterstroke to get him at the point when he’s ready to step into a bigger role.  Then again, it might not be and he’ll fold under the weight of expectation that egos of the players.

The experience of Rafa and Klopp is instructive here – both served an apprenticeship with a smaller club, before getting their chance at with a bigger hitter. 

Then there’s Villas Boas – golden boy of football management until his Chelsea experience tarnished his stellar reputation.  Very successful at Porto.  Currently unemployed.  Available.  Thing about this fella is just how inexperienced he is.  Success at Porto was based on one season.  Won the league by miles and then added a couple of cups.  How much of this was down to him and how much down to what was already I place there I don’t really know.  I suspect his lack of a football career, his youth and relative inexperience in dealing with the ego maelstrom that was the Chelsea dressing room was just too much for him.  He did give it a go mind, though his “project” appeared to fail on key points of not managing his stakeholders very well and not meeting his customers needs.  This lad might well be brilliant, but he’s still yet to learn the realities of leading in the big leagues.  I don’t doubt that he’s learned from the experience, but has that made him better and more determined to do better next time, or just more savvy about how to negotiate the terms of his next “project”. 

I don’t think the likes of Capello, Van Gaal or Ancellotti are realistic (or desirable for that matter).  Quite simply – far too expensive and too “old school” for the FSG profile.

The FSG profile appears to look something like this:
•   Young – no baggage, no history
•   Ambitious – being a driver for success (and failure too, but best not mention that unpalatable truth)
•   Flexible – willing to work within the new football structure with a technical & sporting director – partnership & collective being central to the FSG consensus approach.
•   Innovative – will need to be because he ain’t getting gazillions to spend on latest overpriced star names.
•   Affordable – we ain’t made of money you know. well we are but we’re not spending any of it.  You can spend what is available.  Sustainable innit?

Conscious I’m slipping into faceitious mode and trying not to.  Back on track – I think the key factors are ambition, flexibility & innovation.  They managers I’ve highlighted all fit that profile in different ways.  Ultimately, I think that’s what’s driving this recruitment process – whoever it is has to fit with the FSG vision for how this football club is going to be run over the next few years.  With that in mind, I think the flexibility element will be a gamebreaker – it’s simply not an option to refuse to play ball with that set up.

Innovation is what they’re looking for to give them a competitive advantage over the bigger spending competition. 

If we want to get a glimpse of how LFC will be run in future – then the set ups that De Boer & Klopp work with is it I think.

The op poses the question – who is the right manager for lfc?  The conclusion I’ve come to is that we don’t get to decide this one.  It’s more about which manager thinks that lfc is the right club for him.  Who wants it? Who is up for it (see ambition)? 

The game has changed in a lot of ways – most of all, in how it is run off the pitch. There was a time when all we had to do was ask and pretty much any manager would have jumped.   Reality is we’re not that big a draw these days, and not as attractive in terms of the European football landscape.  There’s better set ups at other clubs. Our new set up is just about to take shape.  They are looking for the right fit – rounded peg for the round hole they’ve got.

The days of the football autocrat are done I reckon.  The one man idol as football manager, spiritual leader and inspiration is consigned to history.  For now at least.  Corporate football is here and we’re in the hunt for our coach to work as part of the football executive committee. 

We’d best get used to it.