LIVERPOOL, England, June 1 – Brendan Rodgers said he aimed to bring the glory days back to Liverpool after being appointed the new manager of the former kings of Engish football.
It is more than 20 years since Liverpool were last crowned champions of England, with the Merseysiders rarely challenging for the title in the intervening decades.
To make matters worse, it is arch-rivals Manchester United who have become the dominant force in English football, while Liverpool have also been overtaken by big-spenders Chelsea, the reigining Champions League holders, and current Premier League champions Manchester City.
But former Swansea manager Rodgers said Liverpool’s illustrious past, which includes five European Cups, was an inspiration and not a burden.
“That was the attraction, the history of the club,” Rodgers told a news conference here on Friday.
“Also the frustration. It has been over 20 years since they won the title. We might not be ready for the title but the process begins today, it’s a new cycle, and that is something that we will work towards in the years to come.”
The 39-year-old Northern Irishman succeeds Anfield great Kenny Dalglish, who was sacked last month after his second spell in charge ended with Liverpool finishing the season a massive 37 points behind Manchester City.
“I’m blessed to be given this opportunity,” said Rodgers, who spent two years in charge of Swansea, guiding the Welsh club into the Premier League and last season securing an 11th place finish for the newly promoted side.
The Merseyside club’s American owners the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) had given Dalglish more than £100 million (159 million dollars) to spend in the transfer market since he took over from the sacked Roy Hodgson, now in charge of England, in 2011.
But expensive signings such as Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam have largely flopped, with Liverpool’s eighth place finish their worst season-ending position for nearly two decades, although they did win the League Cup and were beaten finalists in the FA Cup.
“I want to thank John Henry (Liverpool’s principal owner), Tom Werner (chairman) and FSG for the opportunity to manage such a great club,” said Rodgers, whose Swansea side took four points off Liverpoool last term, including a 1-0 home win on the final day of the season.
“I’m really excited and I can’t wait to get started on this incredible project going forward. I promise to dedicate my life to fight for this club and defend the great principles of Liverpool Football Club on and off the field.”
Rodgers saw off competition for the post from Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and initially rejected Liverpool when he feared he was merely being included in a ‘beauty parade’ of candidates without being in pole position.
However, Rodgers said: “Once I had found out I was the number one target from the important people at Liverpool it was quite an easy decision.”
Rodgers started as a reserve team coach at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho and previously had spells as a manager at Watford, Reading and Swansea.
He insisted though he was ready to take charge of a ‘big’ club.
“My pathway as a young coach has been different to most managers,” he said.
“I have actually been coaching and working in football for 20 years. At Chelsea I had experience of working with big players.
“I look at Kenny Dalglish, he was the manager (of Liverpool in 1985) at 34 and resigned at 39. I arrive here at 39.”
Henry said: “Brendan’s comprehensive football philosophy is perfectly aligned with those at the club and those soon to join the club. He was the first choice unanimously among them and he had no hesitation at all in embracing exactly what we want to try to build at Liverpool.”
The Merseysiders won the last of their 18 English titles in 1990 and Henry added: “We do not expect miracles overnight nor should anyone else.
“But we firmly believe that the direction the club is heading in will lead to Premier League championships.”