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An Exercise in Patience

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rodgers dalglish

The weeks that have passed since Kenny Dalglish was dismissed from his role as manager have been filled with anxiety, mostly brought about by the fact that all we've done---and really all we can do---is wait. We waited to hear for the details of Dalglish's firing (which we never got), we waited to hear what sort of plan the owners were executing in their search for a new manager and Sporting Director (which we never got), and now, with Brendan Rodgers all but appointed, we're still waiting for the club to officially confirm that he's the next Liverpool manager.

What's an even bigger pain in the ass is that there's plenty more waiting on the horizon, with Euro 2012 kicking off in a few days and taking up most of the attention for a solid month. Then there's vacation for those taking part in the competition, which, with Jordan Henderson a very likely member of the England squad after Frank Lampard picked up a thigh injury that could rule him out of the competition, is a significant number. Then there's preseason training and friendlies, then there's lots of talk about goals, and then, roughly two and a half months from now, we'll finally see Liverpool back in action when it matters.

But that's the case in most seasons---at the least the part about having to slog through the summer months to get back to proper football. There's the likelihood that this offseason will be particularly excruciating, though, with the promise that in many ways, both on and off the pitch, Liverpool will look very different than they have in seasons gone by.

That much was clear when Damien Comolli was fired in April, paving the way for turnover in a range of areas. The manager and Sporting Director/Director of Football roles have received most of the attention, and rightly so. They're the ones likely to have the biggest impact on what the actual football looks like, and while there's been strong links for the latter, the impending confirmation of Brendan Rodgers has been the closest we've come to having an idea of what the "ground zero" Liverpool will look like.

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Rodgers' history doesn't need to be re-hashed, and neither does his footballing philosophy. As Noel discussed yesterday, he's confident in his approach and has a distinct style that he'll try to implement at Liverpool, whether or not there's wholesale changes in the squad. Nate over at ohyoubeauty has already done some of the leg work to see how the current personnel could fit---as he acknowledges, it's not perfect, but there's indications that many are adaptable enough to see Rodgers' style take hold fairly quickly. Most of us would like changes, and with Tom Werner alluding to improvements in the summer, it wouldn't be surprising if there were a few new faces to go along with others on the way out.

The problem doesn't really lie with Rodgers or his style or the fact that Liverpool will need to adapt to something very different from what they've done in the recent past, though. One of the biggest problems for most is that he's not Kenny Dalglish, and that there shouldn't be a need for a new system to be implemented because Dalglish wasn't given enough time. I'm not entirely in disagreement with that, as we've previously discussed. Both logically and emotionally, things didn't add up perfectly, and it's still fairly surreal that we're talking about Brendan Rodgers replacing Kenny Dalglish.

However, there's irony in the fact that many in the "Daliglish wasn't given enough time crowd" have now shifted to laying the groundwork for Rodgers to not really be given much time, with some turning his possession-based approach into a weakness, that somehow Liverpool will hold too much of the ball and the supporters will be upset. There was a feeling that Dalglish had a different, longer-term vision for the club, and that he wasn't given enough time to see it through, and that by some strange logic, Rodgers should now be held to that same standard. That doesn't seen right, and it probably never will.

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But to expect Rodgers to fail before he's even officially appointed, especially because of many things he can't control---he's not Dalglish, he's young, he doesn't have much top flight experience, wears too many suits---reeks of hypocrisy. There's no joy in seeing a Liverpool manager fail, because that means Liverpool have done poorly. What satisfaction is there in "told you so" when what you've predicted was that a club we all care about will suffer?

This isn't to say that he's the perfect choice, or that Liverpool will instantly turn things around. The latter's optimistic but almost certainly a bridge too far, and the former's a fact. There is no perfect manager, and there never was going to be one. As with anyone, there's much to be hopeful about, and there's much to question.

I'm not completely sold on Rodgers, and I wouldn't expect anybody else is either. As the fourth Liverpool manager in four seasons, he's got some serious work to do. But there's promising signs and a chance that he could experience success with the club, so long as he's afforded the confidence---as cautious and skeptical as it might be---of Liverpool supporters, and the opportunity to see his vision through.

Which will, of course, require both time and patience.