With the first match of Euro 2012 just around the corner, there's a few significant Liverpool notes to get to before we turn most of our attention to Poland and Ukraine. Most important is the reminder for folks who haven't to join in the Liverpool Offside group for ESPN's Euro Manager. Noel covered the details yesterday, but worth mentioning again for those late to the party that there's a chance to win absolutely nothing while exposing your weaknesses as a fantasy manager! Can't be worse than Jesus H. Hodgson, though, can you?
* The exit of Steve Clarke had been rumored since Kenny Dalglish was removed as manager, but there'd been no confirmation that the assistant coach would be moving on. He had been integral in the club's success after having been brought aboard to help Dalglish salvage the end of the 2010-2011 campaign, and was well thought-of by most despite a dip in performance over the most recent season gone by. There had been little talk about Kevin Keen's status, which wasn't surprising given the relatively anonymous presence he'd had while at Liverpool.
But today we learned that both would be moving on, with Ian Ayre discussing the help they'd given Dalglish in a fairly brief statement that confirmed neither would be part of Brendan Rodgers' backroom staff. Clarke's departure has immediately placed him in the running for the West Brom vacancy, and given his mostly successful run as an assistant at a range of English clubs, it'd be nice to see him get a chance at being in charge. Little mention of Keen's prospects, but it wouldn't be surprising for him to end up as an assistant somewhere in the top flight.
That leaves space for Rodgers to bring in staff of his own choosing, with Colin Pascoe, his former assistant at Swansea, sports science head Glen Driscoll, and Chris Davies, who was responsible for most of the opposition analysis under Rodgers, all linked with the move to Anfield.
* In other Rodgers-related news, we got sense of how Pepe Reina's feeling about the new manager's appointment earlier in the day, with the Spanish number two receptive to improvement and a change in approach:
"His team has played well this year with an ethos that I share and Liverpool is also known to play the passing game but it is easier said than done. Rodgers is welcomed and I am at his disposal. We have won a trophy this year but it is clear that in recent seasons we should have done better."
It's little suprise that the change in approach would suit Reina---Rodgers has mentioned on a number of occasions that his tactical approach includes 11 rather than 10 and a goalkeeper, which is why he was so keen to bring Michel Vorm to Swansea. Reina's active enough across the back, with a fair bit of unstructured wandering featuring heavily earlier in his Liverpool career. Rodgers' style promises more structure and freedom for Reina, which will hopefully be accompanied by an appointment for a new goalkeeping coach in the near future.
* Last bit also includes Brendan Rodgers, as the new Liverpool manager penned an open letter to Swansea supporters, thanking them for their role in the club's success and the way they treated him during his two-year managerial tenure, and also extending gratitude to Huw Jenkins, the South Wales media, his children's teachers, and pretty much anyone that was involved in his life over the last couple seasons.
"My aim for a legacy was simply to have made Swansea City Football Club an attacking and creative team who were enjoyable to watch, and to make the people of Swansea proud of their great club, city and nation. In the years ahead, you, the most important people at the club, will decide if I achieved those dreams, but the journey for me has been one I will never forget.
"We created history together to become the first Welsh club in the Premier League, and defied all the odds at the same time, and there is no doubt the club will continue to flourish in the coming years. I have made many friends and I want to thank them all for the support my family and I have received."
The full statement's worth a read, if for no other reason than to boost your opinion of the man that will be leading the club into next season and beyond. The brief excerpts do more than enough, though, to paint a picture of a man who settles in quickly and develops strong, loyal relationships, both with those directly involved in his work and those with whom he has a looser association.
I don't know that there's any negative opinions surrounding Brendan Rodgers at this point, and given the way he's conducted himself over the past few weeks, there certainly shouldn't be. There is skepticism, and he's encouraged as much. That'll remain until the focus shifts from boardrooms and press conferences to the pitch, but it'd be hard at this point to not feel at least a little optimistic about where Liverpool's headed, and the type of man that'll lead them.
That's it for today, and we'll be back with any other sort of important notes later on. Otherwise you can check back tomorrow as we kick off our Euro coverage, which will include notes from each matchday and a more in-depth focus on the Liverpool players involved. Which also means a more in-depth focus on *shudder* Roy Hodgson's England.
In the meantime, you can wait for Roy Hodgson to make juniper bushes appear (language NSFW).