LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND (AP) - New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers conceded he’ll have to earn respect at Anfield after being plucked from relative obscurity Friday following a successful spell at fellow English Premier League team Swansea.
In arguably the most low-key managerial appointment the fallen giant of English sports has made in a generation, the 39-year-old Rodgers beat out Wigan manager Roberto Martinez despite having only one season of experience in England’s top division.
That year, however, proved to be a highly successful one, with Swansea finishing 11th in its first season in the Premier League and earning plenty of admirers because of the Welsh team’s attractive, possession-based style of play.
The Northern Irishman had a limited player career at home before embarking on a coaching career, becoming manager of the Reading academy at just 22.
“I was never the big player … I had to go down a different route which was on the coaching field and earning my respect that way,” Rodgers said.
“Hopefully over time I’ll earn … respect (at Liverpool),” he added.
Rodgers will be charged with improving Liverpool’s fortunes in the league after a disappointing eighth-place finish that was sealed by a 1-0 loss to Swansea on the final day of the season.
The 18-time English champions’ lowest league placing in 18 years saw them finish 17 points shy of qualifying for a Champions League spot, the minimum goal of the club’s American owners.
That led to the firing of club great Kenny Dalglish, who won the League Cup to end a six-year trophy drought at Anfield.
Fenway Sports Group targeted the hiring of a young manager to replace Dalglish and also held talks with Martinez. But it decided on Rodgers, who was once a youth-team manager at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho and has also managed second-tier clubs Watford and Reading.
“My pathway as a young coach has been different to most managers,” Rodgers 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.”
Rodgers said his soccer philosophy “has been a fusion between the British and the European.”
“The single biggest influence would be Jose Mourinho, purely because he gave me the opportunity,” he said. “I learned many things from Jose. He is a great man and the biggest thing he did for me is give me an opportunity and show belief in me, and give me that chance to work with top players.”
Qualifying Liverpool for the Champions League will be Rodgers‘ first task, with the ultimate aim being a 19th English title to match the record haul of bitter rival Manchester United.