Brendan Rodgers: The Players Perspective

Posted by Mr Dilkington on July 31, 2012, 05:09:45 PM

One of the best things about fan forums, and Rawk in particular, is the chance to interact with fellow Liverpool fans all across the globe. Some of the most knowledgeable stuff I've ever read on the game has come from this very place. Whether it be an article or just your every day post. I've indulged in a little bit of writing in the past myself, but I never consider myself to be particularly good at it. However, I enjoy the process - so it works for me.

Now though, I genuinely feel as though this is the first time I've been able to give something back to the Rawk community, and hopefully out-with Rawk too.

Since Brendan Rodgers took over at Liverpool, the thirst from the fans to learn as much about his methods has really stood out. Luckily, I was able to speak to a man who's had first hand experience of working with the new gaffer. At Watford, Brendan Rodgers signed the then Inverness Caley Thistle player Don Cowie for a modest fee. Here is the thoughts of Don on what we can expect in the coming months, and hopefully years.

What kind of work was involved in a typical training session from Rodgers and how did he manage to keep it fresh?

His training is all about keeping possession....winning the ball back from the opposition as quickly as possible....It's always for a short period of time but at a very high tempo.

How much interest did he take in the Academy and did the younger players at Watford often train with the first team?

Age was never an issue at Watford. If you were good enough you would play. An example of this was he played an 18 year old centre midfielder every week in Ross Jenkins.

Did you do a lot of work on set pieces during training?

While training was taking place the manager would withdraw certain penalty and free kick takers away to work on their technique. He always tried to be creative with them.

Would you describe Rodgers as a hands on manager. Did he interact with the squad closely or did he delegate to his assistant/coaches and take more of a back seat?

Yes, he was very approachable, you never uncomfortable around him...he's a very enthusiastic man who makes you feel very confident in yourself.

Did he talk about other clubs philosophies a lot, I.e Barcelona or Ajax?

Everything was about Barcelona and their style of play. He went to watch them on a few occasions...he used to tell me to watch Xavi and Iniesta to learn how to play the role in the team that they do as he planned to use their formation the next season...unfortunately he left to go to Reading.

Would you say there was one aspect of your game in particular that Rodgers improved?

He always talks about being calm on the ball. He wants you to work at a high intensity, to win the ball... but once you get it be relaxed and calm in possession. I felt that I improved that aspect of my game! He gave me the belief in myself that I could become a better player every day I came into training.

When you arrived at the Watford they were in and around the relegation zone. Rodgers managed just two wins in his first ten games... was he always very positive and was there anything specific he did that initiated your climb up the table?

He's always positive. In my time working with him we were very successful and he liked to keep the same team and I think once we starting winning week in week out our confidence and belief grew.

When the teams form did pick up, the 11 picked didn't change all that often, was there any signs of disharmony amongst those who weren't playing week in week out?

I think a few were annoyed but when a team is winning you just need to be patient and wait for your chance. He never made the non starters feel not a part of it. It was always about the squad. Another positive was whether you were the best player in the team or someone who rarely made the squad of 16 - he treated everyone equal.

What formation did you usually play and was it adaptable during the game?

He liked playing a 4 - 2 - 3 - 1 and if we were winning he would keep it but if things weren't working out he's quite happy to try something different to get back in a game.

You played right midfield mostly (from memory anyway, correct me if I'm wrong!) and also as a centre midfielder. What did he ask of you when playing both roles? At Swansea, one of the things Joe Allen and Leon Britton did with great success was passing the ball as quickly as they could and with as few touches as possible. Was it the same at Watford?

I played mostly left midfield. He wanted me to tuck in as we played an out and out winger on the right hand side, but he also gave us the freedom to swap if we wanted during a game. The key thing was to never be caught dwelling on the ball. Also, It was never passing for the sake of passing. He always wanted the players to be positive with it and to try and affect the game.

It's half time and you're losing quite heavily. The team aren't playing very well - what's the typical reaction?

The time I remember was away to Charlton. We were losing 2-1 and they were bottom of the league. He was very calm but also angry as he knew we should of been beating them. He told us if we play the way we can we would win the game - he was right, we won 3-2 and it was a massive result to get us away from the relegation zone.

There's an assumption that British players are less inclined to buy into a more 'European style' type of game. Would you go along with that as a general point?

I think it depends on how the manager tries to feed the style to the team. Brendan is very enthusiastic and makes you feel very confident in yourself. He makes you believe you can achieve what he's asking of you. His management style is very balanced.

Did he make you a better player?

Definitely. I will always be grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to come to England and he has given me so much belief. We still keep in contact and text now and again, which is nice knowing if I need advice I can speak to him. The fact I have received 10 International caps since working with Brendan is no coincidence in my opinion.

And finally... do you think he has what it takes to become a successful Liverpool manager?

Being a Liverpool supporter myself, I'm very excited with him being manager. I'm not sure if it will happen instantly but I believe given time he will be a huge success. His style of play will excite the Liverpool supporters. It will take time, but eventually I think Liverpool can be a threat at the top of the table, although it will be tough in such a competitive League.

I'd like to thank Don for taking time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule to help me out with this, and I hope everyone who reads this can take at least one new or interesting thing from it.

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