• Premier League

Rodgers killed off Liverpool link with Van Gaal

ESPN staff
August 4, 2014
ESPN FC previews the International Champions Cup final between Manchester United and Liverpool

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he has no regrets about turning down the chance to work with a director of football after Anfield chiefs considered bringing in Louis van Gaal.

Rodgers will face the Dutchman for the first time when his side meets Manchester United in the final of the International Champions Cup in Miami on Monday - the clubs' last match of the US tour.

But Van Gaal, who was in charge of the Netherlands before starting at United this summer, could have been working at Liverpool had things worked out differently two years ago.

Van Gaal was interviewed by Liverpool in May 2012, shortly after the club had sacked Kenny Dalglish and were considering the appointment of a director of football to work with a young coach.

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But Rodgers, who has made clear he was not told Van Gaal was in the running for the job, convinced owner John Henry that he could prosper without any senior figure above him if he got the manager's job - which he did.

He told Henry that having a director of football had hampered him at Reading, where he was sacked after just six months in charge in December 2009, and that he would not work in such a structure at Anfield.

"I'm not sure how many people the club spoke to but certainly for me coming in, I was always going to work with a team of people, rather than for a director of football," Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo.

"I always think the manager is the technical director. He is the man who oversees the football development of the club, and I believe you should take on that responsibility when you are manager.

"I work best whenever I have clear communication lines with owners.

"My only failure - if you can call it that - was when I had something in between at Reading, which was when I had a director of football.

"One of my strengths is to communicate upwards, and if I can't do that, or if the message is watered down, then I don't work the same.

"For me it was important that when I came in that I didn't want those lines blocked.

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"It's not that I can never work with one. But I felt it was important, with all the work that needed to be done, and the size of the job I took on, that I needed to have the full responsibility in order to do that job. And I think the owners backed that."

Van Gaal, who won the Champions League as coach of Ajax in 1995, has earned league titles in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany during his managerial career.

The closest link between the him and Rodgers managers is Chelsea's Jose Mourinho. Rodgers worked as youth and reserve team coach during Mourinho's first spell in charge at Chelsea, between 2004 and 2007, while the Portuguese coach worked under Van Gaal at Barcelona in the late 1990s.

"I've never met Louis van Gaal before but obviously I know of him through Jose Mourinho. I know he was instrumental in mentoring Jose at Barcelona," Rodgers added.

"I'm aware of the methods, I'm aware of how he works, and obviously he's had a very good career.

"He's a very experienced manager, a very good manager and he's gone into them, and he'll look to make his mark.

"I'm very much into the tactics of the game and I am looking forward to it in that respect.

"We played a variety of systems last season that worked well for us, and Louis has come in and adopted the 3-5-2.

"He obviously had success at the World Cup with that, and is looking to roll it out at Manchester United, so yeah, it's not what you'd call two standard systems or two standard coaches, it's two coaches who are thinkers of the game.

"Obviously he has far greater experience than I have, and been around for so many years. But I have learned from the best, and that is what I have always done."

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