It has been an intriguing last few weeks to be an LFC fan. After the sacking of legend Kenny Dalglish the club has been left in apparent turmoil. Many pundits and fans are asking FSG for a detailed statement of their intentions. Was it not that long ago that even Kenny said that all LFC dealings (operational and transfer related) would be held behind closed doors? I respect that FSG is not seeking council from fans and fan groups. Why should they? They have several advisors to ensure that they will make the best decision for LFC. I believe they want a mutually beneficial relationship providing profits for FSG and an on the pitch success, the basis of any type of capitalist endeavor.
Many names have been thrown about as the DOF (Director of Football), Sporting Director, etc. It is an unnerving time to be an LFC fan. I am however satisfied with FSG that they are approaching this with a pragmatic and practical search for a manager. They have been cited to have as many as 12 targets, which have been whittled down to about a handful as of today. Many LFC fans are already calling for FSG's heads. But do we not remember how our club was on the brink of administration and given new life by FSG. They appointed the face of the club as a short-term manager to right the ship. Lest we forget that Kenny had a £5M contract to get us to Champions League glory and he was given over £100M to field a new squad all his own. The first year of the experiment failed miserably. Let's face it, no UCL spot, barely made Europa (thank you Anthony Gerrard), horrible league form, bumbling of Suarez-gate, etc. I think we all realize that FSG made the decision they had to. A new manager was needed, one that can incorporate a tactically sound and attacking style of play.
Today, I turn your attention to Andres Villas-Boas. He had a rocky spell at Chelsea largely helped in part by a major rift between him and some of the senior players. AVB has not been portrayed as a player's manager. His dealings with his senior players were in fact one of the major breaking points. I am pulling a lot from Graham's excellent work at We Ain't Got No History (our CFC sister SBN site) they do excellent work over there. Graham feels that AVB tried to run roughshod over the likes of Terry, Lampard, Droggles, etc. Those core players were the catalyst for CFC's impressive run over the last decade or so. The chasm was just too wide. Certainly AVB has learned his lesson and will not take the job at LFC unless FSG will give him the latitude needed to assemble his club on his terms. This worries me a bit to be honest. But I also feel that our senior contingent is not as entrenched as what he walked into at CFC. Perhaps Pepe, Luis, Lucas, Stevie, Agger, and Skrtel can command an entrenched position in the starting XI for LFC. But as Kate Cohen points out in this awesome article Stevie can occupy the RCM role in AVB's 4-3-3 system. She also points out that Pepe and our defense are the perfect high line fit for AVB's preferred pressing game. Lucas is essentially the gate keeper of this system. He breaks down the opposition's attack and keeps the ball moving on the pitch. Luis can occupy the "Hulk" role filling gaps on the Right Wing. Left wing needs some attention and if Andy can continue his form then this system could flourish. Rumors are that AVB will ask for funds to get Falcao (£35M) and other past players during his Porto days. This is one definite up side from the other candidates named he can likely command many players to LFC that would otherwise pass. In saying all this I feel that AVB will attempt to land his own players and give our youth a chance to flourish.
Graham also cites his dealing with the media as a downfall of AVB. CFC provides an intense microscope for any manager much less one that has never had to deal with lack of success. An owner who is not afraid to sack managers the pressure must have been intense for AVB, much less having to deal with the awful UK media. Not to say that he will not have these pressures at LFC (especially after FSG sacking King Kenny) but his experiences at CFC will help him through this tough transition at LFC. There will be many fans that could be disappointed at his appointment should he be named as manager. This will be a different type of pressure as many CFC fans were anointing him as the special one part two due to his immediate success at Porto (Europa champions, league champs, etc). If AVB is given the time to develop his project and has the backing of FSG they could do very well together, especially with the appointment of a good DOF.
LFC fans should feel fortunate if we can land AVB given the supposed turmoil that we are in (media spin, not mine). He would provide a true tactician, something that we at LFC have not had since our Rafa days. Please see this detailed set of game notes from AVB's time at CFC with Jose Mourinho if you are in doubt of his tactical brilliance. Also, see this article written by Graham who's tactical genius definitely surpasses my remedial knowledge of the beautiful game. So what could we ultimately get with AVB: We get a young, talented, committed (rumors of Japanese pod style bed in his office), energetic winner. AVB's agent has already said that he is taking a pragmatic and slow approach to any offers that he receives. I truly hope that FSG and AVB can agree to terms and that fans will be patient with his project if given the chance. To me AVB stands out head and shoulders above the rest of the current candidates.
Please see these awesome articles from WAGNH for further AVB fodder: