The Magpies are seeking to embark on a new era under a different tactician.
Among the list of changes expected at St. James Park after the Saudi-led PIF’s takeover, managerial change ranks at the top. Newcastle United’s struggles have been accentuated in recent days, which has become the catalyst for a fresh start. Steve Bruce on October 20, quit the position as head coach of the club by mutual consent.
That eventually brings us to a question that is inevitable in many ways. Considering the new management is willing to bring some premium signings, the quest for a new manager has also intensified. To manage a project that is headed towards a long-term restoration, a manager with Premier League success and experience would be ideal.
Searching for a well-rounded CV and a strong recent track record, the name of Brendan Rodgers has started to circle around. The Leicester City boss has expressed his full commitment to the Foxes. However, let’s see the factors that make him the perfect candidate to take on the baton.
The matching profile
As of yet, Newcastle United are a club that are mid-table at best. Them lying in the relegation zone is a concern of its own. As the saying goes in England, clubs in the relegation zone require managers with experience of dealing with clubs in similar situations. Brendan Rodgers, in this case, can use his expertise. The Northern Irishman has already had experience working in a similar situation at Watford and Swansea.
However, it is not the only factor that makes his resume outstanding. Rodgers has had experience in managing big sides, the likes of Celtic, Liverpool, and now Leicester. With limited resources, Rodgers laid the foundation for Jurgen Klopp to form a dominant Liverpool side. After Liverpool, Rodgers’ spell at Celtic was successful as well. He won the Scottish league twice. Newcastle United, following the Saudi takeover have aspirations to dominate the Premier League and Rodgers might just be able to do so.
His ability to manage sides that have lied in both halves of the table might be what puts him ahead of the other candidates.
A manager who can lead the resurgence
After Leicester City’s heroic 2015/16 season, queries were on whether the Foxes would continue to be a top-class side. In the later years, repeating the success seemed highly unlikely. Losing players like Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante did not help either. When the offer came to Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic boss at the time, Leicester were dipping in form. However, under Rodgers the Foxes have managed to maintain their status as one of the top six sides in the Premier League in recent years. They also clinched the FA Cup in 2021.
Not only have Leicester resurged with Brendan Rodgers and avoided their dip, but they’ve also been fairly consistent in the time period. Provided a long-term project is given, which is exactly what is expected at Newcastle, the 2013/14 Manager of the Year can lead them to consistently good results.
Leicester have been able to punch up their weight and compete with the top clubs for half a decade now. Leicester have managed to outperform Tottenham and Arsenal in the points table, and have competed with Manchester United for the most part of their campaign. Pushing up is what the Magpies might exactly be wanting to do, and to do it consistently, Brendan Rodgers is the fitting profile to lead them.
Brendan Rodgers had a similar spell at Swansea and got promoted to the Premier League during his reign. He managed to clinch 43 wins in 96 games and peak the Welsh side’s performances. He even managed to win the League Cup with Swansea City in 2013. His feats with the Swans should give the new Newcastle owners much-needed confidence. Similarly, Celtic’s run in the Brendan Rodgers era was also a commendable period.
How compatible is Rodgers tactically?
When the tactician made his way to Leicester, he was presented with resources that fit his style of play. Leicester now play a 4-2-3-1, with Youri Tielemans coupled with Wilfred Ndidi in the double pivot. Tielemans, a deep-lying playmaker, was later brought to the side. Yet, the core of the side remains to be the one that Rodgers had from the beginning. Leicester, for their brand, had players that would come off the bench and fit in the coach’s tactics. In fact, players like James Justin rising up to the occasion, filling other players’ shoes displays that.
At Newcastle, however, that is not quite the case. The squad lacks a flair in the midfield, and most of what is created passes through Allan Saint-Maximin. Setting up in a defensive 5-3-2, lack of verticality, and those who can play that way is clearly visible. It is highly unlikely for the Magpies to spend all out in the winter, no matter how rich their new owners are. Hence, for Rodgers to come and adapt like a puzzle piece, tactically appears to be more difficult than easy.
Rodgers’ big game results: a concern?
No matter how good of a manager you are, it all comes down to clutch moments when as far as the owners are concerned. Managing Leicester, the former Reading manager has pulled off some incredible feats. However, his big game results, or let’s say the results towards the end of the season appear worrying. Add the pressure of delivering at Newcastle, and you get an even more complicated scenario.
With the fanbase and the new aspirations, Rodgers will have a different situation if he lands at St. James’ Park. Although Newcastle have been a mere midtable side at their best in the recent years, change of hands will bring in expectations. For them to resurge, a long-term step-by-step project is what it takes. For that, the side has to concentrate on avoiding relegation for now and then target the midtable season next, and so on before aiming a European spot. Failing to capitalize on the end phase of the season, especially in the state that they are in, is a huge failure.
With Rodgers’ track record and the added pressure of the new job, it seems a little worrying. It is, however, possible that he changes the tides to better things and as things stand, the Northern Irish is concentrated on his time with the Foxes.