Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Brendan Rodgers is heir to Bill Shankly's Liverpool crown

Brendan is the man with the plan but Moyes hasn't got a clue

Ups and downs: David Moyes had no answer to the tactical nous of Brendan Rodgers at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is hoping to lift the Premier League trophy in May

THE Liverpool fans have a catchy new song for their manager. Hardly big news, but the lyrics show how far the Northern Ireland man has come in a short space of time.

Brendan... Rodgers Brendan... Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool

We're on our way to glory

Built the team like Shankly did

And kids will have a story (To the tune of Yankee Doodle went to town)

 

At this stage in his first season, the name of Brendan Rodgers reverberating around the Kop was the exception rather than the rule.

One year on at Old Trafford on Sunday, the Carnlough native was being compared to Bill Shankly in song with jubilant Liverpool supporters loudly predicting a glorious future under the 41-year-old.

If Manchester United perform as badly against Olympiakos in the Champions League tomorrow night as they did in their embarrassing 3-0 Premier League trouncing by Liverpool, David Moyes might hear a new track relating to him too.

"You're getting sacked in the morning...." from a frustrated Stretford End finally losing patience with Sir Alex Ferguson's successor!

You can lose football matches, as Moyes has done several times since leaving the safe and less demanding haven of Everton, but when you are Manchester United you can't lose the way they did to Liverpool.

United weren't just beaten, they were battered. Dismantled on the pitch and destroyed off it.

Rodgers was a man with a plan. Moyes did not appear to have a clue.

Five minutes in it was clear to see that Rodgers had outwitted his rival.

The Liverpool boss made the cunning move to play quicksilver Raheem Sterling at the top of a midfield diamond formation, supporting striking gems Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

With United's defence so slow, so deep and so fearful of the pace of Liverpool's front two, Sterling had the space to wreak havoc, offering the visitors greater danger in attack with Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen willing runners from behind and Steven Gerrard (right), in a deep role, controlling the tempo and the contest.

The home back four plus middle men Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellani didn't know whether they were coming or going.

When United had the ball, the energy of Henderson and Allen in wide areas, combined with Sterling dropping back to help his team-mates outnumber the opposition and retrieve possession quickly, ensured the Red Devils never built up a head of steam.

The decision of Rodgers to swap his full-backs also delivered with Glen Johnson dealing easily with the directness of youngster Adnan Januzaj and Jon Flanagan comfortably handling Juan Mata, who was given no time to shine.

Rodgers could have lit up a cigar like Hannibal in the A-Team saying 'I love it when a plan comes together'.

Moyes should have switched his formation or personnel early on to counteract the problem, but incredibly United's first substitution came on 76 minutes with Liverpool already 2-0 ahead through Gerrard's penalty double. The game was over by then.

Moyes looked dazed on the touchline, Rodgers dynamic.

Like Liverpool he's on the top of his game right now.

The Anfield club are second in the four horse title race and host contenders Chelsea and Manchester City in April. Liverpool, in this form, could make fools of them both.

Rodgers, assured and full of self belief, will relish the challenge.

While the United team still wonder what Moyes's footballing philosophy is, every Liverpool player now trusts in the Rodgers way, none more so than Gerrard who wants to see his manager rewarded with a contract extension, knowing eyes across Europe are watching county Antrim's finest.

Barcelona were linked with fluent Spanish speaker Rodgers at the weekend. Such a suggestion is not as fanciful as it seems.

Poor old Moyes might end up at Barnsley at this rate.

Tactically astute, Rodgers always articulates his ideas expertly in the media. In person the leader of the Reds revolution is even more impressive.

Gerrard, who has worked for numerous bosses at club and international level, says Rodgers is better than any of them, admitting he has been 'blown away' by the manager's training sessions.

The 33-year-old midfielder said: "He manages every single player. He knows we have different characters in the dressing room. His one-on-one management is the best I have known. He makes you go out on to the pitch feeling a million dollars, full of confidence and belief.

"When you play for Liverpool you have to accept pressure, take it on the chin and perform, but when you have a manager who is making you feel good and who is not scared of giving you a good one-to-one telling off as well he has the perfect ingredients.

"He has been a revelation. He keeps tinkering and tweaking formations, making little changes to personnel and pulls it off.

"He is a young coach who has earned the right to become Liverpool manager and from week to week he is improving. He has been a breath of fresh air to this club."

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