Belfast Telegraph

Wembley woe turns heat on Brendan Rodgers again

By Steven Beacom: The verdict

No big Wembley birthday bash and fitting FA Cup final farewell for Steven Gerrard then. No trophy for Brendan Rodgers either.

The Ulsterman now has an unwanted place in Liverpool history. Ever since Bill Shankly took charge of the club in 1959, up until the arrival of Rodgers, every Anfield manager claimed silverware in their first three seasons, bar Roy Hodgson and he only lasted six months!

Rodgers may have gone close; second in the Premier League last season and semi-finalists in both cup competitions this time around, but that was of little consolation to Liverpool fans at Wembley yesterday.

Referee Michael Oliver hadn't finished blowing his final whistle, signalling Aston Villa's deserved 2-1 victory, before angry Reds supporters were rushing on to radio phone-ins, social media and into pubs calling for the the Carnlough native's head.

Jurgen Klopp was mentioned as a possible replacement. Obvious really, he's highly rated and available after departing Borussia Dortmund last week.

Also cropping up was the name of former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, who is leaving Napoli at the end of the season.

Klopp and Benitez on the scene.... that's all Rodgers needs after what was an alarmingly poor performance against an inspired Villa outfit.

In goalscorers Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph, as well as impressive teenager Jack Grealish, Villa had the three outstanding performers on the pitch. Tim Sherwood's other players produced too.

In contrast not one Liverpool player delivered. From Raheem Sterling to Jordan Henderson they all failed to shine. Philippe Coutinho, the new 'go to' man for Rodgers, may have opened the scoring with a deflected effort, but his influence was limited after that.

Even Gerrard, returning to action from suspension, couldn't summon one last superhero show to save the day. Playing his first full game in months, and as it turned out his last at Wembley, the semi largely passed him by.

If he is to win another trophy it will be with LA Galaxy.

Many will be wondering if Rodgers can win one at all at Liverpool, or if the chance was lost with Luis Suarez's move to Barcelona last summer

Yesterday Rodgers tried different formations, but none worked with Liverpool unable to match the intensity, quality and belief of their opponents.

Bad day for Liverpool. Bad day for Brendan. The heat was on him earlier in the season when Liverpool were on a shocking run. It'll be back now.

A season that promised much is fast becoming a disheartening one. There will be no trophy to cheer, Champions League football next terms is highly unlikely and very few of the summer signings have lived up to billing. No wonder some Kopites are saying the side has gone backwards.

Despite all that it would still be a surprise if the American owners ditched Rodgers in May. The manager should remain in the hotseat. He will know, though, that the first six months of next term is vital for him and his Liverpool future.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph