Belfast Telegraph

Anfield owners tell manager Brendan Rodgers to carry on

By Ian Herbert

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been given the responsibility of restoring Liverpool's fortunes next season, after agreeing a substantial new plan which the club's owners are satisfied can re-establish Champions League status.

Rodgers went into his meeting with chairman Tom Werner and Fenway Sports Group President Michael Gordon secure in the knowledge that the volume of public discussion surrounding his future did not equate to his job being on the line.

There was an agreement in the two-hour meeting in Liverpool that the outcome of the 2014-15 campaign had not been good enough and Rodgers has also signed up to plans which have been laid for an improvement.

The discussions on the subject of first-team football were said to have been "productive."

Quite how radical those plans are remains unclear. It is also still unclear whether the transfer committee which has sanctioned expensive signings will remain its current form.

It is possible that two members of the club's head of recruitment Dave Fallows and Michael Edwards, the director of performance analysis - may carry the can for the last season.

Their statistically driven approach to recruitment has been a key factor in a transfer market strategy which saw the club spend £110m last summer on players who have not materially improved the squad.

Gordon, managing director Ian Ayre and Rodgers also make up the transfer committee.

Rodgers will not have anywhere near the same amount of money to spend as that splurge was bankrolled largely by the £75m sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona so the club must be more canny in their recruitment.

Possible changes to the way Liverpool go about the new season may also include the recruitment of an experienced individual to work alongside Rodgers.

It could be argued that those in his own management team are acolytes and that he could be challenged more.

The pressure will certainly be on Rodgers like never before when the new campaign begins, as he finds himself required to take the club back into the top four.

The progress Liverpool have made in securing the services of James Milner have pointed to the security of the manager's position.

Milner, whose signing is likely to be announced after his Manchester City contact expires on June 30, has been attracted on substantially lower wages than the £165,000 he was being offered at Manchester City.

Though the central midfield role available after Steven Gerrard's departure is attractive, he is likely to have wanted assurances about Rodgers' continued presence at the club before entering into detailed contract discussions.

The signing of Burnley's Danny Ings - something Liverpool have been very confident about since January - now imminent. Liverpool will also try to sign Aston Villa's Christian Benteke and Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne.

Discussions with Milner, available on a free transfer, are believed to be at an advanced stage, but the situation with Ings is slightly more complicated as his age, 22, means Burnley are entitled to compensation.

Unless Liverpool can strike a deal with the Clarets then the value of the England Under-21 international will be decided by a tribunal.

It was widely expected to be within the £4m to £6m bracket but late interest from Tottenham, with a reported £12m bid, may yet inflate that price.

Milner's arrival marks a departure from FSG's preferred policy of recruiting young, potential talent, as he is 29, but the side are in desperate need of some experience in midfield with Steven Gerrard leaving for Los Angeles Galaxy.

Werner's presence in Liverpool was part of the regular post-season review with the manager.

He is also examining Anfield stadium redevelopment work as well as work at the club's academy.

Belfast Telegraph


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