Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers facing crunch talks with Liverpool chiefs

By Steven Beacom

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is set to face a crunch meeting with chairman Tom Werner tomorrow when the Ulsterman’s future at the club should be decided.

American Werner, co-owner of Liverpool, is due to arrive in Merseyside today and as part of an end of season review will talk to Rodgers on Wednesday about what turned into an underwhelming campaign.

Liverpool finished sixth in the Premier League, missing out on Champions League qualification, and were beaten in the FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals.

Disappointed by that, Liverpool fans were left fuming when their team was humiliated 6-1 at Stoke in the final match of the season, leadin to many calling for the manager to be sacked.

Rodgers said after that game “if the owners want me to go I will go’, but the Carnlough native is keen to continue the job he started in 2012 and believes he still has much to offer the Anfield outfit, confident that his experiences of the last 12 months can make him a stronger boss.

Since that hammering at Stoke, the club have insisted that the manager’s position was not under threat, but given the feelings of some supporters, Rodgers will enter the meeting with Werner with no guarantees.

The meeting will also be attended by Mike Gordon, regarded as a highly influential figure in the Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the company which owns the club.

Gordon is spearheading the review, which will assess a season to forget for the Reds.

It is all a far cry from the campaign before when Rodgers was being lauded for almost inspiring Liverpool to their first league title since 1990, with the team playing the most attractive football since the late 80s when the Anfield side were the dominant force in the English game.

Rodgers was handed a new and improved four-year contract 12 months ago with the American owners feeling he was the man to guide Liverpool to glory in the future.

It would be a big call to ditch him now, and Daniel Sturridge’s injury problems and the contract controversy surrounding Raheem Sterling will be taken into account in the review, but FSG will also be aware of the unease amongst a section of the support about having Rodgers at the helm.

One of the biggest issues for fans is the signing policy operated by FSG with Rodgers part of a transfer committee which decides which players to recruit.

It has rarely worked with over £100m seemingly wasted on players who can’t cut it at Anfield, especially those who arrived on the back of Luis Suarez’s £70m transfer to Barcelona after last summer’s World Cup.

If Rodgers does stay, it would surely be in his best interests to have a much bigger say in who is brought into the club. Another idea would be to recruit proven quality rather than potential, which may never be fulfilled.

A player of the former ilk who is close to a move to Liverpool is Manchester City midfielder James Milner. The 29-year-old is ready to join the Reds on a free transfer when his City contract ends later this month. Liverpool fans, worried about how they are going to replace LA Galaxy bound Steven Gerrard, would welcome the arrival of Milner.

In contrast signing Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, would divide opinion. He is a target but it is understood Liverpool would not be prepared to pay £32.5m, which is the buy-out clause for the Belgian, who along with the rest of his team-mates was poor in Saturday’s FA Cup final, won with ease 4-0 by Arsenal.

At this stage there is more chance that Burnley striker Danny Ings, like Milner a free agent, will join Liverpool.

While ahead of tomorrow’s meeting Rodgers, 42, is busy preparing for next season as Liverpool boss, it was interesting that yesterday Jurgen Klopp, a potential replacement if the Northern Ireland man were to depart, announced he was taking a break from the game after stepping down as Borussia Dortmund manager.

The 47-year-old, who lost his last game in charge of Dortmund 3-1 to Wolfsburg in Saturday’s German Cup final, said: “After seven intense and emotional years, I think it’s a good idea to let the numerous memories settle in before I take on a new challenge with my team refreshed and motivated. I’m going to take a break until further notice.”

Quite a few Liverpool fans who would love to see former boss Rafael Benitez return, but he is poised to take over at Real Madrid, while Carlo Ancelotti, who just left the Spanish giants, is wanted by his old club AC Milan.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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