Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers is feeling the heat as end game draws near for under fire Liverpool boss

Rodgers has three matches to hold on to his job

By Sam Wallace

Brendan Rodgers' next three games in charge of Liverpool against Aston Villa and Everton in the Premier League, and Sion of Switzerland in the Europa League, will be critical to the future of the manager who has the backing of Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group, for now.

Rodgers, 42, was at the training ground yesterday and is preparing for the Villa game tomorrow.

He is due to give his Friday press conference as usual this morning at Melwood.

There was dismay at the club that they required a penalty shoot-out to eliminate League Two Carlisle United in the Capital One Cup at Anfield on Wednesday night, although it was acknowledged that the side were ultimately resilient enough to avoid being embarrassed.

As things stand, the Carnlough man has the backing of the American owners FSG.

In the past they have moved quickly to remove managers Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish, as opposed to leaving them in position while they approached other candidates. While the end of the season might be an obvious parting of the ways for club and manager, Rodgers will need a turnaround in results to last that long.

The club have denied there has been any approach, direct or otherwise, for Carlo Ancelotti.

Nevertheless, he would be one of the obvious candidates if Rodgers was unable to recover his position.

Ancelotti, 56, has recently undergone surgery on a long-term back problem and spends much of his time in Canada with new wife Mariann Barrena McClay.

It is unclear how willing he is to return to frontline management in the near future.

Jurgen Klopp, 48, the former Borussia Dortmund manager, is on sabbatical having left the club in the summer.

The indications from the German are that he would be prepared to take over at Liverpool at the earliest opportunity in spite of his original pledge to take some time off from the game.

The mood of the fans will, as ever, play a part in deciding the Ulsterman's future with there being no appetite at the club for seeing a deeply unpopular manager at odds with the fans for a long period of the season.

While it would be fair to say that the match-going fans are divided over Rodgers there is none of the mass outright hostility to him that would force the club's hand.

After the narrow win over Carlisle, goalkeeper Adam Bogdan admitted the players were aware of the growing discontent among Liverpool fans but insisted they were doing all they could to turn the situation around.

The Hungary international said: "Of course, you're not deaf or blind, you see and hear things, but you can only afford to concentrate on your own job. It's frustrating when you have so many chances and don't score but I think the fans could see that we kept trying.

"I understand the frustration (of fans). We want to win and we're trying everything possible to win and to win in style. We all know the Villa game is massive. The final touch is missing for us at the moment but it will come. I really hope it comes on Saturday."

Belfast Telegraph


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