Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers running out of time as well as excuses to keep his job at Liverpool

By Tim Rich

When asked what he intended to do to reverse Liverpool's slide, Brendan Rodgers said something about "working harder in training".

Rodgers is the most articulate manager Liverpool have had since Bill Shankly, but in the press room at Old Trafford the power of words failed him.

"Working harder in training" is the kind of phrase a manager comes up with when he has nothing to say.

It is like "We need a goal to go in off someone's backside". They desperately want things to change but are not sure how.

Liverpool, you imagine, already work pretty hard in training and the deficiencies exposed by Saturday evening's 3-1 defeat to Manchester United are not going to be solved by giving Lucas Leiva a few more laps of Melwood.

When, in mid-December, Liverpool conceded three times at Old Trafford - a defeat that left them 10th in the Premier League table, between Swansea and Stoke, and already eliminated from the Champions League - Rodgers acted rather than talked.

He persevered with a radically altered formation that until the wheels came off in April suggested it would carry Liverpool back into the Champions League.

Rodgers running out of time as well as excuses to keep his job

Unless he can do something similar now, his chances of remaining in charge appear slim even before the start of a Europa League campaign that usually drains energy and points.

There was a time when a banner with an image of Rodgers with the word "Boss" appeared on the Kop but now an icon is ready to become an effigy.

Once the final whistle went on Saturday, owner John W Henry's Twitter account was bombarded with messages urging him to do away with the man he appointed to succeed Kenny Dalglish.

Whether the Liverpool owner would pay them any heed is open to conjecture - he has not tweeted since April - but he is ruthless enough.

Anyone who can sack Dalglish can fire Rodgers. And having acquiesced in the removal of his own backroom staff in May, it would be hard to imagine how Rodgers might evade responsibility now.

There are, however, a few cards to play before we reach for phrases like "mutual consent".

Steven Gerrard thinks Jose Mourinho would have excelled at Liverpool or England

Liverpool were abject, surrendering possession at every available opportunity before the interval but their midfield was missing Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson.

The return of Daniel Sturridge to partner Christian Benteke is not far off.

Liverpool have always been slow starters under Rodgers.

In the first five games of each of his four seasons at Anfield they have taken 25 points from a possible 60.

That, essentially, is the case for the defence and Rodgers would hope it might be slightly more robust than the defence that failed to notice the cleverly taken free-kick that triggered Manchester United's opener or prevent Anthony Martial running through them to score what was an exquisite third.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph