Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers should stay, but must do better: Ronnie Whelan

By Steven Beacom

It may not have come with the most ringing endorsement, but Liverpool legend Ronnie Whelan has stated that the club's owners were right to keep manager Brendan Rodgers in his job.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the Kop hero stated that the Ulsterman deserved to stay at Anfield despite a disappointing season, though added that the Liverpool manager's track record in the transfer market had to improve.

Rodgers came under pressure last month after his side finished sixth in the Premier League as the campaign ended with a humiliating 6-1 defeat at Stoke.

There were calls for the Carnlough native's head from some sections of the support, but he survived in contrast to coaches Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh, who were sacked.

While mystified by those exits, Whelan stated it was the correct call to stick with Rodgers, who almost guided Liverpool to their first title since 1990 last year.

He said: "I don't see a reason to get rid of him at this point in time. A lot of players there know him and a lot of players seem to be happy with what he does.

"He has made a few mistakes in the transfer market. We hear about Liverpool's transfer committee which we are not 100 per cent sure about, but surely he must have some say in the matter so some of the signings could be a lot better. I would give him another chance though."

On Pascoe and Marsh leaving, he added: "Was it Brendan's decision? Did he feel he needed someone more experienced than Marshy and Colin Pascoe? I really don't know the reason."

When winning virtually every honour possible with the Reds in the 80s and 90s, Whelan did not waste passes. He is not one to waste words either.

It's pretty clear by his tone that Mario Balotelli is not the Dubliner's favourite player.

"Liverpool didn't have any centre forwards closing down quickly enough last season with Luis Suarez moving to Barcelona and (Daniel) Sturridge injured for long periods," said Whelan.

"You are not going to get that from (Rickie) Lambert, you are definitely not going to get it from Balotelli and (Fabio) Borini didn't play much. Maybe with a new centre forward things could change."

On the new outfield signings to date, James Milner and Danny Ings, the Whelan verdict is: "Ings will certainly run around for you and I think Milner is the type who will get stuck in. The manager is now looking for players to bring energy to the team. He needs that.

"Hopefully when the new campaign begins Liverpool can do what they did two seasons ago. They were great when they were closing people down and getting the ball back quickly from top teams like Arsenal and Man United and Everton and then wiping the floor with them."

Whelan did not miss and hit the wall when discussing Liverpool's wantaway star Raheem Sterling. Manchester City have already had a bid of £25 million rejected for the England winger, who turned down a new contract offer of £100,000 per week. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid are all monitoring the situation.

Whelan would not be sad to see the young player go.

He said: "Offers have been made and rejected but I'm really not too bothered if he stays. Yes, he is a very good player with lots of potential but when you get a player like that who keeps messing you about it is better that he is out of the club than in it."

Whelan has just completed a 105 mile walk from Dublin to Waterford for the charity Myaware to raise money and awareness for a condition called Myasthenia, a rare autoimmune disease. Ronnie's daughter Elizabeth was diagnosed with the condition 10 years ago.

  • Ronnie and fellow former Liverpool great David Johnson will be at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus tomorrow at 8pm, along with impersonator Darren Farley, to raise funds for the County Antrim Milk Cup squad, coached by Stefan Seaton. To purchase tickets for 'An Evening with Legends' contact Keith Norris on 07889743917 or email tekeano1@aol

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