Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers clings onto Anfield job...for now

£20m Benteke tops list as Rodgers prepares for season review

By Sam Wallace

Brendan Rodgers' job is not under immediate threat from Liverpool's American owners in the aftermath of Sunday's 6-1 Premier League final day defeat at Stoke City and the club expect to pursue their transfer targets as agreed this summer.

Fenway Sports Group is making an enquiry about the Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, who has two years of his deal left to run and could fetch a price in excess of £20m.

The owners still also hope to sign the summer's two leading free agents, Danny Ings and James Milner, and as yet there are no moves to replace the manager, with whom they have drawn up this list of potential signings.

Rodgers went into Sunday's game aware that he would face what has been described as a robust and thorough review of the club's season, most likely in Boston with the key figures in FSG some time next month. The owner, John W Henry, and Mike Gordon, the second-largest shareholder in FSG, are likely to attend that meeting, as well as Anfield chief executive Ian Ayre, but there is no current belief that Rodgers is under threat.

The meeting is expected to be about how the club and the owners can get more out of Rodgers, as well as addressing his £117m spending last summer after the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

There is the possibility of a new director of football being appointed to oversee transfers, although the club's nominal transfer committee already has a major say in which players are signed.

Before the season, FSG set out a top-four finish and Champions League qualification as Rodgers' target.

The club have little time to waste in preparing for next season, with the chance they could begin Europa League third-round qualifying on July 30 if Aston Villa win the FA Cup final on Saturday.

If Arsenal win the Wembley showpiece, then Liverpool's sixth-place finish will be enough to qualify them for the group stage of the competition.

It was reported in Germany last night that the former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp is to take a six-month sabbatical from football, ruling himself out of any potential move to Liverpool.

Former AC Milan and Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti is free though after he was sacked as coach of Real Madrid last night after the Spanish giants failed to win any major silverware during the 2014-15 campaign.

Ancelotti led Real to their 10th European Cup success last season but has been shown the door after they finished runners-up to Barcelona in La Liga and lost to Juventus in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Real president Florentino Perez held a meeting with Ancelotti yesterday afternoon where he told the Italian, who had one year left on his contract, that his services were no longer required.

"I would like to inform you that the board has taken the decision to relieve Carlo Ancelotti of his post as Real Madrid coach," Perez said at a press conference.

"It was a very difficult decision to make; the demands at this club are the utmost because Madrid always wants to win silverware."

But it's unlikely Ancelotti would be tempted by the Reds, even if the job was vacant and therefore it is full systems go for Rodgers.

Kolo Toure is set to sign a year's extension at the club, despite his relative lack of playing time, to give what Rodgers hopes will be the benefit of his experience to the team next season.

Speaking after the defeat by Stoke, Toure said that the players had tried to win the game for Steven Gerrard, in his last Liverpool match, but had found themselves on the end of a damaging defeat.

"It's no good to end the season with a game like that," Toure said.

"What can we do? It's difficult. That's not a great finish to the season. It's difficult to find words after a game like that. Of course, it's difficult for Stevie to end up on the end of a result like this. He would've been expecting a better result with what he has done for Liverpool.

"We wanted to do better for him. We wanted to finish fifth as well, but we could not."

But Toure did not believe that the end to Liverpool's season would discourage new players from joining in the summer.

"This is a great club, any player would want to play for Liverpool, we all know that," he said. "It's up to the club to see what they think is going to be good for them."


Now Rodgers faces biggest challenge yet Brendan Rodgers ready to face the music after Liverpool are thrashed by Stoke Stoke 6 - 1 Liverpool: Potters inflict Reds' heaviest defeat in 52 years

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