herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

John Giles: Rodgers has lost fight for survival at Anfield

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers
Kevin Keegan and Alex Ferguson

I'M not sure how long it will take or the circumstances which will ultimately lead to his exit from Anfield but the tide is running in only one direction. Brendan Rodgers has lost his fight.

In the end, it may be the struggle Liverpool had to beat Carlisle United in the League Cup or a bad result in the Merseyside derby in a few weeks' time but a calculation is being made by the Fenway Sports Group and Rodgers doesn't add up.

From the start I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. The way he spoke and the things he said resonated nicely. His respect for Liverpool football club was obvious and his intention to put out a team which held true to Anfield's highest standards was a worthy objective.

But over time, Rodgers has talked far too much and not done enough on the pitch where it matters. His idea of what he wants to be and how he wants to be seen has accelerated far beyond the reality of how Liverpool are playing.

Principle

A manager gains an identity by doing and not talking. It's what his players do on the pitch that makes the man. Simply claiming an affinity to free-flowing, passing football doesn't make it happen.

In all the years Alex Ferguson ruled the roost at Old Trafford he talked very little about systems or his vision. What he did was buy good players and let them play. What he did was control all the buying and selling and what his masters the Glazers did was to give him their trust and their money.

At Anfield, they know all about this and understand the principle. The Kop remains the most patient and knowledgeable support base of any club in England and they know instinctively how great managers manage. They had three of them.

It's not really about philosophies or worshipping at the same altar as Pep Guardiola or Barcelona. It's about creating an environment which allows good players to play. If you can do that, you have a chance.

Bill Shankly's greatest legacy to Liverpool was the ethos he implanted in the club. He gave them a platform to build on and they benefited from his work for two decades.

He brought very good players to the club and he gave them the confidence and discipline they needed to be a team. All Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish did after him was to follow that road. Right now, I'm not really sure what path Liverpool are on.

They have a transfer committee so Rodgers is working with players he is not fully committed to and by no standard could you say he has got the best value for the money spent.

The problem is that he talks as if everything is fine and he has the conditions he needs to be a successful manager. I've said before that he reminds me of Kevin Keegan. The impression hardens with every week.

Keegan was a momentum manager. He carried Newcastle on a wave of enthusiasm and good results. He told players what they wanted to hear and they believed him.

That works for a while but eventually another team or manager will present a problem which cannot be overcome by being positive, a game which cannot be won by scoring more than the opposition.

That's when you need knowledge. That's when really good managers dig deep into their understanding of the game and find a way to win.

I don't think Keegan had that kind of knowledge and I think the same may be the case with Rodgers.

He made a circus of his decision to go three at the back late last year and told us he was awake all night working it out in his head. By the end of the season, he had quietly binned the notion.

It would be a bitter blow for Rodgers if he loses this job and it will certainly give him a crisis of identity but I hope he would learn from it and I wouldn't write him off. He will get another chance.

If I had advice for him it would be to say that silence is golden. Let results do the talking.

He should fight for better conditions in his next job and not have to stand over decisions which were clearly not his own. But he shouldn't despair. After all, Roy Hodgson was sacked by Liverpool and he will lead England to France 2016 next summer.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News