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Thursday 8 December 2016

Ronnie Whelan: Brendan Rodgers needs to focus on the football and forget about conspiracy theories

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge shakes hands with manager Brendan Rodgers as he is substituted
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge shakes hands with manager Brendan Rodgers as he is substituted

THERE is no conspiracy, no X-file. It's just a football team, a football club and a football manager struggling to shake off years of inconsistency and not doing a great job of it.

Brendan Rodgers should know better than to reach into the book of excuses and blame unnamed dark forces for his current set of circumstances. It's all about results.

I'm disappointed that he did. He got the win he needed against Aston Villa and that would have been a good time to smile and meet questions with an inscrutable face. Why hand out more ammunition?

Last season Jose Mourinho was universally lampooned for his suggestion that the world was out to get Chelsea.

At least Mourinho had some plan in mind when he pointed the finger at everyone. He wanted to build a wall around his players and convince them that winning the title was the only way to lift the siege.

Change

Rodgers himself is under siege and feeling desperately insecure. That is very obvious from everything he says but he can't build a wall around himself.

I wonder does he see the irony when he talks about players being brave enough to play for a big club like Liverpool.

The manager must be brave and talented to make the cut at Anfield and I'm not sure Rodgers fully appreciates that fact. He's the boss and he takes it all on the chest.

I understand all the reasons people are advancing to make a change and find a new manager and it may well be the case that FSG are making plans. There was a lot of steam behind the Carlo Ancelotti rumour and Jurgen Klopp has been on everyone's mind around Merseyside since he left Borussia Dortmund.

Managers have agents too and there many people who will stir the pot in a situation like this. That's what happens when you're the manager of Liverpool football club.

So forget about conspiracies and focus on the job. He still has one to do and one to save and I believe Rodgers will be given more time.

I don't think there is any sign of a lynch mob at Anfield and he has one card left to play. Daniel Sturridge could yet be his ace and Danny Ings his joker.

Rodgers must understand that what he sees as hysteria is just a consequence of managing a big club. Mourinho said it during the week. Every manager is under pressure.

He was having a go at Arsene Wenger but the point was still accurate. There is extraordinary pressure on managers but what does Rodgers want. Counselling?

He could do worse than take a long, hard look at Louis van Gaal who would probably be upset if there wasn't a conspiracy against him and Manchester United.

He thrives on pressure. He lives for the cut and thrust and he doesn't complain. He just gets mad and walks out of a few press conferences.

Posterity

He certainly doesn't hand out well considered sound bites for posterity.

Talk less and knuckle down. There's a derby game to plan for and Sturridge is scoring goals again. The timing of his return could yet be pivotal.

I know many Liverpool fans are unhappy and some have made their feelings known. But I'm not in the 'hang him high' camp.

Yes, I'm worried about the money which has been spent and the players in the Liverpool squad and yes, I'm concerned that Liverpool seems to be on a three-year, sack and spend cycle.

But I want to see how Rodgers manages with Sturridge fully fit. I want to see can he recreate the football which left us all breathless and I want to see if the players he spent a lot of money on can finally deliver for him.

He will live or die by his players and Sturridge more than any other. If he can hit a run of form and bring Ings along with him, Liverpool will not be far behind Manchester United.

People will say whatever they want to say and the only sane answer he can give is to work hard to produce the only thing which will save him.

Results and not conspiracy theories will keep him in a job.

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