herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Ronnie Whelan: Sack the committee, not Brendan Rodgers

Chelsea's Francesc Fabregas and Liverpool's Jordan Henderson (left) battle for the ball
Chelsea's Francesc Fabregas and Liverpool's Jordan Henderson (left) battle for the ball
Brendan Rodgers

I would love to know exactly how the Liverpool transfer committee goes about its work. Because I don't have the full picture, I find it difficult to make a judgement on Brendan Rodgers.

Yesterday's 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge ended any hope that Liverpool had of involvement in the Champions League next season and I think most supporters realised as far back as November like me that qualification was always going to be a tall order.

But the brief optimism sparked by a revival was nothing more than a fig leaf.

The race for the Champions League was a red herring. It gave everyone something to cling to and perhaps the owners some space to examine their options.

They must have noticed that Jurgen Klopp is available and we can only await events to see if they are ready to back their man or throw Rodgers to the wolves.

But I find it difficult to join in the debate on Rodgers because I'm short on information and many feel the same way.

I know the committee is involved in buying and selling players but more than that, I'm in the dark.

All I can go on is what I see and the evidence stacking up suggests that the process Liverpool Football Club uses to buy and sell players doesn't work.

One of the great benefits of having a manager who controls transfer dealings is that you know who is responsible when things go wrong. There are his players and if they don't perform we know who to blame.

But in this set-up, I can only blame the committee and after the season Liverpool had, a cynic might say that the committee and not Rodgers should not be working at Anfield this summer.

It's a concept alien to Liverpool. It goes against everything the club used to value and one way or other, it left Rodgers with Mario Balotelli as his main striker for a major chunk of the season.

The Fenway Group need to make some decisions but while they've been getting to that point, Louis van Gaal picked up the phone to Memphis Depay and signed him.

In the few years since Alex Ferguson retired, Old Trafford had transfer chaos and largely because Ed Woodward did not give David Moyes the support he needed in the transfer market. There was a committee of sorts in play.

Once van Gaal arrived, one voice took control and the results are obvious. Depay was coveted by every big club in Europe but a phone call from the Manchester United manager made the difference.

A phone call from Rodgers would never carry such weight or certainly not the way things are set up at Anfield right now.

Look at where the committee has brought the club. It has been a mess for three years. Starting from the Andy Carroll fiasco, it has failed to provide Liverpool with enough attacking power.

Even in a moment of success for the committee, they messed up. The urgency and strength the owners by making a stand and refusing to deal with any club offering to buy Luis Suarez should have been matched by efforts to find new talent in the background.

Once any player shows an inclination to leave and especially when it's a bankable world star who has, shall we say, disciplinary issues, it is common sense to take steps to cover yourself.

So even though Suarez agreed to stay, the committee should have been beavering away looking for his replacement and that work should have been taking place for months before he let his teeth do the talking again in Brazil.

It didn't and Liverpool ended up with Balotelli.

I can't put my hand on my heart and tell you that Brendan Rodgers wanted Adam Lallana but I'm pretty sure he didn't want Balotelli because he said as much.

The committee did and that's the problem.

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