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Monday 11 December 2017

John Giles: Rodgers has lost control at Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers
Costa & Mourinho

Brendan Rodgers can smile all likes for the cameras and continue to preach his message like a church evangelist but he cannot hide the fact that he is not in full control at Anfield.

In recent days, much has been written about the way Liverpool deal with player movement in and out and if I'm to believe what I read (and in this case I do), he is just one voice among many when it comes to the transfer market.

This is something I have long suspected and the best evidence for it was his categorical statement about Mario Balotelli in America two weeks before they signed football's problem child.

In his defence some have suggested that he is hardly likely to broadcast his desire to sign a player and in many cases, managers say the opposite of what they mean simply for financial reasons.

But I don't buy that explanation at all. I think Rodgers had his own ideas about who he wanted to sign and don't think the committee agreed with him.

This committee is about as bad an idea as you could have and every time you see Rodgers talking, it is worth remembering that he is speaking for a group.

RIDICULOUS

That's probably why many of his comments since Luis Suarez left the club have reflected confusion and a take on reality which is at odds with mine.

He may even believe some of the stuff that comes out of him but I would be surprised if he does. I'd say he must sound ridiculous even to himself sometimes. He was at it again after Liverpool struggled with a compact Ludogrets team in midweek and he was rewriting history within minutes of the game ending.

Apparently if he had been offered the chance to pay for a place in the Champions League knock-out stage at the start of the season with a home game against Basel as the decider, he would have taken it without hesitation.

But his assessment completely ignored how Liverpool have reached that point and the fact that they have played poorly now for months.

He glossed over the fact that Liverpool again conceded a sloppy, late goal from a set-piece and the underlying suggestion that he cannot deal with the defensive side of the game adequately by claiming that it didn't impact on the outcome. But what about winning a football game? Why would you not want to win every game regardless of how it influences events? If you keep winning, it doesn't matter what anyone else does. If I was Rodgers, I would have been furious with my players after that game but he didn't seem too upset.

In his eyes, he's sticking to his guns and defending his players come what may. But the problem is that from what is now emerging from Anfield, they are not his players.

The committee have responsibility for buying and selling but I guarantee you, he will be the one to take it in the neck if this situation doesn't improve.

The vision which seemed bright and shiny at the height of Liverpool's run last season is flawed as well. It's all very well to score more than the opposition to win games but if your defence is leaking badly, you'll never score enough goals.

That's the central issue for Rodgers now in purely practical terms but it is one among many and I'm beginning to doubt he has the capacity to find solutions.

I feel sympathy for him at one level but he accepted the conditions he is working in and he need only look to one of his pals down in London for a lesson in the right way to go about managing a big club.

Jose Mourinho left Stamford Bridge because his owner imposed his own wishes on him in terms of players. He walked out because he could not control his own destiny. The fact that he came back after many tries by Roman Abramovich to find someone who would bend to his will and deliver 'sexy' football on demand shows that for now, the lesson was learned.

Mourinho came back to Chelsea, assessed his squad, made the most of what he had and then set about filling in the gaps. While he was pushing for Diego Costa, the committee at Anfield were looking at Pro Zone statistics, trying to fill gaps in their knowledge which can only be absorbed through personal experience.

Arsene Wenger is hanging on to his status as the only decision maker at Arsenal but he is under serious pressure now to bend with the wind and accept the supposed reality of 'modern football'.

I know some elements of the game have changed but nobody will ever tell me that it makes sense for five or six people to have a role to play in a decision which only a manager can truly make.

Some things do not change. Bill Shankly didn't manage by committee and yet produced one of the most successful club sides the game has ever seen. That's the standard Rodgers must live up to but he is working with one hand tied behind his back.

As a result, Rodgers is a lame duck and one prone to a lot of verbal flapping with silence or a straight bat would make so much more sense. I don't doubt that he has had to deal with difficulties but so too did Mourinho. He had no strikers last season but he was still competitive in all competitions and organised his defence brilliantly.

It has been hard for Rodgers to cope with the loss of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge can't seem to get fit.

But his critics will point to the money spent in June and July and justifiably wonder whether he got value for money.

He can't really win because his fundamental position is weak and while I don't see it happening this season, he will inevitably pay for committee made decisions with his job.

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