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Rodgers' credibility was badly damaged in Madrid

BRENDAN Rodgers must think we are all fools. That's the only explanation I can find for his performance during the week when black became white and strongly held beliefs were quietly forgotten.

He sent his best players to the bench for a huge game for Liverpool Football Club against Real Madrid and then tried to tell us it was a genuine selection picked to win a game.

Nobody believed him and this is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for him. Credibility in football is hard-won and should be protected. Rodgers seems intent on throwing his away.

Each foolish outburst chips away at our belief. The furore around Balotelli began when Rodgers stated categorically that he would not be joining Liverpool.

A few weeks later he was standing beside Balotelli grinning feverishly and gritting his teeth.

Which brings us to his biggest problem. Who actually controls the buying and selling of players at Anfield? I don't think it is him - or certainly not him alone.

I don't think he wanted to sign Balotelli but ending up doing it because of circumstances and pressure from above at Liverpool.

It was never going to be easy to get the result in Madrid which Liverpool needed, but to effectively abandon the effort was unforgivable.

This is the manager who spoke often and eloquently last season about how big a target the Champions League was for Liverpool.

In fact, for many weeks he would not acknowledge that a title chase was on and referred instead to his target for the season - Champions League qualification.

How strange that when he actually gets into the competition and faces up to one of the epic evenings he talked so much about, he decides to send out a reserve team.

It was hard to believe. We have all became numbed to the casual disrespect for competitions like the League Cup, the FA Cup and the Europa League.

For years, managers have used those fixtures to play promising kids or recovering long-term injury victims. They don't even bother to make excuses any more.

But to do the same in the Champions League is quite amazing, and then to insult everyone's intelligence by suggesting that he wasn't resting his best players was ridiculous.

Complimented

Of course, we will see at the weekend when he takes on Chelsea whether Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling make an appearance.

Rodgers said before and after the game that this was a bona fide selection and that he wanted to shake things up. He complimented the players and said that they had done very well against Real Madrid.

Well, if that I the case, I will await his team sheet with great interest because if he is true to his word, they should all play and the lads who sat on the bench in Spain should stay on the bench.

But they won't and we all know they won't. Rodgers cheapened the Champions League by picking a 'B' team and there is no other way to put it.

I think Rodgers is in a very bad place right now and I don't think he is handling it very well. His expensive signings have not done it for him and the hardcore men from last season's title attempt are under-performing badly.

The bright, open football we all enjoyed has gone and Rodgers looks like a man with no answers.

He shares that fate with Manuel Pellegrini at the moment. The Manchester City manager looks as confused as his Liverpool counterpart and that performance against CSKA Moscow was awful.

No discipline, no drive and no energy. Pellegrini watched seasoned professionals lose the plot and when they left the pitch, with them went any chance of Manchester City winning the Champions League for another season.

The situation at Manchester City is much harder to understand than the Rodgers predicament. At least he can point to Luis Suarez's departure as the root cause of his problems.

Pellegrini has better players than Rodgers - and more of them - and based on his squad alone, should be right up there gunning for the Champions League title.

But instead we see lethargic players, prone to ill-discipline, and in Yaya Toure a man who doesn't seem to want to be in Manchester at all.

A few weeks back, I gave Pellegrini some grace because of the impact the World Cup had on his players. It was obvious that many of his key men looked leggy and almost sleepy.

But it his job to correct that and he has all the resources he needs to do it at his disposal.

The fact that he seems to be thrashing around in the Champions League at a time when Manchester City have a relatively settled squad and one that has been trying to improve in the Champions League for a few years now would not fill me full of confidence that he will ever get it right.

Comfortable

Sure, it takes time for a club to become comfortable in a Champions League environment particularly when it's a new experience but all the big players in Pellegrini's team have been there and done that.

They should be able to handle the step up in their sleep instead of nodding off along the way.

Both Manchester City and Liverpool are struggling as much in the Premier League as they are in the Champions League so all routes to some winning momentum are closed at the moment.

Just a few months ago, I would have laughed off any suggestion that either manager could be under pressure before Christmas but I have to say, unless both teams find a way to perform consistently well and soon, the headlines will become gloomier and gloomier and fans disquiet will increase.

If I had to make a bet, I think that Pellegrini can turn things around by virtue of the talent available, but Rodgers could be on thin ice.


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