John Giles: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his Liverpool future
BRENDAN Rodgers has never looked weaker than he does right now. Events seem to unfold around him and he appears to have no control over them. He’s not quite lame duck but he’s fighting for his future.
No matter what angle I approach the current situation at Anfield, Rodgers emerges as the patsy, the one put forward to explain irrational decisions which are not his own and the man who must take responsibility for the actions of a committee.
Steven Gerrard made his own choice, as he always does and Liverpool FC as a corporate entity created the circumstances which meant that leaving the club was his first option.
Stuck in the middle was Rodgers who has admitted on a number of occasions now that he had no say in the discussions surrounding Gerrard, his agents and the club but was adamant from the first time this became an issue that he wanted to keep his captain.
He is not going to keep his captain and so his position, already severely weakened by the Mario Balotelli saga, has been further undermined.
The nuts and bolts of this seem simple enough to me. The deal Liverpool offered was not what Gerrard wanted and my hunch would be that he found it insulting. He put the matter into the public arena and that tells me that he was unhappy with Liverpool and expected more from them.
I don’t think Gerrard was looking for any more than he is on at the moment but someone, somewhere made a calculation and from that came the belief that the money could be more usefully spent.
There’s no mystery to any of that. It was a business decision based on whatever the Liverpool transfer committee uses to assess these things and from his own mouth, Rodgers had nothing to do with it.
Jose Mourinho, with title wins and a glowing reputation, decided he had enough of that kind of interference at Stamford Bridge and walked out. Rodgers, with a team in crisis and no obvious respite in sight, has no choice but to swallow hard and try to make the best of a bad lot.
What bothers me about Rodgers is not that he stands in front of cameras and tries to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear almost every time he talks. It’s the fact that he seems to do it with such enthusiasm and such passion that makes me wonder about his future.
I know he is between a rock and a hard place. The chance to take on a club on the scale of Liverpool is a rare thing for a young manager and it may well be the only chance he ever gets.
Put it this way, were would he go after Anfield if the axe falls. He has pitched himself as the brightest young manger in Europe but failure at Anfield would likely rule him out of the very biggest jobs which I’m sure he aspires to.
After all, he practices his Spanish at every opportunity and has said he would one day like to manage in Spain. I don’t imagine he has Cordoba or Levante in mind so he certainly couldn’t walk out now even if for me, the Gerrard affair is just the latest in what I would see as a series of resigning matters.
Imagine what it must be like for Rodgers to go into work every day knowing that there is a third party on the pitch with him. The committee helps him pick the team because the committee picks the players the club buys.
The committee decided that Gerrard didn’t fit into the financial model they are using as a roadmap and there is absolutely nothing Brendan Rodgers can do about it.
I accept that all the great managers had to prove themselves first before they were able to win control of their own destiny. Results are the best negotiating chip.
Had Rodgers pulled off a most unlikely title win last season , he should have had much more power to influence events at Anfield but the more I hear about this committee, the more certain I am that no amount of success would deflect them from their work.
In other words, Rodgers has signed up to this policy and John Henry intends to press ahead with a method of club management which does not allow the manager to manage properly.
As for Gerrard, I do not see any way for him to play in the Premier League again and I’m pretty certain that he has already made the decision to head for America and the MLS.
I know Robbie Keane is having a ball out there and keeping the fire burning for himself but Gerrard could easily have played one more season at the very highest level for Rodgers, even if some of it had to be on the bench.
Football at LA Galaxy or wherever he winds up will be a big, big step down from what he has been used to for a long time and no amount of MVP awards will compensate for the regret he will feel about never winning the Premier League.