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John Giles: Rodgers is teetering but Louis looks safe

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Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

IF I had to make a bet on Brendan Rodgers' chances of surviving the season, I'd be looking very closely at the FA Cup third round game against AFC Wimbledon in early January and not towards Old Trafford on Sunday.

I know that this is the most bitter rivalry in the Premier League at the moment, and a bad beating from Manchester United, would not help Rodgers but I do not think it would lead to his dismissal.

But if they do lose and you stack it on top of everything that has happened since July, a hungry giant-killer like Wimbledon could administer a knockout blow.

Realistically, the FA Cup is the last trophy Rodgers can hope to win and an early exit would raise the chorus for his removal to the kind of level which even Anfield's traditional reputation for patience might not be able to cope with.

I honestly thought that Rodgers had built up enough credit in the bank to build a team at Liverpool based on last season's run at the title and I certainly did not expect to be discussing a potential sacking before Christmas and just six months after he looked like the brightest young manager In Europe.

It is amazing how quickly most of that has evaporated and I think a good deal of that is down to Rodgers himself. He talks far too much and far too often, he has made himself look stupid.

RIDICULOUS

Two examples spring to mind. His reaction to Jose Mourinho's masterly smash and grab raid at the end of last season was ridiculous, as was his attempt to justify his decision to play a 'B' team in the Champions League against Real Madrid last month.

In the first case, Rodgers arrogantly made the claim that he wanted to play the game the right way and that Mourinho had parked the bus.

In the second he was just taking nonsense. He put out a weak team which managed to hold Real Madrid to a single goal and everyone knew that he was resting his best players for the Premier League game against Chelsea which followed - and which they lost.

But Rodgers turned logic on it's head after the Champions League game, blamed the media for labelling his players as 'B' men and then dropped them all four days later.

That's a big part of his problem.Every manager should be economical with the truth, and never say anything more than than he has to, but this man can't seem to stop himself blurting out waffle when a microphone is shoved in front of him.

Rodgers categorically stated that Mario Balotelli would never play for Liverpool and a few weeks later, he had to eat his words.

He is to eager to please and to eager to hear himself speak. Contrast him with Louis van Gaal, his rival manager on Sunday.

Both men began the season in similar circumstances but I don't think you can argue against the fact that the Dutchman has made a better fist of finding solutions to difficult issues.

For a start, I believe Manchester United bought the players he wanted, and I'm not so sure the same can be said for Rodgers.

Van Gaal, apart from one minor aberration after the away win over Arsenal, has been as relentlessly honest in his after -match assessments as Rodgers has been relentlessly positive and I know which one I prefer.

Van Gaal gave Robin van Persie a bit of a verbal rocket after that game against Arsenal and he has had a response.

Rodgers put his arm around Balotelli and everyone else in his squad and his players, if anything, have gone backwards since the season began.

I must say, I find this unsettling. In my mind, there is a big doubt over whether he even wanted the expensive duds he has been warming the bench with since the season started - so why defend them?

I know that this is his management style but it destroys his credibility when he is simply talking nonsense about a player like Balotelli, who will never thank him for his efforts.

POSITIVE

Of course, you could say that remaining positive is the lesser of two evils. Rodgers can either do what he is doing or tell the truth about Liverpool's transfer committee and his part in it, which I have no doubt would lead to an early exit.

Van Gaal has no such worries. He is as secure anyone can be in a Top Four job in the Premier League and I have no doubt that he will get more money to spend as and when he wants it.

On a purely practical level, I think van Gaal has made a better job of managing a messy squad situation from a standing start than Rodgers has.

No one can argue that Rodgers could control Luis Suarez's rash urges at the World Cup in Brazil or ignore the fact that Daniel Sturridge has hardly kicked a ball in anger this season.

But he spent a great deal of money and so far, has had virtually no return from any of them and in the case of Balotelli, and most recently Markovic, more trouble than they are worth.

Van Gaal, thrashing around in an endless flow of injuries, has had to mix and match constantly yet Manchester United, somehow, are in third position, despite not playing very well at all.

I don't think that will change on Sunday. I expect Manchester United to win this one and Rodgers should hunker down for a difficult few days.


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