Howe praise for new-look Liverpool
Eddie Howe believes Brendan Rodgers is on the verge of building his strongest Liverpool team to date.
The Bournemouth manager on Monday takes his team to Anfield for their second Barclays Premier League fixture of the season, having lost their first 1-0 to Aston Villa - a day before Liverpool won by the same scoreline at Stoke.
Howe is familiar with Rodgers having observed his methods when the Northern Irishman was the Swansea manager and also worked under Rodgers' new assistant Sean O'Driscoll, as a player, while the latter was in charge of Bournemouth.
The combination of a disappointing season following injury to Daniel Sturridge and the departure of Luis Suarez, however, followed by this summer's exits of Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling and almost £300million spent on new players in the three years since his appointment have left Rodgers under a significant amount of pressure.
Despite their good relationship Howe explained that was something for which he has little sympathy, but while the wisdom of the recent recruitment of Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and others has been a source of further criticism, Howe believes that they will prove stronger than anything Rodgers has had before.
"He's building a new Liverpool team so I think this will be possibly the best Liverpool team that he's put together," said Howe, 37. "I don't think he needs any sympathy, certainly.
"Why not [can't it be better than the 2013/14 team]? He's got really talented individuals and he's had time, and longer to work with the players, so they'll be more in tune to what he wants them to do.
"He's manager of Liverpool, I don't think there's too much sympathy to be flying around. He's done a magnificent job. He did a magnificent job at Swansea, I think he's doing a great job at Liverpool.
"It's a tough challenge, when you have so many clubs fighting for league titles and Champions League spots. I think he's done very well."
The arrivals of Benteke, Firmino and James Milner suggest that, after building his reputation as a manager whose preference is for possession-based football, Rodgers wants Liverpool to be more direct.
Howe is another to have been praised for encouraging an attractive game but says that if Rodgers' approach has changed it will have been for the right reasons.
"He will play to the strengths of the players he has, that's the key to success for any manager," he said. "You need to get the best out of the players you have. If you play a way that's foreign to your players then it's not going to work.
"We have some very good footballers, so to get the best out of them, pumping long balls down the pitch isn't going to help them. That's the challenge for any manager, to play to the strength of the individuals."