Friday 23 March 2018

Frank De Boer waits in wings as Rodgers plays it cool

'I am not worried. Not at all. That is not being arrogant,' said Brendan Rodgers about the mounting pressure
'I am not worried. Not at all. That is not being arrogant,' said Brendan Rodgers about the mounting pressure

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he does not fear the consequences of a Merseyside derby defeat this weekend, despite the growing threat to his job after a series of poor performances.

As Ajax manager Frank de Boer became the latest high-profile coach to alert Liverpool to his availability - Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp are frontrunners if the manager's tenure comes to an end - Rodgers says he is not worried about the repercussions of another serious setback.

Liverpool's trip across Stanley Park comes amid a period of intense scrutiny on Rodgers and his side, with the international break seen as a time when the club's owners will reflect on the team's start to the season and determine if the current direction has longevity.

Rodgers's side sit five points off the top and within two points of a Champions League place, but have been booed off in three of their last five home games.

"I am not worried. Not at all," said Rodgers.

"That is not being arrogant or having been given any assurances. It's not something I look for or that I am worried about. I am not looking for reassurances or seeking any.

"I enjoy being here and enjoy the challenge of working with these players. It's a long season and we will make progress as we go along. Once we get everyone fit we have the squad to challenge.

"You lose games at a club like this and there is an investigation that is deep and the analysis is huge, but that is part of being at a prestigious club.

"Every game here has been like that. There is no more or less pressure than before. It's very simple - we have drawn a number of games we should have won but the reality is we are a couple of points off the top four and five off the top. We are calm and enjoying our work."

Rodgers has spent recent weeks re-emphasising the idea of another rebuilding job at Anfield following another summer of recruitment.

Winning over the hearts and minds of a Liverpool fan base increasingly fatigued by the idea of being in perpetual transition is a battle for both the manager and the Anfield board.

"It is rebuilding a group again, new players and going again," said Rodgers. "In the first couple of years we did well and over the last 12 months we've had to manage change and a lot of disruption in the squad.

"When you win games you have the support and when you lose there is disappointment. My worry is the club and for it to be the best it can be but as manager you will always have critics and if you don't win the level can increase.

"I also know there is great support and those who want us to do well are behind the team. It is also about perspective. There is a lot of pressure on the players and they are dealing with it very well. Perspective keeps us calm."

In recent weeks Rodgers has robustly defended his performance at Anfield and noted the 'hysteria' surrounding the manager's position. That will only intensify if he fails to get a positive result at Goodison Park.

A week after Ancelotti was linked with Rodgers's job and Klopp made it known he would be keen to move to Anfield should a vacancy arise, De Boer went public with his interest.

The Dutchman has stated previously he rejected an approach from Fenway Sports Group in 2012 - when Rodgers was appointed.

At that time, De Boer was committed to Ajax but now he is open to offers.

Asked specifically about Liverpool and Newcastle United, where Rodgers and Steve McClaren have had early-season problems, De Boer said: "They are fantastic clubs. Liverpool and Newcastle, with supporters behind them it is a fantastic environment to coach but this year it is important for me to do well at Ajax and then we will see."

De Boer's remarks in an interview with BBC's World Service are significant given their timing.

He says he will take a Premier League position in the near future.

"Yes I think every year it comes closer, of course," said De Boer.

"I'm looking maybe for another adventure. If there is an interesting club that I think with my quality I can make that team better - if I can, then I will take that chance."

Meanwhile, Liverpool will be without striker Christian Benteke, who has not recovered from a hamstring problem, for the Everton game.

Daniel Sturridge returns to the squad. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Everton v Liverpool, live, Sky Sports 1, 1.30 tomorrow

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