Friday 23 March 2018

Jurgen Klopp to open talks at Anfield after the axe falls on Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers sits in the dug-out at Goodison Park yesterday in what proved to be his final match in charge of Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers sits in the dug-out at Goodison Park yesterday in what proved to be his final match in charge of Liverpool
Juergen Klopp would be willing to work within Liverpool's current structures

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool will open discussions with the former Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp after ending Brendan Rodgers' three-year reign at Anfield.

Having made it clear how eager he is to move to Merseyside, Klopp is expected to hold talks in the coming days and is seen as a more likely fit for the club than Carlo Ancelotti.

The Italian will still be sounded out, but Liverpool plan to name ­Rodgers' replacement before the club's next ­Premier League fixture against ­Tottenham Hotspur on October 17.

The club's American owners, Fenway Sports Group, informed the out-going manager of their decision to make a change shortly after the 1-1 draw in the Merseyside derby yesterday, Rodgers paying the price for a prolonged run of poor form going back to last season.


A decision on the next manager will be based on which of the ­candidates is most willing to work within ­Liverpool's existing structure, and who believes they can get the most out of the ­existing squad.

Klopp's familiarity with Liverpool's club model - and comfort working at a club where others have more control over recruitment - is attractive to the Anfield owners. He has not disguised how keen he is to end his sabbatical and move to English football, and a partnership between the charismatic German and The Kop has caught the imagination of the red half of the city.

There is no possibility of Liverpool's transfer committee being disbanded, although the recently appointed ­backroom team must await their fate depending on the wishes of the new boss.

Ian Ayre, the chief executive, and the FSG president Mike Gordon spoke to Rodgers, who can expect a pay-off in the region of £7million, within an hour of the draw at Goodison Park to inform him of the board's decision. Ayre visited Rodgers's home after Gordon delivered the news by phone.

The Northern Irishman will be ­devastated his tenure has ended so soon into a season as he hoped to be given more time to oversee what he felt was another period of transition. He had given a robust defence of his coaching credentials in recent weeks, not least in the aftermath of what turned out to be his final game in charge. However, a statement was delivered at 6.30pm confirming a fresh direction for the club.

Fenway Sports Group principal owner John W Henry, chairman Tom Werner and Gordon said in the ­statement: "We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Brendan Rodgers for the significant ­contribution he has made to the club and express our gratitude for his hard work and commitment.

"All of us have experienced some wonderful moments with Brendan as manager and we are confident he will enjoy a long career in the game. Although this has been a difficult decision, we believe it provides us with the best opportunity for success on the pitch. Ambition and winning are at the heart of what we want to bring to Liverpool and we believe this change gives us the best opportunity to deliver it.

"The search for a new manager is underway and we hope to make an appointment in a decisive and timely manner."

Rodgers had been hearing for weeks his job was on the line, but there was no inkling confirmation of his ­departure would be so swift.


In the Goodison Park press room he warned FSG that whoever took over would face similar difficulties leading a young side in a top-four challenge. "If we are to replicate what we did two years ago, we will have to build something," he said.

"That will take time whether that is me or someone else. That is frustrating for the supporters but there are new players. For me, when you are at such a huge club, you are always going to get other managers linked with your club. It is where you are, the level. I have never felt anything other than secure. I was brought here to do a job, I signed a new deal and the owners know it takes time."

FSG's owners obviously saw things differently. There will also be a clamour for Liverpool to rectify previous mistakes and ensure either Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher, or both, are offered positions back at Anfield. There has been an obvious lack of local wisdom at the club since Gerrard's summer exit to Los Angeles.

Liverpool have spent almost £300million during Rodgers' reign and he went close to winning the title in 2014. He was rewarded with a new contract but never recovered from the sale of Luis Suarez 12 months ago.

Despite what he called a "change in technical direction" over the summer, results and performances did not improve from the end of last season and there was unrest at Anfield as boos rang out following sub-standard displays.

Although Rodgers' popularity with the fans subsided, there is no doubt many in his dressing room will be disappointed. Players such as captain Jordan Henderson felt they owed much to the manager, while Danny Ings and James Milner chose to move to Liverpool to work with him.

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