Monday 23 April 2018

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers facing axe after Stoke humiliation

Stoke city 6 Liverpool 1

Stoke City's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring their sixth goal with Charlie Adam

Chris Bascombe

Brendan Rodgers accepted his reign as Liverpool manager has been plunged into doubt following a humiliating final-day defeat to Stoke City.

The Ulsterman knows his immediate future in now in the hands of American owners Fenway Sports Group after a 6-1 defeat he described as "embarrassing". It is Liverpool's worst defeat since they lost 7-2 to Tottenham in 1963 and resulted in the manager issuing an apology to fans.

Liverpool conceded five in the first half. The consequences for Rodgers could be severe. Asked directly if he accepted there would be questions about his future, Rodgers said: "Absolutely, I have always said if the owners want me to go, I go. It is as simple as that. But I still feel I have a lot to offer here.

"Last season, when everything was working well, you have the support of everyone, but performances like today do not help you. I am fully aware of that.

"There is a lot that has happened here which has made the job difficult and we have kept fighting right to the very end. But I totally understand that.

Read more: 17 quotes from Brendan Rodgers that will make you cringe

Read more: Brendan Rodgers: If Liverpool's owners 'want me to go, then I go. It's as simple as that'

"My pride makes me want to be in this job. I love this job and I love this club and it has been a difficult season, but like I said, if the owners ever say to me to go, I go. I understand that we need to be better than that we have shown in recent weeks.

"There are a number of key elements of the performance today that didn't surprise me, if I am being honest.

"There are areas which will we address in the summer that will help us become much more competitive and consistent and be up there from the beginning of the season. We as a club will work very hard to make that happen.

"The (supporters) have every right to be angry. That was awful in the first half. Absolutely awful.

"This season has been a tough season and towards the end, this period now we have come up short.

Read more: Liverpool transfer news: James Milner to snub Arsenal and move to Anfield

"We haven't won enough games in this last couple of months, so they have every right to be angry and frustrated and of course I take full responsibility for that as the manager.

"But our job now is to go away and reflect on the season. There is an awful lot of work to do. Our job is to go and fix that and make sure we come back with the motivation greater than ever to push on next season.

Brendan Rodgers can't hide his frustration as Liverpool slump to a heavy defeat at Stoke
Brendan Rodgers can't hide his frustration as Liverpool slump to a heavy defeat at Stoke

"We have finished in sixth, which is where we deserve to finish and we have to start today the climb to get back up again.

"All the supporters connected with Liverpool today will be embarrassed by that and deserve an apology."

Liverpool have spent much of the last 12 months saying goodbye. Goodbye to Luis Suarez; goodbye to Steven Gerrard; goodbye to the Champions League; goodbye to the scintillating football of last season; goodbye to any sense of trust those in charge of football operations know what they're doing.

They are probably going to say goodbye to Raheem Sterling during the summer and although Rodgers suggested before the trip to Stoke he was "150 per cent" sure he would not be joining the list of farewells, few are able to fight his corner after this humiliating and shameful afternoon in Staffordshire.

At the Britannia Stadium, Liverpool said goodbye to their pride.

Read more: Sterling feels ire of Reds fans after being dropped

Read more: Liverpool say goodbye to Steven Gerrard with their biggest league defeat in 52 years

Mark Hughes' side scored at will in the first half, exposing a team and club that has been sleepwalking since their second-placed finish 12 months ago.

Disgust and disbelief was the response of the fans. Rodgers' team selection was strange, omitting Sterling from the starting line-up because of his troubled week, but persisting with him as a substitute where he could still incur the wrath of the fans. Sterling was booed as he strolled past the fans before kick-off. Within 45 minutes, all his teammates were receiving the same venom, only Gerrard spared.

The captain did not deserve to be a part of this. What kind of club is he leaving behind? And more pertinently, how can such wisdom be vacating the premises when we see what those in power consider good enough to be a Liverpool footballer? Gerrard would score a consolation on 70 minutes, applauded by all parts of the stadium. It was a poignant moment, but he could not clear this debris as he has done before.

Stoke were ruthless and full of the attacking verve and tenacity so lacking in their opponents - but they must not have believed how easy it was.

Liverpool's set-up was inept. Emre Can was consistently exposed at right-back, making Marko Arnautovic seem more like Cristiano Ronaldo. Simon Mignolet pushed Charlie Adam's effort into the gleeful path of Mame Diouf for the first on 22 minutes.

Diouf's second should have been stopped by Mignolet and the errors continued when Can headed directly to Jon Walters six yards out. He scored on the second attempt.

Lucas claimed the assist for the fourth, gifting Adam with an opportunity on the edge of the box on 42 minutes.

Then Steven Nzonzi had the freedom of midfield to score a fifth before half-time, and Crouch ensured the last word would not be Gerrard's late on.

It is goodbye to this pitiful season for Liverpool. For Rodgers?

He must hope FSG believe he has enough credit in the bank from last year. Given the speed with which the owners removed Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool's season of goodbyes may be extended in the summer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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