Monday 11 December 2017

'Next five games crucial' - Ray Houghton wants Carlo Ancelotti in for daunting fixture list

Ancelotti and Klopp are front runners for the Liverpool job
Ancelotti and Klopp are front runners for the Liverpool job
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Former Liverpool star Ray Houghton has called on the Anfield club to secure a 'big name' replacement for Brendan Rodgers as soon as possible.

The Reds face a daunting fixture list when they return after the international break with trips to Spurs (Oct. 17), Chelsea (Oct. 31) and Manchester City (November 21) and home games with Southampton (Oct. 25) and Crystal Palace (Nov. 8) on the horizon.

"Whoever takes over has to be a big name, it has to be someone who has experience, who has won something like an Ancelloti or a Klopp, why, because the next five games for Liverpool will tell them what kind of season they will have," Houghton told Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One.

"They have Chelsea coming up, Tottenham coming up and Man City and all away from home. The home games are against Crystal Palace and Southampton, two of the in-form teams. The next five games are going to shape their season and dictate whether they are at the top or its going to be mid-table mediocrity."

Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti are the favourites to take over the helm and Houghton has a clear preference for the Italian.

"I'd go for Ancelotti, he's a born winner. Everywhere he's been, he's been a major success and if they brought him in that would appease the Liverpool fans," he added.

The sacking of Brendan Rodgers, just a couple of hours after the Merseyside derby draw with Everton, was announced on Sunday night, despite the fact the Reds are only three points off the Barclays Premier League's top four.

There is a feeling among owners Fenway Sports Group that a new man will get better results and performances from the existing squad of players.

The Northern Irishman received considerable resources, spending almost £300million and, while a thrilling Luis Suarez-inspired side came within touching distance of a first title in over two decades in the season before last, there has been a gradual decline ever since.

Houghton was not surprised with the decision but believes that the Antrim native shouldn't shoulder all the blame for Liverpool's poor spending.

"They started the season with two good wins over Stoke and Bournemouth but since then they've only won once, which was against Aston Villa and in the other eight matches they have had two losses and six draws," he said.

"You can understand why they have made the decision but the decision wasn't about drawing with Everton yesterday, I think it was the 3-0 defeat to West Ham followed by the 1-1 draw against Norwich. That's when the owners thought about making a change and going in a different direction.

"I don't think there is any accountability at Liverpool.

"They say he's spent the money but I don't think he has, in the coming weeks from Brendan on who exactly has bought the players. It's a a committee that make the decisions at Liverpool and I wonder how many Brendan wanted or recommended for the club.

"I think he was working with his hands tied around his back in some respects. If it was down to him, you could say 'you have to go because your signings haven't been good' but because it's been the committee you can give him some leeway.2

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