Speaking in a room containing portraits of his predecessors as Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers claimed the pressures at Anfield surpassed that of any other Premier League club.
Had Liverpool not beaten Aston Villa, the demands for his removal after more than three years at the helm might have become unanswerable. Saturday’s 3-2 victory has given Rodgers a breathing space before Sunday’s Merseyside derby but he acknowledged there are some at the club who want him removed.
He refused to name names, but it is widely understood that he is referring to media pundits Graeme Souness, Jamie Carragher and Mark Lawrenson, who have all openly questioned his tactics.
“There has been a frenzy to get me out of here,” moaned Rodgers. “There is no question about that. Whether that is Liverpool hysteria or a big-club hysteria, I am not so sure. The scrutiny here is, to me, greater than any other club. As a manager you know that and have to deal with it.”
In the room were portraits of Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish, for whom pressure was taking Liverpool to league titles and European Cups.
There was also a portrait of Gérard Houllier, who also resented the influence former Liverpool players had in the media.
Rodgers claimed that his achievement in taking Liverpool to within touching distance of the Premier League title last year has been forgotten amid the scramble to get him out. “I have shown in the early stages of my management that – without being arrogant – with a talented group of players I can compete at the top end of the league.
“There are some very short memories in football and we built and produced a team to excite people throughout Europe and that should have won the league. It didn’t, but nobody expected us to be anywhere near the top four.”
The fact remains that, under Rodgers, Liverpool who carry the fifth-highest wage bill in the Premier League, have underperformed in two of his three seasons, and far from “exciting Europe” in the Champions League, Liverpool disappeared without trace. However, Rodgers argued that, from Luis Suarez to Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard, he has consistently lost leading players.
“I know how to manage top players but when those players are not available and you have to piece it all back together, that takes time. Then, all the good work gets forgotten.
“That is sad. I am the same man who nearly won us the league but better. If you give me the tools, I will do the work.”Reuse content