Liverpool v Chelsea: Brendan Rodgers losing no sleep – just enjoying life at Premier League summit

The pressure is on Man City or Chelsea, who have spent that money and expect to win the league, says Rodgers

As his mentor frets and flails, lashing out at all the usual suspects, from the Premier League to referees and fate itself, Brendan Rodgers is sleeping very deeply.

When Jose Mourinho takes Chelsea to Liverpool tomorrow the atmosphere around the stadium will be fevered, but at the heart of Anfield the mood is oddly calm. “People come up to me and say that I must not be sleeping at night,” said Rodgers; “well, I haven’t slept better. People talk about pressure and you see our players and they are really enjoying their football. I am really enjoying being top of the league.

“The pressure is on Manchester City or Chelsea, who have spent that money and expect to win the league. The only pressure on us is from within. If you spend around £100m, then you are expected to be challenging for the league. And if we don’t win it, then it won’t be the end of the world.”

That is what sets the Liverpool manager apart from his rivals for the title. For Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City, failure to win the Premier League might not be the end of the world but it could be the beginning of the end.

The men from Abu Dhabi did not pour their oil money into Manchester to win the League Cup and Mourinho’s demeanour has echoes of his last days in Madrid. There, he had fallen out with Real’s captain, Iker Casillas, the Spanish media and the men running the Bernabeu, who considered his displays of petulance and rudeness unbecoming to Spain’s greatest football club.

It should be different. Mourinho is many things to many people but to Rodgers he is the man who gave him his biggest break by making him head coach of the Chelsea academy. It is something that should give Mourinho a significant psychological advantage.

It was a hold Sir Alex Ferguson knew how to employ. Steve Bruce, perhaps the most successful of all his former players who have gone into management, never recorded a win over the man he still referred to as “gaffer”. When Bryan Robson oversaw his only victory over Manchester United, a 3-2 win for Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in December 1998, Ferguson was absent, dealing with a family bereavement.

The education Rodgers received at the Chelsea training ground at Cobham was a good one, with similarities to the challenge he faced at Melwood. Like Mourinho with Bobby Robson at Porto and Barcelona, Rodgers was not afraid to push himself forward. Glen Johnson remembered him as “always in among the first team, working very closely with Mourinho”.

Rodgers recalled: “From my perspective, I was preparing to be a manager and I could look at his ideas and the way they were put into place. Ten years ago, Chelsea were striving to be winners, they hadn’t won the league for 50-odd years. A decade on and the club has become synonymous with winning. Chelsea had to go through some dark periods in order to win and I learnt a lot through that.”

Rodgers knows Mourinho’s threat to employ a weakened team at Anfield is not an idle one. Should Liverpool lose, the main beneficiary will not be Chelsea but Pellegrini, a man Mourinho detests – and any result will seriously drain his resources before they face Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge. For all his frothing petulance, Mourinho is still on course to become the only man to win the European Cup with three different clubs.

“There is no doubt that if Jose puts out the same team on Sunday and the same team on Wednesday there is going to be a cost,” said Rodgers. “It was the same for Manchester City. They played us in a really intense game and Manuel admitted he felt the cost of that when they dropped points to Sunderland. But whatever team Chelsea put out, it will cost more and be more experienced than ours.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test