The Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, has been given the responsibility to restore the club’s fortunes next season after agreeing a substantial new plan which the owners are satisfied can re-establish Champions League status.
Rodgers went into his meeting with chairman Tom Werner and Fenway Sports Group president Michael Gordon secure in the knowledge that the volume of public discussion surrounding his future did not equate to his job being on the line. But there was an agreement in the two-hour meeting that the outcome of the 2014-15 campaign had not been good enough and Rodgers has signed up to plans which have been laid for an improvement. The discussions on the subject of first team football were said to have been “productive”.
Quite how radical those plans are remains unclear. It is also unclear whether the transfer committee which has sanctioned expensive signings will remain its current form. It is possible that the club’s head of recruitment, Dave Fallows, and Michael Edwards, the director of performance analysis, may carry the can for last season.
Their statistically driven approach to recruitment has been a key factor in a transfer market strategy which saw the club spend £110m last summer on players who have not materially improved the squad. Gordon, managing director Ian Ayre and Rodgers also make up the committee.
Possible changes to the way Liverpool go about the new season may also include the recruitment of an experienced individual to work alongside Rodgers. It could be argued that those in his own management team are acolytes and that he could be challenged more.
The pressure will certainly be on Rodgers like never before when the new campaign begins, as he finds himself required to take the club back into the top four.
The progress Liverpool have made in securing the services of James Milner have pointed to the security of the manager’s position. Milner, whose signing is likely to be announced after his Manchester City contact expires on 30 June, has been attracted on substantially lower wages than the £165,000 he was being offered at City. Though the central midfield role available after Steven Gerrard’s departure is attractive, he is likely to have wanted assurances about Rodgers’ continued presence at the club before entering into detailed contract discussions.
The signing of Burnley’s Danny Ings is now imminent. Liverpool will also try to sign Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke and Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne.
As well as the post-season review, Werner is also examining redevelopment work at Anfield and at the academy.
McClaren edges closer to Newcastle job
Newcastle United moved a step closer to appointing Steve McClaren as their new manager after the club opted not to pursue a possible deal with Patrick Vieira. McClaren, the former England, Middlesbrough and Twente manager, is understood to have held talks over the St James’ Park job and is now the clear favourite to land the role.
Vieira, 38, who is currently Manchester City’s under-21 manager, had been considered as a replacement for caretaker John Carver but had differences of opinion with the Newcastle hierarchy over recruitment and transfer policy. McClaren was sacked by Derby last month.
Elsewhere, Nigel Adkins was appointed Sheffield United manager and Blackpool named former West Ham United assistant Neil McDonald as their new head coach.
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