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Rodgers deserves more time

‘This year has absolutely flown by.’ That’s something you’re likely to hear a lot of at this time of year and, for most of us, that’s not particularly positive. Spare a thought for Brendan Rodgers, then. Back in April, the world probably seemed a much rosier place than it does now for the Reds’ manager.

Going into the last game of the month, his side were sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League table, three points clear of Manchester City in second and five ahead of Chelsea back in third. Three games were all that separated Liverpool from their first league title for 24 years. Then came the now infamous encounter with Chelsea at Anfield and that Steven Gerrard slip. It was a mistake Jose Mourinho later stated handed City the title.

Following the drama of that Sunday afternoon, Liverpool crumbled in their next encounter – throwing away a vital lead at Crystal Palace to draw 3-3 with the Eagles in yet another emotional rollercoaster of a match. That, in reality, was the final nail in the coffin for Rodgers and his side’s title ambitions.

Today, the former Chelsea reserve team manager finds his fortunes to have flipped almost 180°.

Liverpool are languishing in mid-table – behind Everton – and have recently been dumped out of the Champions League. This has left many questioning whether Rodgers will still be in the Anfield hot seat come the end of the season – with bookies such as betfair placing him as third favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his position. How unthinkable that would have been this time last year.

However, I for one still think he’s the right man for the job and, although I rarely agree with him, it seems Robbie Savage shares my view.

Yes, it’s true that Liverpool are falling well behind their pre-season expectation levels. But if you were to rewind the clock only as far as three or four years, the mere fact that they were in a position to be knocked out of the Champions League would’ve been a minor miracle.

Kopites must have been dreaming of a chance to play at Europe’s top level again during the tenures of Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. That time has come again, the prestige of Champions League football was bestowed on Liverpool once more and the man who steered that particular ship to shore was Rodgers.

His crew might be facing choppier waters this time around but how often is that the case when a club has to learn – or relearn – how to balance the demands of domestic and European football? Frequently, that’s how often.

Just look at Manchester City. With all the money they have, they’re arguably still finding their feet in top-level competition. Yes, they’ve had decidedly difficult groups to negotiate since first arriving on the scene and just as tricky knockout-round draws. But it’s been far from plain sailing nonetheless.

Liverpool, on the other hand, didn’t have the sort of financial muscle to handpick the world’s greatest talent ahead of an assault on the competition and were without the talismanic Luis Suarez – the man predominantly responsible for getting them there in the first place.

If that wasn’t a strong enough argument for Rodgers to rest his hat on, his team were also dealt the massive blow of losing their second top scorer from last season, Daniel Sturridge, ahead of the Champions League campaign. And, just to rub salt into the wounds, it was an injury the striker picked up while away on England duty.

Take Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas out of Chelsea; take Sergio Aguero and David Silva out of the City squad. It’s hard to argue that without these key players those teams would be anywhere near as strong as they currently are. Just look at how Chelsea performed last season without that duo.

Well, that sort of situation is exactly what Rodgers has to deal with at Liverpool right now and he’ll be able to turn it around if he’s given time, support and a bit of help in the transfer market.

It’s true that the Reds are missing more than firepower this year. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, so crucial to saving points for Liverpool during the 2013/14 season, has also been far from his best and has been dropped. And signings such as Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Mario Balotelli have struggled to settle into the side.

However, yet again, it’s time that the side need in order to gel. Those of us on the outside of football sometimes forget that it’s a far more complex game at elite level, with tactics playing such an important role – and no player can be expected to immediately slot into a new approach.
Finally, those calling for Rodgers to be sacked would do well to consider the situation at Chelsea, and perhaps pull back in their criticism a little.

Back in 2007, the news broke that Mourinho had left Stamford Bridge, supposedly by mutual consent, after winning back-to-back league titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup (for good measure). Why? Well, though it can’t be confirmed, a lack of Champions League triumph has been singled out as the primary factor (Mourinho left the club following a home draw against Norwegian outfit Rosenborg).

Season after season went by with manager after manager – appointed, then dismissed, by Roman Abramovich – promising, then failing to deliver the European title. Of course, they did succeed in reaching that particular summit in 2012 following an unforgettable night in Munich but the manager in place at the time, Roberto Di Matteo, was soon shown the door the very next season.

And where do the club now find themselves? Back with Mourinho in charge and looking set to enjoy their finest ever season. There’s a lesson on consistency and stability in there somewhere (and we’ve not even discussed the story of Alex Ferguson).

There’s no doubt that Liverpool are looking at a real slog through Christmas and beyond. But, despite how contrasting their current season might be when compared to last, Liverpool fans need to believe that Rodgers can wake them up from this nightmare. He was the man who made them dream, after all.

ROONEY WANTED A POINT

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says that he felt that his team deserved at least a point from the recent Manchester derby. City managed to claim a fourth consecutive win in the derby after Sergio Aguero’s second-half goal was enough to give them a 1-0 win.

Rooney was making his comeback from suspension against City. He is one of the few players in this United squad who has excelled previously in Manchester derbies. Even though he had not played in the last few weeks, Rooney showed no signs of rustiness and was one of the better players over the 90 minutes.

Despite being reduced to 10 men after Chris Smalling was sent off in the first half, United showed a lot of confidence to create several chances. Rooney, in particular, went on a wonderful solo run that deserved a goal. As it is, United still remain without a victory away from home this season. They also lost the first match since the 5-3 defeat against Leicester City. Rooney was disappointed with the outcome of the encounter. However, he says that United can take heart from the performance that they showed despite going down to 10 men with more than an hour remaining. The result sees United at 10th place in the table with just 13 points.

“We responded well and defended well [after conceding]. I felt for long periods of the game we were the better team. We took control of the game with 10 men and created the better chances. We were unfortunate not to get anything out of the match and we’re disappointed to leave with no points after a great effort. Chris is disappointed. It’s tough when you get sent off, especially in a derby and with such a long time to go in the game it made it difficult for the rest of us to hold on. I’m sure Chris will learn from that,” said Rooney.

WOLVES NEED STABILITY

In the time lapse of 9 months, the squad of Wolverhampton Wanderers has been managed by 3 different coaches as Terry Connor was in charge of the team in February of 2012 but was sacked only 4 months later.

Stale Solbakken and Dean Saunders would later take control of the squad but it was only during a limited period of time until Kenny Jackett was elected as the man to restore balance to the managerial staff of the club.

Kenny Jackett managed to guide Wolverhampton back to the Championship as well as going on to set a new record for the club after reaching 103 points in the League One.

Now that Wolverhampton has made their return to the Championship League, new challenges and obstacles await not only Kenny Jackett but also his squad but according to the 52 years old English manager of Wolverhampton, he is excited about whats to come in the 2nd highest tier of England.

Kenny Jackett told reporters: “It is an exciting challenge and it is one we are looking forward to. It’s one really now that all of us are ready for. All of the clubs are going for promotion. That’s where Wolves want to be, in the Premier League. Is that going to be easy? Obviously not. How we set about that task, is a big one. We have to really concentrate on ourselves now and be as strong as we possibly can in the Championship.”

After suffering back to back relegation seasons, Kenny Jackett arrived to Wolverhampton as the savior for the club as he helped the team in earning their promotion to the Championship League by setting a new record and he is even aiming on making a return to the Premier League in the near future.

JOSE BACKS TORRES

The Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho might have said that Fernando Torres still has a future at Stamford Bridge, but, as thing are shaping up, it’s hard to imagine the Spanish striker playing in England next season.

Torres who had come to Chelsea with a big reputation has managed to do very little for the club so far. In this season particularly, he has been highly disappointing. Yes, he has scored a few goals in the Champions League matches, but, he, overall, has had an under par season till this point of time and the Chelsea management is reported to have made up the mind to offload him during the upcoming summer.

There are still some important matches to take place in the ongoing season. So, Torres has a chance to make a mark even after so many failures, but, considering his form in the recent past, it isn’t likely to happen. He has looked a pretty mediocre player in the last few matches to be perfectly honest.

There have been a lot of speculations about Torres’ possible future destination. Some reports say that he might be returning back to his former club Atletico Madrid at the end of this season; while, some say that it might be Italy where he would head to.

The Italian club which is believed to be interested in Torres is Inter Milan. One of the leading newspapers in Italy reported that yesterday.

Inter was earlier eager to secure the services of the City player Edin Dzeko, but, now, it’s Torres who has become their priority.

Apart from Torres, a couple of other experienced Chelsea players are also supposed to leave once the season finishes. Mourinho is keen to bring in some new faces into the Blues squad during the summer transfer window.

NO TRANSFER BAN

Barcelona’s transfer window ban will not allow the Spanish club on either signing or selling any players for the upcoming 14 months but according to the Vice-President, Manuel Arroyo he is confident that their appeal will change things around.

We’re working on an appeal that will give us an interim suspension of the transfer ban. We want to have a normal summer. We’re convinced that we will be able to sign new players,” Barca Vice-President Manel Arroyo told The Daily Mail.

“It’s a significant ban and our legal team is working so that we’ll be able to sign new players this summer.”
The Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta revealed details about the future of Jose Pinto as he will be leaving the club during the summer.

“Our conversations with Pinto have been clear and transparent. We are continuing to work knowing what situation we are in, but things change every week and we are ready for anything.”

“When one has a plan, one must remember that life has a way of taking many twists and turns. He knows our position and the lines of communication are very clear.” Zubizarreta told reporters.

It will be a huge accomplishment and is going to make an enormous deal if Barcelona can indeed appeal their recent sanctions as it will allow them on concluding their transfer involving Marc-Andre ter Stegen which is the main focus of the club at the moment.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has already stated that even if his transfer with Barcelona comes crumbling down, he still wants to exit his current club Borussia Monchengladbach which means that this is the last chance that the Spanish club has on securing the services of the 21 years old shot-stopper.

HARD FOUGHT VICTORY

Manchester United secured their 2nd consecutive victory as they defeated West Bromwich when playing at the Hawthorns on Saturday which is a crucial triumph for David Moyes as they will have to play against Liverpool, Olympiakos and Manchester City in March.

Wayne Rooney expressed his appreciation for the Manchester United fans as the Englishman labeled them to be ‘brilliant’’.

“Great result Saturday. Fans were brilliant as always and I’m sure it’ll be the same on Sunday against Liverpool, always a big atmosphere,” Rooney wrote on Twitter following the conclusion of the match.

Even with the recent series of positive results that Manchester United has been picking up in the Premier League, David Moyes and his players have their work cut out for them if they want to continue dreaming on securing a Champions League qualification spot for the upcoming season.
The squad of David Moyes has seen Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham getting further and further out of the reach of Manchester United and Wayne Rooney confessed that it has been very difficult seeing their opponents experiencing such a positive season.

“To see Manchester City doing well, and particularly Liverpool, is really difficult. It’s not nice when we know we are capable of being up there challenging and we haven’t been doing that this season’’.

“However, it means we have to step up and get back up there because the feeling we’ve had this season is not a nice feeling at all to have. We have to keep working, keep progressing and finish the season stronger.” Rooney admitted.

Manchester United has failed on defending their Premier League title in this season and at this point all that they are wishing to do is finishing the season in the top 5 spots of the league.

ROONEY EXTENSION?

David Moyes is weighing his option and analyzing on who should be the next captain of Manchester United after Nemanja Vidic makes his way out of the club at the end of the current season as the Serbian defender has already confirmed.

Wayne Rooney is being lined up as a candidate on receiving the armband for the next season but the Scottish coach told the former Everton player what it means and what it represents if he is given the role as captain.

Moyes said: ‘’We want people to show leadership qualities, not just on the pitch but off the pitch. It is a big standing to be captain of Manchester United. The person who takes over has to understand what it means for the club, the responsibility it carries, what is required of you as well. I think we have a lot of leaders in the dressing room and they will all get a chance to stake their claim.’’

The head boss of Manchester United, David Moyes sees the role of captain as someone that can represent the club not only inside the pitch but outside of it as well as he has to project confidence and leadership skills which will help the team during some of their tougher matches.

Wayne Rooney has stated his desire on remaining with Manchester United for a couple more years as he has an objective that he wants to accomplish and that is to break the goal-scoring record which was set by Sir. Bobby Charlton as he managed to score 249 goals in all competitions for Manchester United.

The former Everton player has already spent 10 years playing at Old Trafford and has placed himself in the 4th spot of the club’s all-time leading goal-scorers having scored 208 goals and he wants to score much more.

ROONEY RULED OUT

David Moyes has confirmed that strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie will once again be unavailable for selection, but this time for the key match against Chelsea.

Manchester United are in a position where they must win all of their remaining matches in order to even hope about winning the title. They face a huge task between them and creating this run since Chelsea will be the opponents to United on Sunday. They make the trip to Stamford Bridge knowing that a victory against one of the inform teams in the Premier league will not be easy.

Chelsea have gone on an imperious run of form since the 3-2 defeat against Stoke City. They are especially strong at home where they have dropped just two points all season. This is the second best home record in the division. Rooney and van Persie have by far been the best attacking talent United have had in recent years, and they have been over reliant on the two players under Moyes. This is due to the lack of quality in midfield, which has become apparent in recent weeks without the duo.

Moyes has confirmed that Rooney has come back to training, but he is just a little short of fitness to play in this encounter. Van Persie, meanwhile, has been out with a muscular injury for several weeks.

“Wayne’s come back fresh but not ready for Chelsea. He’s doing some running and looking good. He’s had a break, done some strengthening work on his groin. Hopefully he’ll benefit, but not for this game. I’m hoping Robin’s got a good chance of training at the start of next week. If i could get him back on the grass it would be a great boost for us – he’s a really important player and one we’ve missed,” said Moyes.

MESSI SIDELINED

The star of Barcelona and 4 times FIFA player of the year will be left in the sidelines for the rest of the year as he picked up an injury in his left hamstring and probably leave him out of the running for the FIFA Ballon d’Or in January.

These past few months have been a time to forget for the Argentine superstar who has been plagued with injuries and problems leaving him not able to play his usual role for Barcelona.

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or award since 2009 while C.Ronaldo has been following close behind in 2nd place in the last 2 years but due to his injuries it does seem as if the Argentine will win it another consecutive year.

Playing 155 matches in 28 months is proving to be too much for the 26 years old that will be taking a rest for the remainder of the year and nothing else to do than wait for a full recovery and watch his team from the sidelines.
Barcelona is topping La Liga with 37 points, Athletic Madrid is following them close behind with 34 points and Real Madrid are sitting in 3rd place with 31 points.

This may be the break that not only C.Ronaldo needs to claim the FIFA Ballon D’Or trophy but also for Real Madrid to catch up to Barcelona as they will be missing out from their best player not only in La Liga but also in the Champions League.

Messi marked his 10th anniversary with the Catalan club on Saturday and he expressed what it feels like to be with Barcelona since he was a youngster.

“It was a very important moment in my career because I realised a dream that I had since I was very young,” Messi told Barca TV in an interview.

200 GOALS

Manchester United recently had a new entrant into the top goal scorers list after striker Wayne Rooney managed to score his 200th goal for the club in the 4-2 win over Bayern Leverkusen.

The German club were the visitors to Old Trafford in the first match of the Champions league group stages. United were coming into the match on the back of a poor run of form, which has seen them win only one match in the last four. Hence, there was pressure on manager David Moyes to get three points from his first Champions League group match incharge.

Rooney helped him achieve exactly that by managing to score 2 goals, which also saw him move into the elite club at Manchester United. He has now scored 200 goals for the club, which is an achievement only a handful of players can boast. He is also very close to the record held by Sir Bobby Charlton, who has 249 goals to his name. Moyes has backed the 27-year-old to break this record as well in the near future. Rooney came very close to living United in the summer after interest from Chelsea.

Mourinho also hinted that Rooney wanted to leave United because he was not happy at the club.

“The reception I got when I was substituted was amazing and meant a lot so I want to thank the fans for that. The Manchester United fans have been brilliant since the start of the season, their support home and away is always top drawer and means a lot to the team. The best way to repay the fans is with good team performances. I’m happy to be in a position where I get the opportunity to score goals – and long may that continue,” said Rooney after the Bayern Leverkusen match.