Liverpool FC: Rodgers refuses to blame players after shock defeat

Liverpool Boss Brendan Rodgers avoided blaming his players after their home Premier League defeat to West Brom.

The Reds dominated the vast majority of the tie at Anfield, but slipped to a shock 2-0 loss when Gareth McAuley and Romelu Lukaku found the net late after skipper Steven Gerrard failed to convert from a spot kick in the final quarter.

Rodgers admitted his disappointment following the defeat but insisted he could not fault the efforts of his players.

“These players always react very well. They were very disappointed, like we all were, last night because we wanted to make our home form better in the league.  That’s something we’d done, especially of late. We entered into the game against West Brom with the best defensive home record in the league, so that shows the mark of improvement we were making as a group.  It’s something that left the players disappointed, but they will react in the right manner. They’re good guys here, they want to work well and they’re very good at moving on. That’s something we’ll have to do if we want to progress.”

Liverpool are now down to ninth spot in the table, a gaping 12 points adrift from fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. With 12 matches remaining do you think the Reds will climb back to finish fourth in the table ?

Look how wrong I was over Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola 1

Yesterday I predicted that Pep Guardiola was going to join Man City.  I thought my views were well informed given his recent comments about wanting to manage in England, and having looked at the likely clubs in the Premiership I was pretty pleased with my analysis.

Last night I got home from work to hear that Guardiola is confirmed as Bayern Munich boss –

The former Barcelona coach, who is on a year-long sabbatical in Manhattan after leaving Camp Nou last summer, has agreed a three-year deal with the Bundesliga club and will replace Jupp Heynckes on 1 July.

The Catalan will become the highest-earning manager in the club’s history – it has been mooted that he struck a separate sponsorship deal with Adidas, Bayern’s kit supplier – at around €10m (£8.3m) a year, a figure he might have eclipsed at any of his other suitors, with Chelsea having made their admiration clear last March and in the summer.

Yet Guardiola appears to have been attracted by the similarities between Bayern and Barça, both of whom thrive essentially on bringing players through their youth system and relying on their managers to oversee the first-team set-up, with others charged with recruitment.

The deal with Bayern was signed before Christmas and confirmed on Wednesday.  Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the Bayern Munich CEO said:

“Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world.  We are sure that he can make not just Bayern but all of German football shine. We are very pleased that we have managed to convince someone who was coveted and contacted by many top clubs to come to Bayern.”

Heynckes, who had steered Bayern to a nine-point lead in the Bundesliga at the start of the winter break – in his third spell at the club – had already indicated his intention to retire when his contract expires on 30 June.  Uli Hoeness the Bayern Munich chairman said:

“Only someone of the calibre of coach Pep Guardiola could be considered an adequate replacement for Jupp Heynckes”

Pep Guardiola to join Man City

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola seems to be closer to a decision as he expressed a strong interest coaching in the Premiership after his New York sabbatical is over. He is London attending the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.  Having done a little bit of reading around it seems most likely that Guardiola will land at Man City for several reasons.

  • Aitor ‘Txiki’ Begiristain is Man City’s recently hired Director of Football was responsible in 2008 for promoting the then unknown Guardiola, the coach of their B team, as Frank Rijkaard’s successor.
  • Man City’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, was Barca’s CFO during Guardiola’s tenure.
  • Mancini has struggled with success in Europe despite spending millions and I can’t see City’s owners continuing with him beyond this season bar a miracle taking place.
  • Man City also have one of the best youth academies in the country, having produced more professionals than any other Premiership side including a number of internationals.  Guardiola is obvious very passionate about youth development having handed Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Jeffren, and Thiago Alcantara their Barcelona debuts after nurturing their careers in the B side.

Chelsea don’t have the reputation for Guardiola – they don’t focus on nurturing and looking after players – instead they are clearly run by the whims of Abramovich as owner, just look at the purchases of Andrey Shevchenko and Fernando Torres, the loss of Didier Drogba, the likely loss of Frank Lampard, and the revolving door that the coaching staff seem to go around.  I see it much more likely that Jose Mourinho and Abramovich repair their relationship and he makes a return to the EPL.

Sir Alex Ferguson is the problem for Guardiola to take on the role at Man Utd.  He isn’t looking like leaving soon unless he has a sudden change of heart or he decides his health is more important which from all his statements seems highly unlikely – and given his high level of success the Glaziers are unlikely to dispatch of Ferguson.

Given Guardiola has a clear preference for the English Premier League I believe that PSG and Bayern Munich are out of the running, which only leaves the dark horse of Arsenal.  He could be brilliant for the club, but I’m not sure the club’s board have got the imagination to walk away from Arsene Wenger and to engage with another brilliant tactician – although this season’s results so far could move this up their agenda.