OpinionJohn Aldridge

Aldo - Rodgers to blame but he should not go

John AldridgeBy John Aldridge
Rodgers under pressure after poor season
Rodgers under pressure after poor season

Brendan Rodgers was the man to blame for the humiliating 6-1 defeat at Stoke on the final day of the Premier League season – and the Liverpool manager now faces a summer where he cannot afford any more mistakes.

What on earth was Rodgers doing with his team selection at a venue where everyone knows you need strong men, battlers who are willing to give their all to a cause?  Why did he pick a lightweight team that was predictably torn apart?

I don’t have answers to those questions, but the memories of that disastrous result at Stoke will take a long time to fade.

Brendan went into the game without a natural striker and tried to play Philippe Coutinho in a false No.9 role. At least I think that is what he was trying to do, but whatever it was, it turned out to be a disaster.

I was sat with Ronnie Whelan and John Wark at Dublin airport last Sunday when the Liverpool team was confirmed for the Stoke game and we all struggled to work out what the manager was up to.

The end result was a bloody disaster. To be 5-0 down at half-time was a disgrace and the Liverpool fans who travelled in their numbers to the Britannia Stadium to see Steven Gerrard’s last game had every right to be angry.

Regular readers of my Sunday World column will know I have supported Brendan throughout his time as manager, but I would suggest he now faces a few months that will test his credentials to lead my former club towards a brighter future.

Several things need to fall into place for Liverpool and Rodgers in the next few months as they look to rebuild after what can only be viewed as a disappointing season, and the truth must be that they have lost what was a glorious chance to leap back into big-time for years to come.

In the end, Manchester United took just five points from their last six games of the season and that should have opened the door for Liverpool to get back into the mix for a fourth place finish, yet Rodgers and his team were not up to the job and their comprehensive defeats against Crystal Palace and Stoke to finish the season set alarm bells ringing.

What happens next? For me, the first priority is not changing the manager and rather altering a transfer policy that is doomed to failure in my eyes.

Rodgers has signed up to work in a structure that sees the club target young, promising players and try to turn them into stars. A nice idea in principle, but we need to abandon that plan for the time being – because Liverpool need to sign some strong characters this summer.

They need real men who will toughen up a team that were brushed aside too often as they finished a massive 25 points behind Premier League champions Chelsea.

With Gerrard gone, where are the leaders in the Liverpool side? I just don’t see them. Jordan Henderson is still a young man who is growing into a role as a potential captain, but is Martin Skrtel (left) leadership material? He’s too quiet for that role in my view.

Every team needs a backbone and that comes from powerful figures who can drag a team to victory on days when they are not at their best, so I want to see Liverpool signing a couple of proven, experienced and hopefully world-class performers to bolster a team lacking in direction.

I fear for Liverpool after the events of this season and especially the displays of the last few weeks. A massive rebuilding job is required and we can only hope it goes a bit better than the one overseen by Rodgers and all at the club last summer.