Under-fire Rodgers fights for survival
25 September 2015, 09:19
Liverpool -Beleaguered Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers faces a fight to save his job as Aston Villa visit Anfield on Saturday.
Rodgers' side have been deeply unconvincing so far this season, struggling both for goals and for any sense of the attractive attacking style which their boss brought to Anfield when he arrived from Swansea in 2012.
The Reds have gone four league matches without a win, suffering morale-sapping defeats against West Ham and Manchester United in the process, and needed a penalty shoot-out to avoid an embarrassing loss against fourth tier minnows Carlisle in the League Cup at Anfield on Wednesday.
Liverpool have been swift to deny reports that former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has been approached to take charge.
But Jurgen Klopp, recently of Borussia Dortmund, is another potential replacement eyeing the Anfield job and it is increasingly apparent that Rodgers is on borrowed time unless results improve dramatically.
Last Sunday's 1-1 draw at home to Norwich left Rodgers' team 13th in the Premier League, and failure to beat Villa would leave the manager in serious trouble.
First-team coach Gary McAllister, a former Liverpool player and Villa assistant manager, understands the expectation levels at Anfield.
"The manager knows the challenge, he knows the job," McAllister said. "He's been here a few years now. He knows what's expected.
"For a young manager, he's got experience, there's no doubt about that. He knows what it takes to get results in this league."
McAllister has also suggested that Liverpool's players need to show they can handle the pressure of playing for a club who are expected to win trophies, yet have lifted just one in the last nine years and none in Rodgers' reign.
"A couple of poor results and the pressure comes on," he said. "But this is what top players thrive on.
"It's something you've got to want to drive you."
Rodgers has not been helped by a growing injury list.
Although Daniel Sturridge is back in action after five months out with a torn hip muscle, fellow striker Christian Benteke is facing two weeks out with a hamstring strain sustained against Norwich.
It means that Benteke, signed from Villa in July will miss out on a reunion with his former club, and is also set to be absent for the Merseyside derby next weekend.
It is a significant setback for a side who will also be without captain Jordan Henderson, sidelined until November as he recovers from an operation on a broken bone in his foot.
Like Rodgers, Villa manager Tim Sherwood finds himself in the spotlight with his side without a win in the Premier League since a victory at Bournemouth on the opening day of the season.
They lost their local derby at home to West Bromwich Albion last weekend before picking up a morale-boosting win against their other hated rivals, Birmingham, in the League Cup on Tuesday.
"It's a good confidence boost," said Sherwood.
"I believe that points tally-wise we haven't got what we have deserved this season.
"The performances have been encouraging with a new group of players.
"You can take the West Brom game out of that. But even then it's fine margins.
"But it's about wins. I know the fans are interested in wins.
"They are not dissecting the game like I do every week.
"I am just delighted for the boys. Hopefully that can be a platform for us to move on."