Any manager would be delighted with Jordan and Stevie in team says Reds boss
Brendan Rodgers delivered a calm and calculated response to Alex Ferguson’s latest diatribe in the direction of Anfield.
The Liverpool boss must have been caught in two minds as he faced up to the inevitable questioning ahead of tomorrow’s visit of West Brom.
To rise to the bait would only fuel publicity for the former Manchester United manager’s new autobiography.
But to play a straight bat would have left Rodgers open to accusations of failing to defend his club and his players.
“I’m not here to publicise his book, he’s had enough coverage this week as it is,” said Rodgers as he picked his words carefully.
Ferguson’s criticism of Rodgers’ appointment was brushed aside and his ludicrous assessment that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was “not a top, top player” was dismissed as just not credible.
However, Rodgers did take exception to Ferguson’s bizarre comments about Henderson. Talking about a player he has never worked with, the Scot claimed that the young midfielder’s running style will cause him problems later in his career. Rodgers believes the way Ferguson singled out Gerrard and Henderson was borne out of frustration at his failure to take them to Old Trafford.
He admits in his book that he tried and failed to sign the Reds skipper in 2005, while United were also heavily linked with Henderson before he made a £16million move to Anfield in the summer of 2011.
“In terms of the personal stuff about Stevie and Jordan, sometimes it can be like that when you don’t get players that you want,” Rodgers said.
It’s fair to say that Ferguson’s concerns about Henderson, who has been ever present for the Reds in the Premier League so far this term, aren’t shared by anyone at Melwood and Rodgers believes an apology is in order.
“I was bitterly disappointed with what was said about Jordan,” Rodgers said.
“Sir Alex is someone who worked with and nurtured young players so the statement in terms of Jordan was inappropriate really.
“I am sure somewhere along the line, if Sir Alex bumps into Jordan, he will apologise because I don’t think it was right, especially from someone who knows that every word to a young player is important.
“Having worked with Jordan, you won’t get a more honest player. He is a young player fighting for his career in the game and he gives everything.
“When Kenny signed him I thought it was a great signing.
“He was outstanding at Sunderland but going to a big club was going to take him a wee bit of time. There was a reference to his running style but every player is different.
“There are not too many with a perfect running gait. Players will always have deficiencies in some way – some technical, some tactical.
“One thing you can say with Jordan is that he is an outstanding athlete. I think he could play two games back to back. He’s got a beautiful posture and he’s shown that over time he will be a very good player for Liverpool. Tactically, he’s improving all the time.
“We know his strengths are physical. Maybe at a young age, when someone is physically good, what can sometimes get forgotten is their technical and tactical development.
“Now he’s starting to use those physical qualities in a mature way and he will get better and better.”
Rodgers says the fact that every top club in Europe coveted Gerrard when he was in his prime makes a mockery of Ferguson’s assertion that he wasn’t a true great. He said: “Steven’s record speaks for itself.
“Just look at his career and the accolades he has received all the way through his life, not only from managers but fellow players.
“He (Ferguson) is probably one of the few – if not the only one – who does not believe Steven is a top, top player. I don’t think it was credible really in terms of what was said.
“ There was a vote recently on who was the best out of all the players who had won the PFA Player of the Year. Steven came out on top.
“He may not have won the title but that is more because of the teams he has been in rather than him himself.
“He is a world class player and still operates at a high level. To say he wasn’t a top player after scoring so many times against Manchester United over the years, and Manchester United wanting to sign him along with Real Madrid, Chelsea and every other European team, must be a bit tongue in cheek.”
Ferguson has angered many of his former players with his stories about what went on behind closed doors at Old Trafford. Rodgers insists he will never follow suit and repeat what goes on inside the Liverpool dressing room.
“I’ve been a manager for a short period of time and even in that period I’ve been offered the opportunity twice to write a book: once with Swansea’s promotion to the Premier League and then coming here,” he said.
“At this stage of my life I have absolutely no interest in it.
“My focus is purely on doing the best I possibly can for the club.
“I would like to think in the changing room I have we can always speak honestly and openly. I would be bitterly disappointed if the players felt they couldn’t say something because the manager might repeat it in times to come.”