Brendan Rodgers to remain at Liverpool after positive talks with club officials

Manager held review with FSG representatives in city centre on Tuesday
Group agreed on ‘a comprehensive plan for improvement’
Brendan Rodgers had come under pressure following a poor season for Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers had come under pressure following a poor season for Liverpool but he now looks set to remain as manager. Photograph: Dave Howarth/PA

Brendan Rodgers is to remain the Liverpool manager following a review with Tom Werner, the club chairman, and Mike Gordon, the president of Fenway Sports Group.

The 42-year-old had been under pressure after a dismal end to the season that culminated in a 6-1 loss at Stoke City, Liverpool’s heaviest defeat in 52 years, no silverware for the third year of his reign and failure to qualify for the Champions League, despite a £117m investment in new players. However, having met the two members of the Anfield hierarchy who are leading a wide-ranging review into what went wrong in 2014-15, Rodgers has been assured his position is safe and that he remains FSG’s man going into next season.

Rodgers met Werner and Gordon in Liverpool on Tuesday after they arrived on Merseyside on Monday night. The three had a two-hour debrief, although Rodgers and Gordon had held meetings since the end of the season, at which all parties agreed on “a comprehensive plan for improvement” at Anfield.

The talks have been described as “good and productive” but Liverpool have not divulged what the plan for improvement entails. The club’s transfer committee has been heavily criticised for a series of poor signings and a failure to acquire leading targets in recent windows but Rodgers had stated his support for the FSG model prior to the review. There may yet be changes or additions to Liverpool’s backroom staff but the manager himself has received FSG’s backing to lead a necessary improvement at Anfield next season.

Rodgers has long advocated more established Premier League signings to balance the owners’ strategy of acquiring young, developing talent. With the free transfer of James Milner believed to be close, Burnley’s Danny Ings also favouring a move to Anfield, Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke a leading target and Nathaniel Clyne the subject of a £10m bid from Liverpool, albeit rejected by Southampton, it appears the manager’s argument has been accepted to a degree by the club’s owners.

Gordon and Rodgers have a strong working relationship and the FSG president’s review encompasses far more than the manager’s ability to revive Liverpool after the sixth-placed finish in the Premier League. The recruitment strategy and the youth academy set-up are aspects of the club that are also under consideration.

FSG accepted that the £75m sale of Luis Suárez to Barcelona last summer would undermine Rodgers’ hopes of sustaining the thrilling football and title challenge of 2013-14. But there was also a belief that the biggest transfer outlay in Liverpool’s history, with eight players arriving at Anfield last summer and a ninth, Divock Origi, remaining at Lille on loan for the season, should have resulted in Champions League qualification for a second successive season.

Instead, Liverpool finished eight points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, having won only two of their final nine Premier League matches, and have now qualified for the Champions League once in the last six seasons.

Rodgers’ team did reach the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions, losing to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup and meekly to Aston Villa at Wembley in the FA Cup, but Europe brought further disappointment. Liverpool managed just the one win in a relatively modest Champions League group – with Rodgers’ decision to field a weakened team at Real Madrid inviting pressure – and exited the Europa League on penalties against Besiktas having dropped into the second-tier competition.

Rodgers’ clear misgivings over the suitability of the new signings had also been an issue for the owners. Only midfielder Emre Can established himself as a regular of last summer’s intake and that was in a defensive role. But FSG also accept the mitigating circumstances behind Liverpool’s dramatic deterioration in goals last season. With Suárez gone, Daniel Sturridge was expected to lead the attack last season but started only seven league games because of a succession of injuries as Liverpool’s Premier League goals tally fell from 101 in 2013-14 to 52 last term.

The former Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp and ex-Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez had support among a fanbase that appeared to lose faith in Rodgers during the team’s struggles in 2014-15. FSG, however, maintained the Northern Irishman was their man for the long term, even after the humiliation at Stoke, and have now removed any lingering uncertainty following the end-of-season review.