Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Rodgers Has Taken Team to Brink of the Title

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Rodgers Has Taken Team to Brink of the Title

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Herbert

EVEN the Liverpool boardroom is privately astonished that Brendan Rodgers has taken the team to the brink of a first title in 24 years. So how did he do it? POWERS OF MOTIVATION Rodgers famously said two years ago that management was "not just about training players, it's about educating players. You train dogs." He has an intuitive sense of how to blend the nurturing component by getting inside the minds of his players; knowing what makes them tick with ruthlessness when it is needed. One of the club's top players was heavily censured at half-time during a vital recent game. Rodgers is unflinching. The effect, as Steven Gerrard has put it, is that "he makes you go out on to the pitch feeling a million dollars, full of confidence and belief".

NO FESTERING GRIEVANCES While Jose Mourinho's conduct has become increasingly bizarre, Rodgers has allowed no sense of injustice about officials' decisions to engender easy excuses. His claim at the Etihad back in December that Lee Mason, a Greater Manchester referee, should not have been in charge was a rare mistake. The philosophy was crystalised this month when his side were hard done by in the first half at West Ham, which they concluded at 1-1 after Guy Demel's controversial equaliser. "I said to the players 'listen you can have an excuse. I can tell you your excuse after the game, 'the referee gave a poor goal'. But it won't change anything."

RIVALS HAVE FALLEN SHORT One of the reasons why Manchester United are genuinely confident they can come straight back and win thePremeir League next year is that a Liverpool championship, if secured, will probably have required little more than 85 points. The sides who, with their resources, should have accelerated away from Liverpool have simply not delivered. The jury is still out on Manuel Pellegrini's famed powers of motivation, while Mourinho's new Chelsea have not held a torch to the old one. Arsenal have faded and United have imploded rather than frustrate Liverpool, as they usually do. …

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