Brendan Rodgers hits back at Ferguson
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Sir Alex Ferguson was wrong to question Steven Gerrard’s reputation -- and should apologise for criticising Jordan Henderson.
Former Manchester United boss Ferguson aimed a number of barbs at Liverpool in his new autobiography, published this week.
He argued that Gerrard was “not a top, top player”, suggested that Rodgers’ appointment at Anfield in June 2012 was a “mistake” and added that Henderson’s running style could cause fitness problems for him later in his career.
Rodgers brushed aside the criticisms he received from Ferguson, saying: “It’s all about opinion. And I’m not here to publicise his book, by the way. He’s had enough coverage this week as it is.”
But he did defend midfielders Gerrard and Henderson, and questioned Ferguson’s decision to release a book that was so candid.
Ferguson admitted that he was interested in signing Gerrard in 2005, but claimed that whenever the Liverpool captain faced Manchester United’s midfield pairing of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, he “seldom had a kick”.
However, Rodgers felt that Ferguson, who stepped down as manager at Old Trafford in May after 26-and-a-half years in the job, is in a minority when it comes to questioning the England captain’s ability.
He said: “He is probably one of the very few -- if not the only one -- who doesn’t believe he’s a top, top player. I don’t think it was credible really, in terms of what was said.
“Steven speaks for himself. He’s a top, top player, for sure. He may not have won the title, but that’s more because of the teams he’s been in rather than him. He’s a world-class player and still operates at a high level.”
Rodgers was annoyed further by the comments on Henderson, which suggested the England international, 23, has a flawed gait and running style.
“The one thing that I will add that I was disappointed about -- bitterly disappointed about -- was what he said on Jordan Henderson,” the Liverpool manager said. “Sir Alex is obviously someone who works with young players and nurtured them.
“The statement in terms of Jordan was inappropriate really. This is a young guy who I’ve worked with now for over a season, and you won’t get a more honest player.
“When Kenny Dalglish signed him, I thought it was a great signing. I’d seen him at Sunderland and he was outstanding. Going to a big club, it was going to take him a wee bit of time. And there was reference towards his running style and gait. But listen, every player is different.
“Every player, when they come into a football club, will be medically assessed. They’ll have strengths and weaknesses, and over the course of their career those elements of their physical, technical and tactical qualities will be improved.
“So I’m sure that, somewhere along the line, if Sir Alex bumps into Jordan Henderson, he’ll apologise for that -- because it was something I didn’t think was right, especially from someone who knows that every word to a young player is important.”
Rodgers said that he was surprised Ferguson had decided to reveal so much in his autobiography.
The Liverpool manager revealed that he has been approached twice to write a book -- once when he was in charge at Swansea, and once since his move to Anfield -- but insisted that he had no interest in revealing dressing-room secrets.
He said: “I’ve been a manager for a short period of time. Even in that period, I’ve been offered the opportunity twice to write a book.
“There was an offer to write about Swansea’s promotion, when they became the first Welsh club to reach the Premier League, and then coming here, and everything that surrounds that, there was a possibility there too.
“But at this stage of my life, I’ve absolutely no interest in it. My focus is purely on doing the best I can and giving my best for this club. I’d like to think that in the changing room I have, people can always speak openly and honestly. I always open up communication with the players.
“I’d be bitterly, bitterly disappointed if they felt they couldn’t say something because they felt the manager would repeat it in times to come. It’s something I’ve never thought of, really. When it has been put to me, it’s something that, at this stage of my life, I’ve got no interest in.”