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Rodgers grateful for patient owners

ESPN staff
November 22, 2012 « Thiago Silva banned for six months | Chartbeat test »
Brendan Rodgers is happy Liverpool owners are prepared to give him time at Anfield © Getty Images
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Brendan Rodgers has declared that short-term pain will lead to long-term gain at Liverpool and has praised the club's board for being prepared to give him time.

Rodgers, speaking ahead of Thursday's Europa League tie with Young Boys, was dismayed to learn that his former club Chelsea had sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo on Wednesday, less than six months after he led them to the Champions League title.

Having replaced Kenny Dalglish at Anfield in June, Liverpool boss Rodgers had a testing start, picking up two points from his first five Premier League matches as the club slipped to 18th place.

A run of seven league matches unbeaten since then has given cause for optimism, although only three of those have been won. Liverpool have climbed to 11th place, and even though they are eight points adrift of a Champions League spot, Rodgers is hopeful of challenging for a top-four finish.

But he is glad that chairman Tom Werner and principal owner John W Henry are prepared to show him more patience than Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has with Di Matteo.

"It's disappointing. I think every manager is under pressure, but it's particularly true at the big clubs, where the demand for success is incredible," Rodgers said. "I felt for Robbie. He went in there and did a brilliant job.

"It's incredible really that you can win the Champions League and a domestic cup competition, and yet find yourself out of a job. It's a disappointing day if you're a manager because it really shows the game that we're in now.

"It used to be years ago that if you were bottom of the league, and you hadn't won for 10 games, then there was a likelihood that you might lose your job. Now it seems that if you're at the top of the league and winning trophies, you might lose your job."

Rodgers, a former youth and reserve team boss at Chelsea, had his own experience of a quick sacking when he was fired by Reading in December 2009 after less than six months in the role.

He subsequently rebuilt his managerial career at Swansea, guiding them to the Premier League in 2011, but wanted assurances from Liverpool's American owners before agreeing to move to Anfield in June.

"I came in with a three-year contract [at Reading] and had great belief that I was brought in to change the philosophy and ideas of the club. And 20 games later, I was out of a job," Rodgers said. "That's the harsh reality of managing a football club. And from that, I learned a lesson. But I've been grateful to the board here.

"In order for me to come here, that was going to be important, because if we were going to keep the club moving in the right direction, it was going to need that bit of stability.

"But in that short term, you want success, and you have to show that there is improvement. I believe we are starting to show improvement. There is a real spirit and a real unity among us all.

"If we can stay like that and get through the pain together, then we can get out the other side and look to restore Liverpool to where they should be. It's difficult, especially in the modern game."

Rodgers is looking to take Liverpool into the knockout stages of the Europa League, and could secure qualification with a game to spare in Group A if they beat Swiss club Young Boys at Anfield on Thursday and rivals Udinese fail to win against Anzhi Makhachkala.

"We'll make changes, but the squad is the squad," he said. "We didn't take Steven Gerrard and one or two others to Switzerland, but they will all be involved [on Thursday] night.

"We'll have a strong team. I will make changes for the game. I have to respect that we've got a really busy schedule. We've got four games in the next 10 days, and that's a big ask to keep the same group of players playing in all of those.

"It's an opportunity for us. All being well, we get the result. And if the other result goes for us, then we'll navigate our way through the group, and that has always been our intention, to qualify. So it's a good opportunity for us, and we'll put out a team we feel can win the game."

Liverpool player to watch: Suso has sparkled at times for Liverpool this season, but he was withdrawn after 35 minutes against Wigan in a tactical shift by Rodgers designed to make it more difficult for the Latics to keep the ball. The switch worked, with Liverpool running out 3-0 winners, but it will be interesting to see how the youngster reacts.

Young Boys player to watch: Raul Bobadilla has scored four goals in his last two Europa League outings, including a hat-trick against Udinese. If Young Boys are to pose a threat at Anfield they will need to ensure their supply to Bobadilla is of a decent enough standard, otherwise he will spend a lot of time chasing and fetching.

Betting: Liverpool generally don't start games particularly quickly, so take a 0-0 half-time scoreline followed by a 2-0 result at 18/1 with Bet365.

Prediction: 2-0

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