No lofty targets for Rodgers

Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 01:00

Soccer:Liverpool principal owner John Henry is being realistic in his expectations of new manager Brendan Rodgers and will not set him a target of Champions League qualification. This time last year Henry, as lead figure for owners Fenway Sports Group, told then manager Kenny Dalglish the requirement was a top-four finish.

So despite winning the club’s first trophy for six years with victory over Cardiff in the League Cup — and being runners-up in the FA Cup — an eighth-place finish 17 points adrift of Tottenham cost the Scot his job. No such demands will be put on Rodgers, at least not so early in his reign having moved from Swansea early last month.

“We don’t want to put any pressure on Brendan by saying you have got to make the Champions League this year,” said Henry, who has seen the squad close up this week as they have been in Boston preparing for their pre-season tour of the United States.

“Of course he wants to make the Champions League, we all do and so does every team in the Premier League. I thought it was realistic last season but we were so far off that pace. At this point we’re just trying to get things stabilised — that should be one of our goals.”

Rodgers is the third manager since FSG, owners of Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, took over in October 2010. They inherited Roy Hodgson from the previous regime but dispensed with him within three months and brought in Dalglish initially to stabilise the club and then ended up giving him a three-year contract of which he lasted 12 months.

Henry admits they have had to get up to speed with their first foray into football. “We know more now than we did when we bought the club,” Henry added. “We didn’t know a lot at the start. We have had something like 20 months to study and learn and this is really the direction we want to go in.

“We are working on a long-term programme and we are fully committed to this programme. It will be the kind of football we want to play. Brendan has a very structured approach and he plays the kind of football that we think Liverpool fans will love to see.

“You can see why he was appointed. He’s an inspirational figure. He’s very charismatic, he’s smart, he knows what he wants to accomplish and he’s determined to accomplish it. Everything I have heard so far in the way of feedback about him has been very positive.”

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