• Brendan Rodgers season-defining match Liverpool vs Man Utd.

    Amendments were made and, although Liverpool lost 3-0, they were unlucky and played well. Another memory lapse is over the last time Everton and T-shirts made news. The lack of leadership is partly because FSG’s transfer policy targets younger players. Van Gaal may see flooding the middle as the key to the game. There was no belief there was a way back. Imagine you are Brendan Rodgers. Imagine the pressure that comes from being at the heart of this game. The senior players — such as Martin Skrtel and Jordan Henderson — lack the charisma and fortitude to lead. That was more than a decade ago, when Wayne Rooney stripped off his jersey at Goodison to show off his “Once a Blue, always a Blue” shirt.

    Some matches are always crucial. Either that, or just let Hodgson keep the seat warm for Alan Pardew.

    It was a compelling tale — a journey from the brink of disaster to the edge of glory. So why not hand over the reins to Gary Neville for a game? Let Hodgson have the night off and give his assistant coach a chance to pick the team, select the tactics and make the substitutions. It was a huge step toward bringing Champions League football to Old Trafford, and sent Liverpool into a tailspin.

    In the end, Rodgers needs the sort of upswing he got after the United game last December. Rodgers was in a very different mood. When the second goal went in, the team seemed to give a collective shrug. They were about to embark on a 13-game unbeaten run.

    The consequences for Rodgers could be nasty. Emre Can has the power to put himself around, but his mobility throws up question marks. He needs to solve the soft spot in the centre of the defence by developing a coherent midfield group that protects the back four and creates chances to get the best out of Benteke.

    Everton fans delighted at being able to fend off Chelsea’s approach for John Stones have been producing T-shirts with the slogan “Money can’t buy you Stones,” a play on the title of The Beatles song. Fast forward those 13 games and United were on the agenda again, this time at Anfield in March. Greg Dyke, chairman of the Football Association, has made it clear Roy Hodgson’s tenure as manager will come to an end next July. Some games do not need an injection of extra drama to enthrall. Then, United came to town. Manchester United versus Liverpool is one of them. If the aftermath is anything like March’s meeting of the two sides, Rodgers’ time at Anfield may start to run out.

    Liverpool are too nice for their own good.

    Both matches against United last season proved to be turning points for Rodgers. The 3-0 defeat by West Ham United at Anfield last month illustrated this. It led to a vacuum of experience and knowledge in the dressing room. Given that both sides started the season in an unconvincing manner, this match is an early chance to build confidence and land a significant blow to one of their main rivals’ top-four hopes.

    The ESPN FC panel react to Harry Redknapp’s comments about Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool being the worst Liverpool side he’s seen in recent years. It was a catalyst for a change in fortunes. At one down, Liverpool were still in the game. Brute force, not talent, could well determine the direction of the points. United have an advantage here.

    Money talks in football . He arrives at Old Trafford after an uncertain start to the season with the shadow of former Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp looming — at least in the minds of supporters and the media. The problems are deeper, though. Liverpool have failed to get the right balance there, and United could bully them in this crucial area.

    Aside from Christian Benteke, Rodgers’ side have a lightweight look. In December he took his side down the M62 with his job under threat. However, early in the window they strengthened the midfield with Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger. That turned out well, didn’t it?

    The two sides face each other again this Saturday.

    United’s scatterbrained approach to the transfer window has brought derision down on Van Gaal and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, the man holding the purse strings. James Milner was brought in to address this, but the former Manchester City man is no Graeme Souness.

    Which direction will Rodgers’ team go after Saturday? This is a make-or-break season for the Northern Irishman’s Liverpool career. They seemed to have spent more of the summer compiling lists of (sometimes unattainable) targets than actively pursuing players. It is a rivalry of two cities distilled into 90 minutes of combativeness.

    Now that England have qualified for Euro 2016, there’s a little time to take stock and think about the future. This could be a defining game for the Liverpool manager.

    Give Neville a chance

    One of the biggest issues for Rodgers is leadership on the field. Louis van Gaal’s team exploited the home side’s tactical weaknesses, Steven Gerrard was sent off seconds into the second half after coming on as substitute, and although the 10 men produced a spirited last half hour, United won 2-1. Eulogies to the manager’s growing greatness filled the media. They seem to have forgotten that cash almost always talks in football. Gareth Southgate was the heir apparent, but the under-21 tournament this summer proved he is not the right man. Nothing less than a top-four place and/or trophy will do. If this is what Neville’s future holds, rather than punditry, England need a sense of what he’s about as soon as possible. Liverpool suddenly looked like a top-four side; they were in the semifinal of the FA Cup and, to hear the manager’s side of the story, it was down to one man: Brendan Rodgers.

    Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen says his old side would be more than happy to come away from their upcoming Premier League clash at Manchester United with a point. It had been made clear to the manager that Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the owners, were not enamoured with his team selections in the first half of the season

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