Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers won’t have been best pleased this week, particularly for someone that prides themselves on their relations with the media, that both Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez, for different reasons, have divulged their thoughts to the press precisely at a time when the whole side needs to present a united front down the home straight.
With just 11 Premier League games left to go until the end of the season, Liverpool sit in eighth place in the table, ten points adrift of Chelsea in fourth place but with a relatively kind fixture list left to come, they must still retain hopes of clinching a place in Europe for next term even if it’s the Europa League as opposed to the preferred pipedream of the Champions League.
Nevertheless, with Bayern Munich circling around the team’s star performer this year, Uruguayan international Suarez, that he’s chosen to bat his eyelids at their overtures so brazenly points to a likely transfer saga in the summer, with the club battling to hold on to him, while Skrtel has unwisely chosen to air his dirty linen in public over a lack of playing time.
Is is thought that Pep Guardiola, Bayern’s incoming new manager for next season, has placed Suarez right at the top of his wishlist in the summer and is willing to use his brother Pere, who represents both parties, to try and help broker a deal, which would likely have to be around the £40million mark to even tempt Liverpool.
Of course, the only questions that Suarez will field from reporters now are about his future, and like a dog with a bone, they won’t let it go no matter how many times he attempts to convey his happiness at Anfield, but there’s been a noticeable softening in his stance of late and there’s real concern that he has had his head turned now.
The 26-year-old told reporters this week: “If Bayern Munich makes an offer I would certainly be willing to listen and think about it. It doesn’t mean I will definitely leave, it just means that I will not automatically reject other clubs.”
In all honesty, playing for the German champions under Guardiola for a side truly capable of competing regularly for top honours each and every season on the continent is a difficult offer to turn down, but this is the sort of statement that can only lead to more questions in the future and it’s simply inviting pressure.
Meanwhile, 28-year-old centre-back Skrtel has taken to the media to try and get across his dismay that he has fallen behind both Daniel Agger and the retiring Jamie Carragher in the pecking order recently, but it really is as simple as this – if he had been playing well enough, he wouldn’t have been dropped in the first place, but a series of sloppy errors, and a terrible performance against Oldham in the FA Cup appear to have sealed his fate under Rodgers and it would be no surprise if he was moved on at the end of the season now.
Skrtel told Denik Sport this week about his concerns: “We have (spoken) but it is not ideal. He (Rodgers) told me something on this, gave me some explanation, but it’s hard to tell if it was the true reason he gave me.
“I don’t think it was and think there is something else behind it. Anyway, I’m not the type of player who would be chasing the coach and be in his office all the time, asking for explanations why I’m not playing. I have never done this, I’m not doing it now and I never will be.
“If the coach wants to tell me something, he will summon me. The coach has his ideas about the line-up and the question is if I would be in it if I was fit. I would say it’s likelier I wouldn’t. For three years at Liverpool I was playing in almost every match and even in the national team I have played a lot of games. I have had various thoughts but certainly I’m not going to make any hot-blooded decision.”
Considering the faith that Rodgers has placed in him all season despite him being well short of his best, alongside Agger, both as a collective and on an individual basis they have been extremely poor, especially when you take into account that the side is currently going through a phase of transition and needs to rely on the more experienced members of the squad while the younger players have been blooded in.
He has been a regular all term aside from the last month or so but players are fickle beasts and only think about themselves week to week and were Rodgers to reverse his decision and throw him straight back into the starting XI, he would quickly change his tune. He simply hasn’t adapted to the team’s new style of play this year at all and despite thinly-veiled threats that he would consider a move to either Zenit St Petersburg or Anzhi Makhachkala in the near future, now may be the time to call his bluff.
The longer the club sits outside the promised land of the Champions League, the harder it is going to be to continue to hold on to some of the more recognised and seasoned international players within the squad, but by being so public with their respective agendas, they’ve not only damaged their own causes, they’ve threatened to undermine the manager at a crucial time of the campaign and the less said to the press between now and May, the better.