Rodgers impassive on Raheem

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers being garlanded upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as Jordan Henderson and Martin Skrtel await their turn.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers being garlanded upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as Jordan Henderson and Martin Skrtel await their turn.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Raheem Sterling.
Raheem Sterling.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Calm and cool manager unmoved by transfer row as unsettled striker joins City for £49m

Should Brendan Rodgers ever consider an alternative career away from football, he offered undisputed proof yesterday that he could make a comfortable living as a professional poker player.

Despite being quizzed about the manner of Raheem Sterling's fractious departure, he betrayed no emotion at all. The Liverpool Football Club manager, on the dais at the launch of the club's 2015 Asian tour, appeared unmoved by the Sterling storm.

Sharing the stage with midfielder Lucas Leiva at the Plaza Athenee Hotel in the Thai capital at an event organised by main sponsor Standard Chartered Bank, he was impassive when quizzed about Sterling's £49 million (S$102.9 million) transfer to Manchester City.

After Rodgers and Lucas had displayed the club's latest shirt and greeted the media with the folded hands of a traditional Thai welcome, the interrogation began and the manager moved seamlessly into stonewall mode.

"The situation currently is very, very simple," said Rodgers. "The club has agreed with another club a deal for Raheem to be transferred and subject to (a) medical, that will go through.

"Contrary to probably the last week or so in terms of what was written, Raheem and I have always remained very strong in our relationship and have been right until we left (for Bangkok).

I'M NOT THE REASON HE LEFT

Raheem and I have always remained very strong in our relationship and have been right until we left (for Bangkok). So there's no issue there.

BRENDAN RODGERS, Liverpool manager, denies there has been a breakdown in his relationship with Raheem Sterling that ended up with the winger signing for Manchester City

"So there's no issue there."

When greeted with a follow-up question about Sterling, Rodgers' response was deadpan. "As I said, at this moment in time, it's only about the players who have travelled here. There's no issue, no problem. Now, the interest is (only) with the players who are here in Bangkok."

Responding to The Straits Times' question about what he expected of Jordan Henderson in his role as captain, he was more relaxed. "Jordan Henderson is very loyal, very honest and he's a young player who's on the way up. At 24 years of age, I still think he has great improvements to make. He's a wonderful role model for the football club and a great ambassador.

"He's obviously learnt a lot from Steven (Gerrard) in the course of the last year and I think he'll step into that role. He'll have his own methods and his own ideas and his own way of captaining the group.

"I believe in his vision for the future and I'm very sure he'll respond to that in a very positive way."

Rodgers' response to a question about the departures of two key members of his support staff - Mike Marsh and Colin Pascoe - was brief but frank. "I decided to make a change in the staff. (They are) two fantastic guys… both Colin and Mike are great professionals. I just felt the need to move in a different direction - that was a decision that was made purely by myself.

"I enjoyed our trip to Asia the last time we were here a couple of years ago. It provided us with a wonderful foundation to go on and have a very good league campaign. Hopefully, it will be similar this time."

Brazilian Lucas also fielded questions, although they were more general in nature.

When asked about whether the tropical weather conditions will have any bearing on today's game between the Reds and the Thai All Stars, he replied: "It is always difficult to play here (in the tropical weather). Hopefully, we will start (our tour) tomorrow with a good game and prove our fitness as well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2015, with the headline 'Rodgers impassive on Raheem'. Print Edition | Subscribe