Rooney faces battle for start
Sat, 19 Jan 2013 09:52:00
Brendan Rodgers concedes that Liverpool need to focus on bringing in experience during the January transfer window.
The Reds' owners, Fenway Sports Group, have placed plenty of emphasis on the acquisition of young talent since sweeping into the Anfield boardroom.
Keeping one eye on the future is no bad thing, providing the present is also catered for.
Senior stars such as Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez have queried of late as to whether that has been the case and Rodgers admits the pair have a point, with it important to find the right mix of youth and experience.
He said: 'I have got a terrific relationship with the guys there (FSG).
"I will always do in my role what I think is best for the team and club. That is all I can do. It's not my money and not my club. I'm here to manage the group and, hopefully, we will get the players in to take us forward.
"I have got no complaints with the owners. They allow me to work and work well. If you ask any manager, they will always look for a young player that they can develop. But there are certain times when you need that experience.
"Look at (Robin) van Persie as the example. If you bring him in at 29, there is absolutely no question that he reinvigorates Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes. He also gives the young players something too.
"If we bring in an experienced player of the right quality, there would be no question of Steven Gerrard getting a boost from it; Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger and the young players would feed off it. That is the importance. If you are going to be up there fighting for titles, you need the right blend."
Rodgers has been linked with an approach for Inter Milan playmaker Wesley Sneijder, a man with UEFA Champions League and international experience aplenty, and he admits there is money to spend.
He added: "We have got money that can be reinvested back into the team.
"We are just looking for the right players who fit the profile we want. It is going to take time. But I will certainly always say what I feel is right for the team."
Foster was part of the Birmingham team which won the League Cup two years ago with a shock win over Arsenal in the final.
But he admits the experience left the squad drained and Blues were relegated at the end of that season to the Championship.
Now Villa are just one step away from reaching the 2012-2013 final and are also embroiled in a fight to stay in the Barclays Premier League ahead of tomorrow's derby clash at the Hawthorns.
But Foster still expects them to go full throttle to triumph in Tuesday's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg tie against Bradford even though their 25-year stay in the top flight is in doubt.
Foster said: "The Carling Cup win took everything out of us at Blues. It was a huge drain on everyone.
"The next two, three, four matches after that final we were awful. We were as bad as I've seen us.
"It kind of snowballed from there. We had seven or eight games left and it was in our hands.
"I remember saying 'if we get relegated here, we only have ourselves to blame because we only needed four or five points to see us safe' and it never happened.
"It's mad to think that it could take weeks to get over something like that - but I swear to you it did."
Foster added: "People are saying Villa are in a similar position now but I still don't think they will change their tact.
"If they have a chance to win a first major trophy in a long while for the fans, they still wouldn't change it.
"They will still say 'let's try to win and see how we do afterwards.' You've got to do that.
"They are so close to the final now that they have to give everything against Bradford in the second leg just to get there. It's only one more game."
Foster concedes it would be a massive shock if Villa were to be relegated but also claims the big-spending approach of QPR in their current predicament represents a massive gamble.
He said: It's unthinkable. Villa are such a big club and the thought of them being in the Championship is crazy, when you think of the players they had a few few years ago.
"If you look at the teams at the bottom like QPR, they are spending a lot and chucking crazy money at it.
"It's great if it pays off and they manage to avoid relegation.
"But, if it doesn't, they are stuck with a huge bill on their hands and who am I to say whether that's right or wrong?"
The ray of hope Foster can offer to Villa is that they are still in strong contention to stay up and have not been cut adrift.
He said: "I was with Watford a few years ago years and we were in the relegation zone all the way along.
"The thing with that one was we were dead and buried by February or March.
"Villa are within touching distance now. It's a point in the season where, if you can string a few results together, you can climb right out of it.
"Something silly like two or three wins on the bounce gets you into mid-table. It's all to play for."
The England striker failed from the spot for the second time this season on Wednesday when he blazed a second-half effort over in the FA Cup win over West Ham.
It led to former skipper Roy Keane claiming the responsibility would be taken away from him by manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with 21-goal Robin van Persie the most obvious replacement.
However, having only just recovered from the knee injury he sustained in training on Christmas Day, and with Ferguson aware he usually needs a few games to recover match fitness, Rooney has no guarantees about even starting at White Hart Lane.
"We have to think about it," Ferguson told MUTV of the penalty conundrum.
"I am not going to make a rash decision.
"We will see how Wayne has come through first. He will be involved at Tottenham but whether he starts or is on the bench, we have to make that decision.
"Once we do that we will know who is going to be taking the penalties."
That sounded very much like Rooney being on the bench this weekend, as even if he played, Van Persie surely will become the favoured penalty expert.
Having already won at Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City this season, United are looking to claim another notable away win.