• Premier League

Xabi Alonso: Rodgers right man for Liverpool

ESPN staff
February 17, 2013
Xabi Alonso left Liverpool for Real Madrid © Getty Images

Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso insists Brendan Rodgers must be given more time to improve the club's fortunes.

The Spain international, who spent five years at Anfield before leaving to join Real Madrid in 2009, believes Rodgers is building the foundations for success.

Liverpool face the prospect of missing out on next season's Champions League and failing to win a trophy after a frustrating week.

They are 12 points adrift of a top-four Premier League spot after losing at home to West Brom last Monday, while their Europa League chances suffered a huge dent with a 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their last-32 tie away to Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday.

Rodgers, who took over as Liverpool's manager in June, has acknowledged that the club may well have to wait until next season to achieve what they desire. But Alonso, 31, insists the former Swansea boss is the right man for the Anfield job.

He told BBC's Football Focus programme: "With Brendan, Liverpool are building a project. They need to be patient. We all want to see Liverpool fighting for the Champions League places."

Alonso, who scored the equaliser when Liverpool came from three goals down to beat AC Milan on penalties in the 2005 Champions League final, has fond memories of his five years at Anfield.

"I still follow the Premier League and I still feel very attached to Liverpool and I follow them. I consider myself a Liverpool fan," he said.

Liverpool were badly affected by Alonso's departure for Madrid, which came after 12 months of speculation about his long-term Anfield future.

"After five years, I think I needed a change," Alonso said. "It was the right time. It was a difficult decision to take at that time, but some things happen."

Alonso's days at Anfield seemed numbered after Rafael Benitez spent the summer of 2008 unsuccessfully pursuing a deal for Gareth Barry. It was widely believed at the time that Benitez would sell Alonso to raise the money to bring in Barry from Aston Villa, and the Spaniard began to feel that he was ready to move on.

Alonso felt that his departure was inevitable by the time he did leave Anfield in 2009. "Not that summer but the summer before, when they tried to tell me that I wasn't as important [to the club], and they said to me that I could leave and I said 'OK', I said 'That's football'.

"But as well it came to my mind that my position it was different and the following summer I thought that was maybe the right time to leave.

"After I left... performances and so many things happen and that's always the way. Some players come and others go, and I don't consider that [Liverpool declined] because of my departure."

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