O'Neill backs Kop boss Rodgers as Ulster duo prepare to go head-to-head
14:53 GMT, 14 September 2012
Vote of confidence: Martin O'Neill has backed Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers to turn the club's fortunes around
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has backed Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers to run the club his own way after a turbulent start to the season.
The two Ulstermen will go head to head at the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening three days after Rodgers' problems at Anfield were put into perspective by an independent report into the deaths of 96 of the Reds' supporters at Hillsborough in 1989.
It is certain to be an emotional occasion on Wearside, but once the whistle blows, the only concentration for the men on the field will be the three Barclays Premier League points at stake.
Rodgers' men currently sit in 18th place in the table having taken just one point from their three games to date, albeit from reigning champions Manchester City and with their new manager coming under pressure in some quarters with the Andy Carroll debacle still a topic for debate.
But O'Neill said: 'Brendan obviously has his style, which he brought to Swansea – I say brought to Swansea, it might have been there in the first place, but he certainly enhanced it.
'If I say so, their start to the season under [Michael] Laudrup now is maybe a continuation of that work.
'People can tinker with it whatever way they want, but it's worked very well.
'On the back of that, he has gone to Liverpool and obviously wants to stamp his authority – or his mark, rather than authority, perhaps – on Liverpool Football Club. Obviously, that's what you want to do as a manager.
'But I don't think he's going into it with eyes closed. He would have had a number of meetings there with the owners of the football club. He must have agreed to the way in which they want to work.
'I believe there's a fly-on-the-wall documentary – I haven't seen it, so I really can't comment on it other than some of the reviews that people have made about it in the newspapers. It couldn't, maybe, have been done without his consent.
'But whatever way he is doing it, it's entirely up to him.'
Mini-break: Sunderland have not been in action since the 2-2 draw at Swansea on September 1, when Steven Fletcher (left) scored twice
That six-part documentary, entitled 'Being Liverpool', is being aired in the United States this month and is said to shed light on Rodgers' managerial style.
O'Neill, of course, is several months further into the process of imposing his personality on his own club, and with two creditable draws at Arsenal and Swansea under his belt to date, heads into his first home league game of the campaign – Reading's visit on August 25 was postponed because of torrential rain – in positive mood.
He said: 'Liverpool come here with great tradition. I know the word 'legendary' is used almost as the throw of a dice now, but the club has legend and everything else that you could possibly think about behind it now, particularly over the last 50 years since Bill Shankly came in.
'It's a really proud tradition and it will be a highly-charged atmosphere.'
Winger Adam Johnson is battling to be fit after returning early from England duty with a thigh problem, but fellow midfielder David Meyler will hope for an opportunity after confirming his return from two serious knee injuries by making his first start for the Republic of Ireland against Oman in midweek.
Injury doubt: Adam Johnson is fighting to be fit for the Liverpool game after picking up a thigh injury on England duty
O'Neill, who revealed he had turned down a series of offers for the player to go out on loan, said: 'David has had a really tough time with injury. Of course, I have only known him as he is making his way back from it.
'He might have seen how Fraizer Campbell has fought back from the injuries, but I am delighted for David.
'He is an exceptional lad, he is, honestly. You would be very happy with him around about the place.'