Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool: So this is what it has come to

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BBC is reporting Liverpool’s search for a manager is over. Now there’s only one big club in England without a permanent coach.

That’s because Swansea City’s Brendan Rodgers is set to take the helm at Anfield. He’ll get a three year deal. Swans will get $6-$7 million in compensation and the task of finding a new coach.

Seems Roberto Martínez would be a good fit, but would the booing stop at the Liberty Stadium should their prodigal son return? We’ll likely never know.

There was a number of reasons Martínez was a bad choice for Liverpool, all of which apply to Rodgers. Where Liverpool’s biggest concern is getting back into UEFA Champions League, Rodgers has no experience. He’s proven he can win at lower levels. He’s proven he can keep a team up. Neither of those skills are pertinent to success at Anfield.

More on Rodgers: A brief history of Liverpool’s new boss

But this line of thought begs a question: What if a manager at a lower-table club had no experience competing for Europe yet was truly – in an absolute, cosmic, indefatigable way – capable of success at Liverpool. How would we know?

We wouldn’t. That’s the unfair, double-edged sword that’s dividing this conversation. Rodgers hasn’t shown the skills to run Liverpool, the main reason being he hasn’t had the chance. Thus, any hire like this is going to be a leap of faith. The bosses with Fenway Sports Group must feel they have a view into Rodgers’ cosmic truth, because they’re set to push on.

There was a time when Liverpool didn’t have to make hires like this. They were capable of luring La Liga-winner bosses from Spain. They were capable of bringing in managers who took small West London clubs to within 90 minutes of a European title. Now, they’re hiring from below, even after an eighth place finish.

I still think Liverpool’s capable of hunting bigger game. Even the biggest cynic of Anfield’s lore would concede Liverpool’s managerial post is one of the 10-20 most prestigious in the world (excuse the large range). Is Brendan Rodgers one of the 10-20 best managers in the world? If he is, we have no proof.

Ideally, the Rodgers and Martínez’s of the world would have a spell at an Aston Villa-esque club – a place where you can build a team that could compete on the fringes of Europe and give people reason to think “if he can do it there …”

In fairness, that’s the same logic that led Roy Hodgson to Anfield, and we all know how that turned out.

There were other options, though they’re mostly names I’m pulling out of a hat. Luciano Spalletti’s done as much as he can in Russia. Manuel Pellegrini’s now linked with Roma; he seems willing to move from Malaga. Then there’s former boss Luis Enrique, or other Roma-linkee André Villas-Boas (who Liverpool interviewed). Dick Advocaat’s done will with Russia, Slaven Bilic’s in his last tournament with Croatia. Rudi Garcia’s seen his Lille team gutted, and who knows. If Liverpool was as persistent with Ajax’s Frank de Boar as they were with Rodgers, he may have come available.

All of these men have a pedigree that’s more consistent with the Anfield job than Rodgers’. But who knows. Maybe Rodgers’s interview gave FSG a glimpse into his cosmic awesomeness. Maybe there’s something specific to where FSG’s taking Liverpool that may preclude bringing in a man whose ideas are too firmly entrenched.

Or maybe, as we saw with de Boar and (originally) Rodgers, Liverpool just isn’t that glamourous a destination anymore? Unfortunately, that seems to be the message.

Jonas nets 2 late goals to keep Benfica in title hunt

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica’s 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.

Jonas equalized in the 72nd minute and gave the defending champion the lead in the 88th.

[ MORE: Man United-Chelsea meet in giant Sunday PL clash ]

Rafa Silva added a third goal after the host was reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Gian dos Santos was shown a direct red card.

Luiz Phellype gave Pacos Ferreira the lead in the ninth.

The double increased Jonas’ league-leading tally to 27 goals.

Benfica moved to within two points of Porto before the pacesetter visits Portimonense on Sunday.

Sporting Lisbon is third at five points behind Porto. It hosts Moreirense on Monday.

Orlando City trades defender Jose Aja to Whitecaps for allocation money

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The Vancouver Whitecaps have struck a deal with an Eastern Conference side to help solidify their back line.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson leads Werder Bremen to win ]

On Saturday, the Cascadia club finalized a deal to acquire Orlando City defender Jose Aja in exchange for $125,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for 2019.

Additionally, Orlando could receive another $100,000 in TAM if Aja remains on the Whitecaps roster next season and a 2021 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick if Aja is in Canada for the 2020 campaign.

Aja has made 25 appearances for Orlando since coming to MLS in 2016 from his native Uruguay.

The timing of the deal is intriguing, given Tim Parker’s willingness to exit the Whitecaps ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

PST reported on Thursday that Parker is seeking a move back to the East Coast, and the New York-native is being tracked by several Eastern Conference sides, including the New York Red Bulls, D.C. United and the Montreal Impact.

Parker is considered one of the top American defenders in MLS, and is actively seeking a massive pay raise ahead of the new season, after making just under $100,000 in 2017.

PL Sunday preview: Red Devils battle Chelsea at Old Trafford

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It will surely be one of the biggest fixtures of the season when Manchester United and Chelsea get together on Sunday, and for both clubs a victory could be vital in projecting their form for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting at Selhurst Park pits teams on opposite ends of the table against one another. Crystal Palace enters the weekend levels on points with 18th-place Swansea, while Tottenham could leap Chelsea for fourth if results go in favor of Spurs.

[ MORE: Liverpool continues to score at lightning pace against West Ham ]

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The injury bug has hit Palace hard as of late, with a total of 12 senior team players being left out of Roy Hodgson‘s squad. The list includes Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Mamadou Sakho, which won’t make things easy against a talented Spurs side.

Tottenham have had a ton of success in this fixture recently, winning the last five encounters and only allowing one goal in the process.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have hit the ground running in the second half of the season thus far, picking up a league-high 15 points in the Premier League since the start of 2018.

If there is a saving grace for the Eagles though, it is that Palace has been solid at home this season, and gone unbeaten in nine of its last 10 fixtures at Selhurst.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN

After a pair of draws from the PL sides kicked off their Champions League Round of 16 campaigns midweek, United and Chelsea can now focus their attention back to England; at least for the time being.

Jose Mourinho’s team came away from Seville with a crucial scoreless draw after the hosts tested goalkeeper David De Gea on numerous occasions, while Chelsea were close to pulling out a victory against Barcelona had it not been for a big-time mistake from Andreas Christensen late in the match.

Nonetheless, this is a fixture that always garners significant attention, especially from the Blues, who tend to have a better go of it. United has won just once against Chelsea in their last 14 fixtures, with the lone victory coming last season.

That said, Antonio Conte and his side have failed to exemplify consistency this year, and that includes road matches. The Blues have just two road wins in their last nine attempts across all competitions, which bodes well for the Red Devils.

The good news for Chelsea is the recent form of attacking duo Willian and Eden Hazard. The Brazilian was constantly in dangerous positions up the pitch against the Blaugrana in their recent UCL encounter, nabbing the lone goal for the Blues, while Hazard has scored six times in his last six PL matches.

The 2 Robbies: Unstoppable Liverpool, Man United-Chelsea and more

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In today’s episode, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe discuss Liverpool’s emphatic win over West Ham (0:17), breakdown an extremely complicated relegation situation where nearly half of the league is in jeopardy of going down (10:05), before closing the show with a preview of tomorrow’s Man United v. Chelsea match (28:10).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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