• Ferguson criticised Jordan Henderson in autobiography
• Sir Alex might want to apologise, says Liverpool manager
Brendan Rodgers has taken issue with Sir Alex Ferguson over the comments in his autobiography on current Liverpool players, claiming he was bitterly disappointed by what he said about Jordan Henderson and saddened that such a towering managerial figure will now be remembered for making "inappropriate" remarks about players with whom he has never worked.
The former Manchester United manager was being critical of Kenny Dalglish's most recent spell at Anfield when he said that he would never have spent £20m on Stewart Downing; that Steven Gerrard was not "a top, top player", and that Henderson, bought for £16m from Sunderland two years ago, has an odd gait, running with a straight back, that will cause him fitness problems later in his career.
Downing has now left Liverpool, and as captain of England with more than a hundred caps, Gerrard can probably look after himself. While Rodgers thinks Ferguson is one of the very few people in football who does not rate his captain highly, he reserved most of his scorn for the apparently gratuitous attack on Henderson, 23, "an honest young player trying to make his way in the game". The comment was especially wounding and unnecessary, he felt, because Ferguson has a reputation for working with young players and must know how sensitive they can be to criticism.
"I think if Sir Alex ever bumps into Jordan he might want to apologise for that," the Liverpool manager said. "The comment surprised me, I have to be honest,coming from someone with such status in the game. Maybe it was meant as flippant but to a young player making his way in the game it could be damaging. Every player is different, and every player at this club has had his strengths and weaknesses medically assessed. The statement in terms of Jordan was inappropriate.
"Sir Alex is in a position to say what he likes, and you don't have to agree with it, but I think there is a sadness to this as it is something that will probably stay with people for a long while. I think every football person would have enjoyed his achievements in the game and the legacy he has left, but now people are only going to talk about the comments in the book. In a way I can understand some of the comments, when you have been chasing a club as successful as Liverpool you have to find ways to bring them down. But this is a club that has class and history and in the modern era is fighting to get back to that level again."
Ferguson also remarked rather caustically that Liverpool were around eight players short of what it would take to win the league. "That's probably two short of what they need then," Rodgers countered. "I don't really want to give the book any more publicity than it has already had, there's been enough reaction in the past few days. Sir Alex has obviously bided his time and now feels that his retirement is the time to put a few things straight. It is his right to do that, but I won't be rushing out to buy a copy."