EPL: Rodgers V Moyes

1) Walking in footsteps of legends

At this stage, Rodgers and Moyes share more similarities than they do differences.

Both men succeeded monsters, omnipresent giants who will cast a shadow for decades to come.

The task almost overwhelmed Rodgers.

An assured, progressive manager at Swansea, he appeared to shrink under the sign This Is Anfield.

The spectre of a glorious king - Kenny Dalglish - loomed large.

The heir apparent got tongue-tied, lapsing into management-speak and self-help soundbites. But he is gradually overhauling the excessive royal court of his predecessor.

The cut-price waste management sales of Charlie Adam, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing underlined Dalglish's fumbling.

Rodgers' smart pre-season signings reveal an increasingly confident manager finally putting his personal stamp on the squad.

Moyes, on the other hand, finds himself in the same place as Rodgers a year ago.

He suffered the double blow of losing Sir Alex Ferguson and chief executive David Gill - a deadly duo beyond compare when it came to swimming with the sharks of the transfer market.

Moyes is not so much replacing a man, as he is a chapter of sporting history. Dalglish left behind a mountain of debt and an imbalanced squad.

Ferguson left behind another Premier League trophy and a bronze statue.

The pressure on Moyes' shoulders is immeasurable.

And unlike Dalgish, Ferguson hasn't even gone away.

■ VERDICT: Rodgers is shaking off the shackles of the past. Moyes is just beginning.

2) Shopping for the big boys

Moyes made a startling admission before the season kicked off.

He was struggling with the magnitude of haggling at the highest levels.

Happy as a big fish in Everton's small pond, the Scotsman's success came from unearthing raw gems rather than handing over outlandish sums for the finished article.

Rodgers has learnt his lessons faster. Simon Mignolet, Iago Aspas and, surprisingly, Kolo Toure are proving to be efficient business.

Toure and Mignolet are key reasons why the Reds are yet to concede in the EPL - the goalkeeper could yet go down as one of the signings of the season.

Moyes is making heavy weather of his transfer activity and going public is distinctly un-Manchester United-like; it's beneath a club of their stature.

Under Ferguson, transfer targets were rarely revealed until they were standing next to the manager and posing with a jersey.

Moyes has been vocal in his fruitless hunts for Cesc Fabregas, Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini.

The relative inexperience of new chief executive Ed Woodward must be a contributory factor, but Moyes has still displayed all the subtlety of a Singapore Sweep winner running around a shopping mall. He doesn't quite know how to handle his new-found riches.

VERDICT: Rodgers has been a smooth operator. Moyes looks out of his league.

3) Handling the big boys

Nemanja Vidic claimed this week that the transition between Ferguson and Moyes had been easy, right down to both men having the same Glaswegian accent.

Negative stories are seldom leaked from the United camp (Wayne Rooney aside), but there is a feeling that Moyes is at home on the Carrington training ground. Being anointed by Ferguson himself validated the former Everton manager.

Respect still has to be earned, but getting the thumbs-up from the old man counts within the dressing room among senior pros such as Rio Ferdinand, Vidic and Michael Carrick.

Bringing Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville into the coaching fold was a masterstroke. At Anfield, Rodgers appeared intimidated initially by Liverpool's heritage, lapsing into those grandiose quotes to somehow elevate himself to the rarefied ranks of Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Dalglish. Being caught on camera verbally abusing Raheem Sterling also hinted at insecurity, but he's a settled presence in the dugout now.

VERDICT: Fergie's endorsement gives

4) Handling the bad boys

Moyes inherited a problem with no obvious solution in Rooney. The striker's relationship with Ferguson was irretrievably broken.

Moyes was lumbered with either an angry player or a weakened squad if he sold the player. Initially, he kept his own counsel and that seemed to play into Chelsea and Rooney's hands.

United's uncertainty was portrayed as weakness. Moyes' reluctance to make a firm decision - both publicly and on the team sheet - unsettled the camp.

In the end, he picked Rooney against Chelsea and was validated. If Rooney were to leave now, he could only be portrayed as the villain of such an unsavoury piece.

As for Rodgers, his unstinting support of Luis Suarez bore similarities to Dalglish, initially. He backed his player at any cost, which appeared to be considerable as the Uruguayan ran his mouth off in his national media. Only then did Rodgers assert himself.

He insisted that Suarez had disrespect his teammates (true) and insulted the fans (very true); he owed the club an apology (true) and Arsenal's bid was insulting and undignified (not true, every club seek the best deal, including Liverpool).

Like Moyes with Rooney, Rodgers seized control of the situation. It's now up to both Rooney and Suarez to play either hero or villain.

VERDICT: Honours even. Both coaches were coy at first. Both redeemed themselves.

5) Big-game boldness

A hard one to judge as Liverpool have faced only Stoke and Aston Villa, but Rodgers took the game to the hosts at Villa Park.

Aston Villa were buoyant after flooding Arsenal's defence, with Christian Benteke adding a million bucks to his value almost weekly.

But the Reds went with the attacking triumvirate of Iago Aspas, Phillipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. Caution was a concern, but not at the expense of creativity.

The same could be said of Moyes' United against Chelsea. Moyes drew the battle but won the mini-PR war with Jose Mourinho.

The Blues' conservatism was exasperating.

United failed to win, but not for the want of trying.

Moyes opted for a front three of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Robin van Persie. Mourinho left all his conventional strikers on the bench, preferring to field what he later called his midfield "babies".

The Blues went with the boys. Moyes went with men. He will do so again at Anfield.

Both Moyes and Rodgers will not sit back on Sunday night.

Attack will be the first order of the day.

Both sides will charge, but Moyes has the superior manpower.

■ VERDICT: Playing it safe won't be an option for either manager, but Moyes' men are old hands in the business of winning.


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