Brendan Rodgers: “I’m the best man for Liverpool”

Brendan Rodgers has insisted he is still the best man for the job at Liverpool after their season took another disappointing turn when they were knocked out of the Champions League by Basle in midweek.

Liverpool travel to Old Trafford on Sunday lunchtime to face rivals Manchester United, and Rodgers can barely afford another defeat with his team languishing in mid-table.

It is all a far cry from last season, when they took the title race to the last day of the season before finishing second to Manchester City.

Rodgers has borne the brunt of the criticism but said he was working hard to turn the corner.

"I think the message from me is clear: I don't think there would be anyone better to do the job here," he told several national newspapers. "Seven months ago we nearly won the title unexpectedly, I had time to work with players and we took them beyond where the club has been in a long time.

"This has been a difficult start with new players, less coaching time, young players; we are virtually starting again. I don't think there is anybody better equipped to deal with that having been here for the last two and a half years and experienced what this club is about and seeing what we get from the players whenever we are at our best.

"Criticism comes with the territory when you don't win games. Football is very short term. The same people who are criticising me now were maybe saying I couldn't do anything wrong six or seven months ago. That is the way football works. You have to accept that as a manager and fight even harder to bring success. This period has ensured I will do that for sure."

Liverpool have struggled to score goals since the departure of Luis Suarez, with Daniel Sturridge's season to date ruined by injuries and summer signing Mario Balotelli failing to fire.

The Italian has been no stranger to controversy, and has provided written mitigation arguing his case in an attempt to lessen his punishment after accepting a Football Association misconduct charge in relation to making racist and anti-semitic comments on social media.

Balotelli, who could face United after recovering from a groin injury, opted against requesting a personal hearing but Press Association Sport understands the 24-year-old has written to the disciplinary panel to explain his actions.

Balotelli was charged a week ago with breaching FA rule E3(1) as a result of his posting of an image of computer game character Super Mario on Instagram which included the words "jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew" and his offence was deemed to be an 'aggravated breach', as defined by rule E3(2), as it included a reference to ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality or religion or belief.