HAPPENING NOW: Juergen Klopp's press con as Liverpool's new coach Click here

Rodgers has bought expensively but poorly for Liverpool

DOWN: Brendan Rodgers (above) looking at a dejected Danny Ings during Liverpool's loss at Old Trafford.

MAN UNITED 3 (Daley Blind 49, Ander Herrera 70, 
Anthony Martial 86)

LIVERPOOL 1 (Christian Benteke 84)

Brendan Rodgers is clutching at straws.

His support base erodes by the week and, after Liverpool's insipid display in a 3-1 loss to Manchester United yesterday morning (Singapore time), it has reached its nadir.

When invention and flair were desperately needed at Old Trafford, his first instinct was to take off a man he specifically bought to solve Liverpool's creative woes.

It said a lot that attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino was the one to make way.

All game, dumped on the right of a three-man Liverpool attack, the 23-year-old Brazilian bore the look of a toddler lost in a shopping mall.

The pre-season capture did little to justify a £29-million ($63.2m) price tag, that's for sure.

But that's somewhat small change, considering the fortune Rodgers has shelled out in the Anfield hot seat.

His quest to return Liverpool to the top four has cost the club close to £300m ($650m) over three seasons.

And the Reds still look nowhere near to being the finished article.

What looks finished, however, is the Northern Irishman's acumen in the transfer market, and probably his Anfield future.

Unlike Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs, Liverpool's American owners emphasise on youth and potential in their transfer policy.

Rodgers is on the same page as his employers but his biggest failing is his inability to spot the promise.

The jury's still out on Firmino, who usually adopts a more central position on the pitch.


But he would do well to heed the cautionary tales of those who arrived in Merseyside before him.

For every Philippe Coutinho, there are a dozen Iago Aspas.

Fans were delighted to see the backs of Mario Balotelli (on loan at AC Milan) and Fabio Borini who, for a combined fee of £26.4m, gave the club nothing but despair. In the stands, the patience with former Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana (£25m) is wearing thin.

Centre back Dejan Lovren (£20m) will find himself lucky to see his name still on the first 11 after this appalling outing.

Exasperatingly, there seems to be no consistency or logic to Rodgers' methods. If loyalty is a manager's way of getting his troubled charges to up their game, there is simply no way of telling in his case.

Young Alberto Moreno, 23, deemed an investment worth paying £12m for a year ago, has made way for an even younger and unproven Joe Gomez, 18.

Lovren is allowed to continue to make a mess of things, while Mamadou Sakho, the £15m defender who impressed last term after a difficult first campaign, sits on the bench.

Likewise, Lazar Markovic, whom Rodgers convinced the club to fork out £20m for, only to be regularly played out of position, has been shipped out to Fenerbahce on loan.

And the glaring weaknesses that run through the team continue to be left untouched, even when the financial support was readily available.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet hardly inspires confidence at the back.

Martin Skrtel appears in need of a new challenge elsewhere, and one suspects he will come to the same conclusion himself anyway, after an extended partnership with Lovren in the heart of defence.

With a foundation as brittle as this, where exactly does Rodgers hope he can go with this team? At the moment, absolutely nowhere.

The fans will be hoping that Rodgers, like Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, ditches the go-youth policy and go for proven talent.

But it is unlikely that the Mesut Oezils and Kevin de Bruynes in the football world would choose Anfield over London and Manchester, certainly not with the Reds nowhere close to Champions League calibre and Rodgers in charge.


Fabio Borini

Alberto Moreno 

Daniel Sturridge 

Nathaniel Clyne 

Joe Allen 

Mamadou Sakho 

Mario Balotelli 

Lazar Markovic 

Dejan Lovren 

Adam Lallana

Roberto Firmino 

Christian Benteke 


"There was no width, they didn't create too many chances, and everyone was giving the ball away. But the biggest thing for me was that they looked characterless. They are leaderless. Jordan Henderson is back soon but there is nobody like Jamie Carragher, no Steven Gerrard. The players are all looking out for themselves."

- Former Liverpool defender 
Mark Lawrenson


"You've got square pegs in round holes and it just doesn't work. You have to make people feel they are playing in positions they are happy to play in and Liverpool haven't got that right now."

- Former Liverpool 
manager Graeme Souness tells 
Rodgers to play players in their usual positions

DROP 4-3-3, GO 

"I don't understand this obsession with playing 4-3-3. The great season they had was with two strikers... now they've got a lot of strikers, no wide players, and he continues to play 4-3-3."

- Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher


3 Manchester United had only three shots on target, and they scored from all three in the win over Liverpool.


Premium content not available

Don't let cynics sway actions

YOURSAY: MP goes to man's aid

Premium content not available

Allow some in cabs to alight near destination

TAXI stands

Premium content not available

They flew in from Bangkok just to get their Iron Man figure

Local and overseas fans queue eagerly for the world premiere of Iron Man Mark III toys at this year's Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention

HAPPY: Thai couple Miss Tawachinee Ponyomma and Mr Chatchawan Pim-at were the first in line to purchase the Hot Toys Iron Man Mark III figure, which made its world premiere in Singapore.
NEW: The Hot Toys Iron Man Mark III (Stealth Mode Version) figure in blue armour made its world debut at STGCC.
"I wanted to be the superhero of my childhood dream and my favourite hero is Iron Man." - Mr Handry Winata, who won the cosplay contest with his white Iron Man costume
DRESS UP: Sim Yi Von cosplaying as Endora yesterday at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comics Convention 2015.
IMPRESSED:Second place winner Taufan Ramadhan cosplaying as Gan.

They flew in from Bangkok, spent the night in a sleeping bag and had only cup noodles for dinner and coffee for breakfast.

Thai couple Mr Chatchawan Pim-at, 40, and Miss Tawachinee Ponyomma, 29, went through all that just to get their hands on the Iron Man Mark III (Stealth Mode Version) limited-edition collectible figure.

The highly-anticipated figure by Hong Kong toy production house Hot Toys made its world premiere at this year's Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC) at the Marina Bay Convention Centre on Saturday.

Mr Chatchawan and Miss Tawachinee, both government civil servants, started queueing from 5pm the previous day, and were the first in line to buy the Iron Man Mark III figure.

It was available in two bundle sets: with the Iron Man 3 Tank Mark XXIV collectible figure, and the Raiden (Inferno Armour Version) collectible figure. Bundles were limited to one per customer.

Each set retailed for $819.90.

Miss Tawachinee said their Bangkok home is "full of toys, even under our bed", but she was happy to support her boyfriend's hobby as she also likes the figures.

By the time the two-day convention's doors were due to open to the public at 10am, the queue for the Iron Man Mark III figures had grown to around 300 people.

Those who purchased VIP tickets to STGCC got their sets earlier as they had priority entry at 9.30am.

One of them, Mr Patrick Koh , 42, was the first in Singapore - and the world - to get his hands on the Iron Man Mark III figure.

"I didn't queue particularly early. I came in at about 8am," the luxury watch supervisor said. "But I'm very excited about owning the Iron Man figures, especially the Mark III, as it's the world premiere for it.

"I've loved Iron Man since I was a kid, and what Hot Toys is doing with the toys is amazing; the level of detail is just awesome. I fell in love with them right away."

Mr Koh confessed that he had spent "about $3,000" on toys that day, including a Bearbrick Action City "Jiang Shi" (Chinese vampire) figure, which debuted at STGCC and is exclusive to Singapore.

After some 17 hours in the queue, Mr Chatchawan added: "It was a long wait, but definitely worth it. I've been a big fan of Iron Man since the movies came out, and these figures will be a great addition to my collection."

Other foreigners in line were Hong Kong university lecturer Ricky Lau, 43, who came to STGCC for the weekend with his 13-year-old son, as well as Miss Anunya Phanidpodchamarn, a 28-year-old hobby shop owner from Bangkok, who was buying the figure on behalf of her sick boyfriend.


One of the big spenders of the day was local toy collector and father of three, Mr Ivan Siow.

He forked out a whopping $4,500 on toys at STGCC, including the Iron Man figures and a Star Wars: The Force Awakens First Order Stormtrooper Squad Leader collectible figure, which was available for pre-order in Singapore for the first time.

"I'll have to get a loan from the bank after this," joked the 55-year-old, who would reveal only that he holds an executive position.

Asked if his wife supports his expensive pastime, Mr Siow replied, with a twinkle in his eye: "She would rather I spent on toys than other vices, like gambling, boozing or going to karaoke bars. Toy collecting is a healthy hobby."

Ms Anita Wong, marketing and business 
development manager for Hot Toys, declined to reveal how many Iron Man and Star Wars collectibles were put on sale for STGCC, but they had not yet sold out at press time yesterday.

"This Iron Man is in a special metallic blue colour that never appeared in the movie, and Hot Toys is the first to launch (it) in 1/6th scale. And the Star Wars: Force Unleashed figures are the latest ones launched...

"The response is good as those are the newest items for customers."

She added: "We chose to unveil these great items at STGCC because Singapore is one of our biggest markets in South-east Asia, and our fans here are excited about our items. Plus, STGCC is the biggest toy and comics event in the region."

Another top highlight of this year's STGCC, which attracted around 45,000 attendees, was the inaugural STGCC Championships of Cosplay competition and Kids Cosplay Parade yesterday.

Accountant Handry Winata from Indonesia won the competition with a white Iron Man costume, rather than the usual red and gold colours.

He spent about four months and $800 putting together the costume and chose white because it is his favourite colour.

Mr Handry, 26, explained how he got into cosplaying: "I wanted to be the superhero of my childhood dream and my favourite hero is Iron Man."

Man sought in Indian blast

Premium content not available

Big gap between online and offline sentiment during GE

Viral nature of social media and silent majority contribute to 'distorted view' of voter sentiment

THANK YOU: The PAP’s winning team for Marine Parade GRC at their victory parade yesterday.

In the online sphere, many signs hinted that the scales would tip in the opposition's favour. There was the positive reaction online to the candidates and the bookies' odds that suggested that the People's Action Party (PAP) would fare badly in the general election.

Yet, the results of last Friday's polls showed the opposite - the ruling party won by a landslide 69.86 per cent overall.

Even Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin admitted yesterday that he was perplexed by the disparity between online and offline voter sentiment.

He described how people would stop their cars, wind down their windows and greet him and his Marine Parade GRC teammates.

Yet, a list of bookies' odds making its rounds on the Internet showed that it would be a marginal win for Marine Parade GRC at best.

"Our ground sense was that it's very warm and supportive, and whether that translated into votes (was) difficult to say. So there was that uncertainty there.

"But we just kept focusing on our people and kept reaching out. That's what we've been doing all this while," Mr Tan said on the sidelines of Marine Parade GRC's victory parade. (See report, below.)

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan attributed the disparity to the viral nature of social media.

He said: "This election demonstrates quite clearly that the anti-establishment folks generally gravitate towards the online sphere to articulate their unhappiness.

"Because of the viral effect in the online sphere, the reach and impact of views there get amplified. From what is seen online, it seemed like it was going to be all doom and gloom for PAP."

University of Tasmania's Professor James Chin, whose research interests lie in politics in Asean countries, said the silent majority contributed to this "distorted view" of the state of play in the general election.

"Imagine if you read the Facebook comments whacking PAP. Many PAP supporters would think it better to keep their mouths shut before they are (verbally) abused.

"The end result was a very one-sided situation that showed people whacking the PAP, when, in fact, many of the supporters merely stayed silent," he said.


But just because there is a gap between online and offline sentiment does not mean social media can be ignored, Prof Tan cautioned.

"It is still a sounding board. The ruling party and Government may have to recognise that while it may not absolutely represent the sentiment on the ground, it would be foolish to ignore it. Social media is here to stay and it's how young Singaporeans communicate," he said.

"The other thing they should bear in mind is that there are also very reasonable and thoughtful views and ideas that are propagated on social media... so it just means that it's up to the ruling party and the Government to separate (the) wheat from (the) chaff.

"It shouldn't be throwing the baby out with the bath water."

This election, he noted, goes to show how Singaporean voters still play their cards close to their chest and that how they behave in front of candidates during the hustings may not be indicative of their political allegiance.

"It still boils down to having a very close ear to the ground and I would say the ground now, like it or not, increasingly would include social media.

"It just means that (the ruling party and Government) would need to take the pulse in many different ways to try to have a good sense of what the public sentiment is," said Prof Tan.

Imagine if you read the Facebook comments whacking PAP. Many PAP supporters would think it better to keep their mouths shut before they are (verbally) abused.

- University of Tasmania's Professor James Chin, on the PAP's silent supporters


Differences will always exist among people, but the more important thing is to work around them and move forward as a nation, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.

"After all, we are still all one Singapore and we're all Singaporeans. So we need to figure out how to rally round, how to continue to converse as best as we can. I'm sure differences won't go away. Some things, we will be able to find common ground.. Some things, we'll have to agree to disagree.

"But the main thing is, let's all move forward together as one nation," he told reporters at Geylang Serai wet market, one of the pit stops of Marine Parade GRC's victory parade yesterday morning.

The People's Action Party's (PAP) win of 64.07 per cent in Marine Parade GRC is about 7.4 percentage points higher than its 2011 General Election performance there and the team received a warm reception during the victory parade that started at Serangoon Avenue 3 and ended at PAP's Kembangan-Chai Chee branch.

At Geylang Serai wet market, for instance, residents dropped their shopping bags and clamoured for selfies and photos with the MPs-elect.

But the win is also a reminder not to be complacent, Mr Tan said.

"We are very deeply appreciative of the residents who supported us, but there are also residents who didn't support us.

"I think our responsibility is to also look out for them, to continue to reach out to them and hope that they will in turn support us again the next time round," he said.

He added that it would be "disastrous" if the strong support they have is taken for granted.

Now that the elections are done and dusted, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tongsaid he will take a back seat in the next parliamentary term.

"I always prefer to look forward to the future so I am now taking a step back, so any questions that you have, please ask the younger ones. That's my role. I'll take a step back and give them my views behind the scenes," the 74-year-old said.

Chee wants SDP to work closer with WP

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan has raised the possibility of his party "working closer together" with the Workers' Party at the next general election.

Dr Chee, 53, said in a Facebook post yesterday afternoon that many of his supporters had put forth the idea to him, so as to "present a more coordinated opposition strategy and message".

He wrote: "Given the outcome of the polls, I think so too. I'll discuss the idea with my CEC (central executive committee) colleagues when we meet later this week.

"Will keep you posted."

He also shared that he spent a quiet weekend with his family.

"It's been an intense past week and yesterday was a day with a bit of much welcomed downtime," he wrote.

Dr Chee's more moderate image and articulate speeches proved to be a big draw at the party's rallies during the hustings.

The former psychology professor at the National University of Singapore, was returning after sitting out the last two elections in 2006 and 2011. He led a team to contest Holland-Bukit Timah GRC against a People's Action Party (PAP) team helmed by Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

But although many had expected a close battle, Dr Chee's SDP team eventually managed only 33.38 per cent of votes, a drop from the 39.92 per cent the SDP obtained there in 2011.

SDP also did not fare well in the other four constituencies it contested - Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, and Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Yuhua SMCs.