Rodgers relishes Liverpool progress
On the final whistle José Reina covered his head with his garish yellow jersey and disguised the disgust at his part in Sergio Aguero’s equaliser for Manchester City. One slip, one sublime finish, and Liverpool’s wait for a win over a team in the top half of the Premier League continues. On days such as this the delay defies logic.
“That game typified our season,” said Brendan Rodgers. “We were outstanding in our game and in our model of work but we were punished for our mistakes. It’s difficult, because it is a game we should have won. Once we eliminate those mistakes, and we will do because there is too much great work going on, the draws will turn into wins and we will be a real force.”
Judging by the reaction of Liverpool’s travelling fans after the draw, more fervent support than Reina-style despair, that belief is shared.
The Liverpool manager feels too much has been made of his team’s results against the top 10, that it is some kind of media invention, and claims to be unperturbed by the winless sequence thanks to the progress made by his team. The first point is disingenuous, supporters dwell on them too, but the second received further substance at the Etihad Stadium.
For the second time this season Liverpool were superior to the Premier League champions and held to a 2-2 draw. Reina’s decision to rush from his goal and the team’s inability to contain City at a throw-in enabled Aguero, somehow, and Edin Dzeko to claim a point for Roberto Mancini’s side.
For once Rodgers found it “difficult” to take consolation in the positives and yet, even on a day when the gap between Liverpool and fourth place widened and their endeavour gave Manchester United assistance in the title race, they were abundant.
From the improvement in a defence marshalled by Jamie Carragher to Steven Gerrard’s magnificent goal and the blossoming partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool operated on a different plane to their previous Sunday offering, that lamentable FA Cup exit at Oldham.
“We showed great character,” added Rodgers. “We just miss the two or three players that can really help the group, players that Manchester City can buy.”
Liverpool were sharper and more threatening in attack than their hosts. A reflection of the quality of Sturridge’s performance was that it left the contribution of Suarez in the shade. No mean feat. Rodgers said: “Daniel’s movement, pace and hold-up play was excellent. His combination with Luis was outstanding.”
City got behind the Liverpool defence only once in the first half, although they made the most of the opportunity with Dzeko escaping Daniel Agger’s loose attention to score, while the visitors’ movement and Sturridge’s pace caused frequent problems.