Brendan Rodgers makes a solid defence for Liverpool rearguard
Ahead of Southampton clash Reds manager says he’d be happy to win 4-3 every week
Rodgers rejects the charge that Liverpool are missing Jamie Carragher, or that the defence lacks a leader with sufficient personality to impose himself on opponents and maintain a level of defensive discipline. “We have showed resilience in coming back from behind enough times this season,” he said.
“I don’t think you can question the character of the team, and this is about the team, it’s not about any particular individual. I have been coaching for 20 years, I know what top defenders and centre-halves look like, and what it takes to play there.
“We have been unfortunate at times, some of the mistakes we have made have been through players trying to take responsibility, others have just been mistakes. We all make them, but I don’t think it is fair to suggest that all we do is set up to attack, to fly up the pitch without anyone thinking about defending.
“There is more substance to our work than that, we want to be a really balanced team. We have two great goalscorers but the whole team has a defensive responsibility too. If we concede it is because we are not pressing well enough at the other end.”
Southampton are still the only side to have won at Anfield in the league all season, Dejan Lovren scoring the only goal of the game in September, and have an excellent record against Liverpool at home, where they have lost only once in the past seven Premier League meetings.
Luis Suarez was still serving his suspension when Southampton won on Merseyside – he has managed to score 23 goals since – though a greater factor in the game was Rodgers reshuffling his back line to the extent of playing four centre-halves, with Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho fitting in as full-backs either side of Agger and Martin Skrtel. “It wasn’t ideal,” Rodgers said. “We had injuries that meant we had to play people in different positions than usual.”
While Rodgers will admit to being concerned about defensive aberrations – “It has been consistent, that’s the reality of it” – he is far too much of a glass-half-full man to become depressed about it when everything is still to play for.
“We have put ourselves in a great position with 11 games to go,” he said.
“There has been a focus on this part [defensive shortcomings] here for a while, but it’s part of my job to not get too down about it. We really have to focus now on the great parts of our game, and with 11 games to go it is about winning. We want to try and win every single game, and if we win 11 games by four goals to three I will be delighted.”