Rodgers rues Liverpool slump

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Published: Sunday 14th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Brendan Rodgers watched Liverpool crumble to a 3-0 defeat at Manchester United and then admitted his men have lost the team ethos that nearly won them the title last year.

Just nine months ago Rodgers strutted out of Old Trafford following a 3-0 win, but on Sunday his team lost to their biggest rivals by the same margin thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie.

The Northern Irishman almost guided Liverpool to the Premier League title last year, but they are now 10th, some 18 points shy of leaders Chelsea.

Rodgers spent £117million on nine players in the summer, but they have not gelled. The Reds were knocked out of the Champions League after just one victory in the group stages and it will take an almighty improvement if they are to play in Europe’s top club competition next season.

Rodgers conceded after the final whistle that his squad lack the cohesion and spirit that took them a whisker away from their first title in 24 years last term.

“The whole scenario was about looking to build a team again. We want to recapture the team ethos,” the Liverpool boss said.

“We had a team that was growing for a couple of years and has changed with injuries.”

When the transfer window opens in a couple of weeks, chief among Rodgers’ targets has to be a striker.

Without Luis Suarez, who departed for Barcelona in the summer, and the injured Daniel Sturridge, they look blunt up front.

Liverpool have scored just 19 goals in 16 matches. At this point last year they had found the net 39 times.

Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli have scored just one Premier League goal between them this season so Rodgers started Raheem Sterling up front on Sunday.

That move backfired as he missed three good opportunities, although that was partly down to David de Gea, who was voted man of the match for yet another outstanding display in the United goal.

“It epitomised what our season has been,” the Liverpool manager said when asked to reflect on his team’s profligacy.

“They (United) were much more clinical when they needed to be.

“You come here and create so many chances. You would expect to score at least two or three.

“We have nowhere near enough goals in the team and that has put pressure on the team.”

Rodgers still believes the scoreline was unfair on his men.

“I didn’t think we deserved to be on the end of the scoreline,” he said.

“It is not often you come here and create that many chances.

“It was not a 3-0 match. For the goalkeeper to get man of the match tells you everything.”

Rodgers was unhappy Michael Mullarkey let Mata’s goal stand when he was offside following Van Persie’s flick on from Ashley Young’s cross.

“The second was clearly offside. That is a poor decision,” the Liverpool manager said.

Rodgers’ opposite number Louis van Gaal stuck to his position on not singling players out for praise, and would not reveal how negotiations are progressing on extending De Gea’s contract, which expires in 18 months.

“That is between the club and the player and it is not open for discussion for the media,” Van Gaal said.

The Dutchman was a little more forthcoming when asked to assess what the win meant for him and the United fans, who have watched their team climb to third in recent weeks following a six-match winning streak.

“Everybody is happy,” said Van Gaal, who had been told by club chef and lifelong United fan Mike Donnelly he must win the grudge match. “My cook is happy, my wife is happy and I am happy.”

Van Gaal had shoddy defending from Liverpool to thank for the win as much as his own players.

Rooney was completely unmarked when he put United ahead in the 12th minute and a woeful clearance by Dejan Lovren allowed Van Persie to net the third.

For that reason, Van Gaal believes there is still room for improvement from his team.

“We have won six matches in a row, that is fantastic but we have to improve our playing style,” he said.

“We gave unnecessary balls away in the second half. We have to improve but we are very pleased because we know what it is to win against Liverpool.”

Van Gaal said Marcos Rojo was left out of the squad because of an injury he suffered in training.

Liverpool’s Glen Johnson, meanwhile, faces a spell on the sidelines after suffering what he said was a groin muscle tear in the first half.

Published: Sunday 14th December 2014 by The News Editor

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