Arsenal v Liverpool: English footballers are as skilful as Brazilians, claims Brendan Rodgers

'It's a load of tosh' that Spaniards or South Americans are technically superior, says Liverpool manager

Brendan Rodgers says it is "tosh" to suggest England produce technically inferior footballers to those in Europe and South America.

With the World Cup looming, the Liverpool manager last night argued that English players are suffering from a wholly unwarranted inferiority complex – a myth which Liverpool's performances should have helped explode.

Had Steven Gerrard's brilliant pass that curled between two Fulham defenders to set up Daniel Sturridge's equaliser on Wednesday been made in the Nou Camp rather than at Craven Cottage, it would have been hailed as typical of Barcelona. It also demonstrated the kind of technique Roy Hodgson's side are not supposed to be taking to Brazil.

"My life's work has been trying to show that British players can play," said Rodgers. "I grew up being told English players weren't technically as good as Europeans, which was the biggest load of tosh I'd ever heard.Spanish players are born the same as British players. We have an inferiority complex, absolutely. I have worked with kids from five years of age through to some of the biggest players in the world. I have a decent idea of what technique looks like.

"John Terry is a tactically brilliant centre-half. Frank Lampard has wonderful qualities. Steven Gerrard is the best player I have worked with for tempo and technique.

"You look at an England team with Gerrard, Lampard and Paul Scholes in midfield, they would have dominated games."

The Gerrard, Lampard, Scholes combination was selected for only one major tournament, the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, which was the last competition England looked like they might win.

The Liverpool players who ripped Arsenal apart 5-1 at Anfield last Saturday and who will face them in the FA Cup this afternoon are mostly English – talents like Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Gerrard.

"Look at Jon Flanagan," said Rodgers of his young full-back. "At one point, we didn't have any clubs who even wanted him on loan. Everyone is talking about how good Jordan Henderson is tactically. We can do that in this country but they need to be encouraged and have the confidence and will to do it."

It was, however, a Brazilian, Philippe Coutinho, who contributed most to Arsenal's annihilation at Anfield. He is Liverpool's Juan Mata or Mesut Özil, although he cost the club less than a quarter of the fees that David Moyes or Arsène Wenger paid out.

"He is a snip," said Rodgers. "We have got the best passer in the Premier League, a technician who can thread the ball through and a runner who can penetrate and run without the ball.

"When I worked at Chelsea, I used to watch Deco. He was a bit older than Philippe but I still remember his first training session when he got a round of applause. It was just pure quality and that is what Coutinho has. He is a little street footballer with a wonderful vision."

The vision of being 4-0 up after 20 minutes against Arsenal still lingers at the club's training ground at Melwood. "That game was as good as it gets," added Rodgers.

"I can only remember being involved in one game like it, when I was a coach at Chelsea and we went 3-0 up against Barcelona in the opening period at Stamford Bridge.

"You couldn't believe it. The win over Arsenal was at that level but it was different for me because I was the manager. Seeing your work bear fruit against a team that is winning the League, was very satisfying."

It led Rodgers' former boss, Jose Mourinho, to comment that Liverpool were now genuine title contenders. "Go back to September 2012 and look at what Jose said when I came here," said Rodgers. "He said the club was not set up to win the League and it would be a miracle if I did it here. I take it as an incredible compliment that we are now being talked about in that way."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms