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?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own