Brendan Rodgers blames the 'weight of the jersey' for Liverpool's poor form this season

Reds boss blaming pressure for stuttering early season performances

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says the "weight of the jersey" is to blame for his team's early season struggles.

After finishing just two points away from winning the Barclays Premier League last season, Liverpool have won just two of their five matches so far this season, with new signings Mario Balotelli, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren struggling in Red.

Liverpool spent more than £100m on nine players this summer as they tried to replace 31-goal striker Luis Suarez who joined Barcelona for £75m; but so far those replacements have failed to fire while striker Daniel Sturridge has been injured.

Rodgers also conceded that he has used formations that are not suited to certain players. Liverpool may have conceded twice in the first seven minutes at Upton Park, but they were outplayed by West Ham and failed to create any real chances apart from the goal.

Mario Balotelli and other new signings have struggled so far

"Our passing disappointed me," Rodgers said. "We played more long passes than West Ham and that is something you have not seen from us in over the two years. We need to get back to doing what we do best. I look at the movement patterns in our team, our pressing in those patterns of pressure and, given the injuries, I need to retain a system for a longer period.

"The 4-4-2 diamond worked really well but it worked well with certain players and not at the weekend. Until I get all the players back that I know are multi-functional players, I’ll look at the strength of the players we do have fit. Hopefully that gives them confidence. Confidence has not been affected so far but if you don’t win games for too long it can be."

The defending in particular has been an issue with Liverpool again conceding from a set-piece for the second match in a row.

He added: "We’ve conceded eight goals and the majority of those could have been avoided but what people probably don’t get is the pressure of playing for such a big club. The weight of the jersey here is heavy for most players. Once you adapt to playing for Liverpool you become clearer in your thinking."

Liverpool face Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night and Rodgers is preparing to play youngsters to give his injury-hit squad a rest ahead of the Merseyside derby against Everton on Saturday.

Midfield is a particular concern, Emre Can and Joe Allen are already out while Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho could join them; Steven Gerrard is badly in need of a rest and has started the season poorly.

Teenagers Jordan Rossiter and Sheyi Ojo could be handed debuts.

"A number of the young boys are training with us and working with us. These kids need a chance and if that comes [Tuesday] night we hope they can take it," said Rodgers.