Brendan Rodgers cooking up a top-four place as Liverpool aim to be no 'flash in the pan'
Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
Sunday 02 December 2012
There are few at Liverpool who would take the sayings of Sir Alex Ferguson to heart. However, Brendan Rodgers appears to believe completely in Ferguson's adage that "every manager must be an optimist".
In the wake of a 1-0 defeat of Southampton thanks to Daniel Agger's 43rd-minute header that was rather more convincing than the scoreline, Rodgers argued this was evidence Liverpool would seriously challenge for a Champions League place.
"The others at the top haven't got away, especially in fourth," said the Liverpool manager. "There are only seven points between us and fourth and the one thing for sure is that we are going to get better. Believe me, we will get better.
"I hope people can see now that we are on the move. It'll be a steep climb for us be we are on the move forward and I would rather do that than be a flash in the pan."
Nobody would accuse Liverpool of being a flash in the pan. Since finishing second under Rafa Benitez in 2009, they have spent four weeks in the top four and more than three years out of it.
There may be seven points between Liverpool and Tottenham but Rodgers will have to overtake seven clubs to get there. However, thus far in the nine matches Liverpool have played against the Premier League's current top 10, they have taken five points
To Rodgers, the new aggression was a natural consequence of Lucas Leiva's return to the Liverpool midfield for the first time since August. "With Lucas, you can see all of a sudden how the right player in the right position frees up the offensive threats," he said. "We have seen glimpses of it before, but for the first time, we were really relentless."
On Sunday, they face West Ham, the only member of the Premier League's top half Liverpool have still to play and they will do so without Luis Suarez, who earned a fifth booking which will at least ensure he starts against Udinese on Thursday – a game Liverpool have to win to guarantee qualification for the knockout phase of the Europa League.
Rodgers was as angry as any have seen him in public when it was suggested the striker had been guilty of cheating when attempting to punch Steven Gerrard's cross into the net. He claimed it was "natural instinct, not cheating as someone has suggested." However, when he added: "I haven't got a replacement, although I do have people capable of getting goals," Rodgers touched upon the single greatest barrier to Liverpool's return to the elite.
Liverpool: REINA 6, JOHNSON 8, SKRTEL 7, AGGER 7, ENRIQUE 7, GERRARD 6, ALLEN 6, LUCAS 7, SHELVEY 7, STERLING 6, SUAREZ 7
Southampton: GAZZANIGA 6, SHAW 6, YOSHIDA 6, FONTE 6, CLYNE 6, LALLANA 6, SCHNEIDERLIN 6, CORK 5, PUNCHEON 5, RAMIREZ 5, LAMBERT 7
Goal: Liverpool Agger 43. Substitutes: Liverpool Henderson 5 (Allen, 69), Carragher (Lucas, 88). Southampton S Davis (Cork, 71), Rodriguez (Puncheon, 78).
Bookings: Liverpool Suarez, Carragher. Man of the match Johnson. Match rating 6/10.
Possession: Liverpool 69%. Southampton 31%.
Attempts on target: Liverpool 11. Southampton 4.
Referee M Oliver (Northumberland). Att 44,525.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Latest in Sport
World Cup 2014 final - Germany vs Argentina preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more
Germany vs Argentina World Cup final 2014: Five reasons why Argentina will win the World Cup
Thomas Vermaelen to Manchester United: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger thwarting Louis van Gaal over transfer
World Cup 2014 final - Germany vs Argentina preview: German team ethic tests Lionel Messi's ability to meet the challenge
Germany vs Argentina match preview: World Cup 2014 final details, including what time does the final kick-off and what channel is it on?
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 5 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action