Brendan Rodgers searches for a Manchester City break to win over ambivalent Kop
The Kop is an institution that is easy to love and hard to impress. With the fall of Kenny Dalglish, they lost a man most of them had idolised since boyhood and tomorrow Brendan Rodgers will begin the task of winning them round.
That his first league game at Anfield as Liverpool manager pits him against the champions is probably a blessing. Defeat should not spark the panicky phone calls to radio stations that festered in the aftermath of last Saturday's 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion and it will serve as a test of some rapid rebuilding that continued with the signing of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid on a year's loan.
"We still have a bit of work to do and with all due respect we are still playing catch-up, especially when you look at some of the squads other clubs have assembled," said Rodgers. "If we fall short, it won't be for the want of trying. We want to make the supporters proud."
Sahin, the 24-year-old Turkey midfielder who became the youngest player to feature in the Bundesliga, would, Rodgers said, add some sparkle to a midfield that will probably be without Charlie Adam if any club can stump up around £5m.
"Sahin did fantastically well at Dortmund and achieved a lot at a very young age," said the Northern Irishman. "Because of that, he got a move to Real Madrid, where because of injury it hasn't really worked out for him.
"However, he is still a wonderful player, both technically and tactically, and we hope that extra bit of quality will really help the group." Whether there is a place for Andy Carroll in that group is a moot point. But for a slight hamstring strain, the big centre-forward would probably have featured in Thursday's narrow 1-0 win over Heart of Midlothian that Edinburgh would not have considered the greatest entertainment available during the Festival. Carroll will train at Melwood today and may feature against Manchester City, if only to place him in a shop window.
Rodgers made the usual noises about "turning Anfield into a fortress", although last season under Dalglish it had its drawbridge down and its cannons plugged with cotton wool. The six home wins Dalglish achieved was one more than Wigan managed.
"What I want to ensure is that, if Liverpool lose, then the team that wins will have to perform well," said Rodgers. "When I look back on the West Brom game, I think we could have played it 1,000 times and it could not have worked out worse for us than it did – and in every way.
"However, the response I have seen this week from the players has been outstanding and they are focused on moving on. I don't think you can make a judgement about a team until after the first 10 games when the transfer window has closed and everyone has calmed down. But I don't think some people can wait for 10 games."
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