Brendan Rodgers tells struggling Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard to act natural

 

Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, has spoken for the first time about Steven Gerrard's poor form this season and said that the captain's sense of responsibility to the young players in the re-shaped team may be on his mind.

Gerrard has scored two goals in 20 games but has also become far more anonymous in the Liverpool midfield, with his performance at Swansea on Sunday one of the poorest in recent years by his standards.

It is hard to avoid the impression that the 32-year-old is taking time to adjust to the manager's new system, which militates against him playing the immediate long pass which has become one of his trademarks. In Rodgers' three-man midfield, Gerrard is neither the link-up man with Luis Suarez nor the defensive shield and has rarely looked so lost as he did at the Liberty Stadium.

Rodgers, whose side go to Tottenham Hotspur tonight, said: "Obviously as the skipper of this club and going through this period he'll maybe feel [the need to rein himself in because of the younger players]. He is so focused on improving this club so it's maybe something subconsciously that is within his mind."

The manager also insisted that there had been no change in the offensive role Gerrard was being asked to play. Rodgers said: "Playing in the 4-3-3 you've got one pivot and two advanced players and it's really those two [including Gerrard] we want to get in the box and scoring goals and that gives us five attacking players all the time with your front three.

"It's his instinct. The great thing is he wants to penetrate. Our game isn't about possession. It's about tempo and the speed of the game, and the way he plays and passes and the tempo of his game is superb. I just want him to be the player he is.

"He's 32 years of age. Steven's one that will fit into the team's balance when we haven't got the ball. But there's been nothing different asked really, because it is the responsibility of the midfield player to get forward and get a goal."

Rodgers, who agreed that the uncertainty created by the change of manager at Chelsea might help in his own club's attempts to secure Daniel Sturridge's signature, was coy when it was put to him that he might have become Spurs manager in the summer: "It's irrelevant and no [it's not interesting]."

Lucas Leiva will be back in the squad against Southampton on Saturday after recovering from injury.

Odds Tottenham 7-5 Draw 12-5 Liverpool 15-8

Kick-off 7.45pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.45pm)

Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy