Liverpool cannot depend on Steven Gerrard says Roy Hodgson
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has told his squad they cannot keep relying on the brilliance of captain Steven Gerrard to get them out of trouble and must start proving their worth to the club.
The England midfielder has been one of the better players this season, even though he has not reached his usual high standards, but against Napoli last night he produced a 45-minute masterclass which underlined his undeniable quality.
Hodgson admitted the 30-year-old made it look easy in coming off the bench to dominate the second half with a performance capped by a hat-trick in the final 15 minutes.
It secured a 3-1 Europa League victory and a third win in succession for the first time in a campaign which has been a struggle from the start.
Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea are next up at Anfield on Sunday and although Hodgson would welcome another star turn from Gerrard, he wants Liverpool to become more than a one-man team.
"I want every player to step up to the plate and do not want us to be totally dependent on Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres," he said.
"I want us to be dependent on the players who have been given the Liverpool shirt and given contracts at this big club.
"I've enjoyed one or two performances recently because I can identify more with the shape of the team and the work-rate and the effort and energy we are putting into games.
"If we sharpen up on the technical aspects of our game and we don't maybe miss quite so many clear-cut goal chances and we start to cross the ball a little bit better when we get into good positions I'll be happier still.
"But with the players and quality I have at the club I know that will come.
"These things are affected by confidence and we had such a bad start to the season it is going to take a while to pull ourselves out of the mire but at least we are trying hard to get out of it."
That said, the Reds boss said it would be wrong to ignore the efforts of Gerrard, who registered his fourth hat-trick for the club and took his European tally to 38 in 116 games.
"He made it look easy and it isn't," said the 63-year-old.
"It was a magnificent performance and I'm delighted for Liverpool Football Club we have a player of that quality.
"I've got to the stage in my life where goals like Steven's equalising goal (sliding in to beat goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis) give me even more pleasure than the 30-yard wonder strikes or ones which come after flowing moves.
"That is because they show there is so much energy, spirit, determination and fight and that is what we need.
"You know his quality but I thought, even without Steven, we would have seen a lively and aggressive second half.
"But of course whether that would have given us the three goals without him is another question."
Hodgson said it was right the midfielder should be able to bask in the praise as the player had been hurt particularly badly by their poor start this season.
"I was really pleased for the team and the club because I know Steven is the team and the club.
"Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher (born in Huyton and Bootle respectively) are the heart and soul of the club and they take defeats so badly.
"If there are three people who have suffered more than anyone from our bad start it is myself and those two because I don't want to be in that position and they certainly don't.
"I'm sure Steven will be delighted with himself and his contribution but he will also be quite pleased that suddenly there is light at the end of the tunnel.
"If we can keep this going through 28 league games, plus the FA Cup and the Europa League, there will be some good nights ahead."
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