Brendan Rodgers has declared ahead of Saturday’s Merseyside derby that his Liverpool team’s game is “broken” because he has lost the core of players who had become familiar with his principles.
The manager, whose side have lost three of their five Premier League games this season and seem likely to be without Daniel Sturridge on Saturday lunchtime at Anfield, admitted that the loss of Luis Suarez had deprived him of a player “who was brilliant for me”.
Rodgers said that he was having to go back to the start, to reintroduce the principles he had brought to the club over the last 18 months. In Liverpool’s defence, he pointed out that the like-for-like points tally from the five teams they have faced in the league this season is only one less than from 2013-14.
“I think at this moment in time we are refocusing and reintroducing principles into our game that have brought the win ratio we’ve had in the last 18 months,” said Rodgers, who is defending an undefeated Premier League record against Everton at Anfield that reaches back to September 1999. “Apart from the Tottenham game, we have moved away a bit from that. Our game is based on a fast, pressing game and a real high intensity and also the speed of our football.
“We put a lot of hard work in during the first six months to a year that we were here and a lot of those processes became natural and then the consequence of that is winning. When you introduce a raft of new players and lose the core of players, that’s obviously a factor and then it becomes a little bit broken and that’s how our game has looked for me for a big part of the season.”
With Liverpool still looking for evidence that Mario Balotelli can become a consistent threat, Rodgers said that the Italian striker was not yet a world-class player – in the same way that Suarez was not one when he arrived from Ajax in 2011. “I think Mario is potentially world class,” Rodgers said. “World class is about being at the highest level consistently, being at that level in your game consistently. That’s what takes you there. Suarez elevated himself, that was clear. He wasn’t world class when he came in but when he left to go to Barcelona he had put himself in that bracket because of his consistency in scoring goals and keeping his performance level high.
“You can’t compare Suarez and Mario,” he added, “but Mario is coming in as an international striker and he has the experience. He’s got a lot of experience for 24, so for him it is about being quality consistently. That is what can elevate him to that level.”
On Sturridge’s recovery from the thigh injury sustained while on England duty, Rodgers said: “He is out in the field working. He won’t be match fit because he has not played games but if he doesn’t make it, he won’t be far off.”
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