Manchester United 3 Liverpool 0: Brendan Rodgers admits 'team ethos' has gone missing but not side's spirit of togetherness

'Simon Mignolet has been fine. He is a good pro. He accepted it'

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Brendan Rodgers admitted tonight that Liverpool have lost their “team ethos” after a defeat which condemned them to a worse 16-game start to this season than David Moyes experienced at Manchester United in their disastrous last campaign.

The Liverpool manager could reflect on three missed opportunities by Raheem Sterling after the 3-0 defeat which leaves them 10 points and seven places adrift of Louis van Gaal’s side – whose sixth successive win keeps them third, five points behind Manchester City and eight off the top. But he admitted: “We want to recapture the team ethos. Chopping and changing [the side] its not easy but whenever it’s consistent that you’re not scoring goals, you are going to look for  solutions to that. The bottom line is we haven’t been consistent enough.”

Rodgers’ decision to change goalkeepers was the latest in a series of positional shifts and changing formations, but the manager insisted that there was no dressing room unrest.

 

“I wouldn’t tell you anyway,” he said. “Internally it will always stay within. Every dressing room will always have issues but in my time it has never been the case. There is nothing of note. The  players are real good honest players. There is an honesty there but they are just not getting results.”

Handing Brad Jones his first Premier League start since March last year did not reap dividends, but Rodgers – who revealed that Glen Johnson stretched his groin forcing his first-half substitution – insisted Simon Mignolet  would not be brought back for Wednesday’s awkward Capital One Cup quarter-final trip to Championship leaders Bournemouth. “Simon has been fine. He is a really good pro. I spoke to him and he accepted it. Brad Jones didn’t have much to do other than take the ball out of the net,” Rodgers said.

Van Gaal clearly felt that Liverpool were vulnerable to pace and said that young striker James Wilson – whose impact on the match was marginal – had been selected for that reason. Van Gaal, who disclosed that Marcos Rojo will undergo scans on the injury which kept him out of today's squad, said: “We are analysing where are the weaknesses of the opponent and then we make our line-up because of that and today I thought [Wayne] Rooney was more a midfielder for us because I need more speed up front and Wilson has speed. That is why I did that, no other reason. Next time Rooney is maybe a striker.”

Van Gaal was justifiably critical of his side’s sloppiness in possession in a match which gave no cause to believe that United can challenge Chelsea or City for the title.

“Of course, we are winning now – six matches in a row – [which] is fantastic. But we have to improve our playing style still and I am saying that nearly every week. Only after the matches after Queen’s Park Rangers and Hull City I have said: ‘OK, we are dominating the game 90 minutes’.

“We could have dominated the game for 90 minutes today but we didn’t do that,” Van Gaal added. “We gave unnecessary balls away in the second half. We have to improve but we are very pleased because we know what it is to win against Liverpool. Everybody is happy. My cook is happy, my wife is happy and I am happy.”

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Robin van Persie celebrates scoring United's third

United’s Michael Carrick said that the side could now look to the top of the table at last, rather than over their shoulders. They will believe they can gain a substantial number of points out of Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Stoke City over Christmas.

“Yes, I suppose we are always looking up,” Carrick, who was outstanding in defence, said. “We are always looking at how we can get to the top of the table. All in all, we are in a pretty decent position at the moment.

“We need to stay up there, then come Christmas and come January, as we’ve said for many years now, if we are up there challenging then we will give ourselves a great chance. We just want to keep this run going week by week and see where it takes us.”

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