Steven Gerrard will remain in new 'Andrea Pirlo role', says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

The England captain has returned from injury in a deep lying position

Brendan Rodgers’ plan to reinvent Steven Gerrard as a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mould will not be put on hold despite the self-confessed disaster his captain suffered in the role before Liverpool salvaged a point against Aston Villa on Saturday – with the aid of a disputed penalty won by Luis Suarez.

“It didn’t work for myself or the team,” Gerrard admitted. “Villa put a lot of men around me and every time I tried to get the ball under control in the first half they swamped me. It wasn’t one of my better 45 minutes.”

Liverpool recovered from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 after Gerrard reverted to a more familiar attacking function, with Lucas Leiva coming off the bench to take his place in front of the back four. Yet Rodgers believes that 33-year-old Gerrard is capable of flourishing late in his career in the way that 34-year-old Pirlo still pulls the strings at Juventus. The plan, he says, will not be shelved.

“We never got the control in midfield against [Villa’s] diamond and could not build our play, so we needed to change the structure of the team,” Rodgers said. “But there is absolutely no question Steven can play the role and I don’t regard it as a setback, not at all.

“It is a mark of his identity as a player that he could influence the game in that offensive area. It just shows his importance to the team, with the pass he played to put Luis in [to win the penalty] and his composure to take the penalty under pressure. The system is irrelevant. Our style will always be to control and dominate games and at times this season we have had to be flexible and adaptable in our play. You have to give credit to the players in that they did that and got something from the game.”

Fall guy: Luis Suarez tumbles to the rescue as Liverpool snatch a point against Aston Villa  

Yet the fact remains that in a game and a half with Gerrard on his learning curve, Liverpool have conceded five goals and only a week after the 5-3 win at Stoke led Rodgers to talk about a title challenge, the gap between themselves and the leaders has been stretched from six points to eight. Should Everton win at West Bromwich Albion tonight, Liverpool will no longer even be in the top four. 

Moreover, after the excursion to Bournemouth in the FA Cup, Everton are Liverpool’s next opponents, at Anfield a week tomorrow.  Suddenly, the idea of a title bid seems somewhat optimistic.  As Rodgers admitted, the pressure of trying to secure a place in the Champions League is great enough. It is assumed to be the minimum requirement spelled out to Rodgers at a rare meeting with club owner John W Henry on Saturday.

Villa went two goals up through Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke, both made by Gabriel Agbonlahor. Then Daniel Sturridge confirmed his well-being just before half-time by scoring his second goal in as many games since returning to fitness, before Suarez won a contentious spot kick to make possible the equalising goal.

Lucas may have solved Saturday’s dilemma but had to be replaced himself after 20 minutes because of a knee injury.  The Brazilian, who was out for six months from November 2011, left Anfield on crutches.

 

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey
film
Sport
Bafetibis Gomis of Swansea City is stretchered off at White Hart Lane
football
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
people
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
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

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot