Swansea v Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers promises there is plenty more to come after adding steel to style

Manager delighted with the signing of two new centre-backs before his side face Swansea

Brendan Rodgers rose to prominence as a manager at Swansea thanks to the stylish, continental way his side played that led to them being dubbed “Swansalona”. But at Liverpool his record this season owes more to old-fashioned defensive solidity.

Three games, three wins, three clean sheets – a perfect way to begin any campaign and if that was not impressive enough, Rodgers added two centre-backs on transfer deadline day when Tiago Llori, 20, and Mamadou Sakho, 23, arrived for a combined fee of £23m.

They will compete with Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Touré for the two – or three – spots at the heart of the Liverpool defence. “It’s a nice problem to have,” said Rodgers, before his return to his former club tonight. “I’d rather this than have a lack of talent to choose from. It just keeps everyone on their toes.

“I want to protect the present and the future of the club. Centre-halves are so hard to find now. You look at some teams, they’ve still got ageing centre-halves because it’s very difficult to get a really good one.

“This summer, we were fortunate enough that two became available, one that we’ve been tracking for nearly a year in Tiago Llori. He can be a big talent. He’s 6ft 3in, so quick, got power and can jump. He needs to adapt to the physicality of the league. He’s one that can be a big talent.

“Sakho’s 23. He’s an experienced player. He has full international caps and looks an absolute monster in training. He’s one who’s ready for now. That’s what we want. We had the chance to do that and protect the club for maybe the next 10 years.”

Rodgers’ successor at Swansea, Michael Laudrup, believes Liverpool are already strong enough to reclaim their place in the Champions League after an absence of four years.

“We will still have to see how things will turn out as it is early in the season, but they are very close to Arsenal and Tottenham,” said the Dane.

“They are definitely a better side than last year. The players that came in last year have more experience, and they have added some quality in Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, who have played a lot of games and settled in. They are a lot closer to Arsenal and Tottenham than they have been for a couple of years and they will be battling for the top four.”

Rodgers is winning over hearts and minds on Merseyside with the battling nature his side have displayed this year, but he acknowledges that style is just as important at Liverpool as it was at Swansea – and probably more so.

“I think that’s a part of the growth of the team,” he said. “You look at the win over Stoke [on the opening day of the season]. We were outstanding in our football but we had to dig in. It’s never easy at 1-0, no matter how dominant you are. These are characteristics we’re working on day in, day out, with exercises, on the pitch and off the pitch to improve that mentality.

“It doesn’t just happen. Sometimes when you come in as a coach with a philosophy and a certain way you want to play, people always think it’s just about the ball. And it’s not that.

“You’ve got to have the courage to play, to pass, but then you’ve got to have the steel, the will and the desire to win games. Over the period of time, that message has got through and over six or seven months or so, that’s proven on the field.

“Each of the three games have been different [this season]. Against Aston Villa we were outstanding in the first half. In the second half, tactically, we dropped deeper because we knew Villa’s strength was counter-attacking and running. We denied them space.

“Tactically, our players were brilliant and, when our keeper had to make a save at the end, he did that.

“Manchester United was about the result, about winning. We could have played well and been really dominant but then lost the game.

“But winning 1-0, pressing high in the first half and having to dig in in the second half, that told me we’re on the right path.

“Hopefully, we’ll continue to show all those fighting qualities and there’ll be times when we’re better. I said last year I thought the second half of the season would be better and I think we’ll see that again.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor