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Brendan Rodgers working out solutions to edge Liverpool to the top

By Robert Jones

Published 07/04/2015

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool need to overhaul their play on the pitch - and strengthen their personnel off it - if the club is to finish the season strongly and compete regularly for Champions League places.

The Ulsterman's frank assessment - which comes just nine months after an unprecedented Anfield spending spree of £100m - is being regarded as an admission that last summer's attempted revamp has not worked.

After the defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal that all but extinguished their hopes of qualifying again for the European elite, Liverpool's season hangs on tomorrow's FA Cup quarter-final replay at Blackburn Rovers.

Should the Anfield men finish with what would be only their second piece of silverware in nine years, the season might just be counted as a success.

However, the Liverpool manager knows that once it is done the powers that be at Anfield will have to address the question of how a club that is fifth in the Premier League in terms of spending and turnover regularly breaks into the top four.

"That is not the attitude we want at the club," said Rodgers.

That was in response to a question as to whether fifth was not Liverpool's natural position.

"We have to fight to get in there and, whatever the barriers that are in front of us, we have to do everything we can to break them down," said Rodgers.

Liverpool spent huge money in the summer in order to bolster a squad that had to compete for the title and in Europe. However, weaknesses remain in attack and in the heart of their defence.

In Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool possessed the Premier League's top two goalscorers last season, with 52 goals between them.

Their two leading scorers this time around have an astonishing 40 fewer.

"We are still trying to find solutions at the top end of the field," said Rodgers.

"Our top goalscorer has six goals - we have three players on six - so we have to find a solution to that, but when everyone is fit and available we are able to compete with this squad."

However, as Rodgers knows too well, Sturridge is rarely fit and available for a whole season. Dejan Lovren, who for £20m was supposed to be the centrepiece of a rebuilt defence, was not considered good enough to replace the suspended Martin Skrtel at Arsenal.

Since Emre Can, sent off at the Emirates Stadium, will be unavailable at Ewood Park, Lovren will start tomorrow.

"You bring in players with the intention of them all doing well," said Rodgers.

"What you cannot vouch for when they come to a club of this size is how long that adaption process is going to take.

"You can be a very good player and not hit it off for some reason or it just takes time, like Lucas Leiva.

"It didn't happen for him early on in his Liverpool career but he ended up doing well and the supporters appreciate the role he plays.

"It is just unfortunate that these players need time and you don't get that in modern football."

Rodgers was adamant that, despite reports to the contrary, the team meeting at Melwood on Easter Sunday did not turn into a slanging match as to who was responsible for Liverpool's recent failings.

The meeting, he said, was routine.

"This was no different to a whole host of meetings we have had here all year. Those meetings helped us to recover from a bad start and win 10 games out of 13."

Liverpool were propelled for those 13 matches by the radical 3-4-3 formation that saw them become once more the fluid, attacking force which was so much in evidence and successful last season.Ro

Rodgers denied that managers like United's Louis van Gaal and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger had now worked out a method of combating that formation, pointing out that it was not the system that has let Liverpool down in recent games but the way it has been implemented.

"Our possession just hasn't been good enough; that has been the key to it," he said.

"We have to build the game quickly and there is no excuse for not doing so at the Emirates because the pitch is so wonderful.

"It was the same against Manchester United and in the first half at Swansea

"The speed of our game hasn't been there and nor has the speed of our passing. I don't think it was anything to do with the system."

Belfast Telegraph

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