Belfast Telegraph

Time running out for Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool boss feels heat

By Andy Hampson

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers goes into tomorrow's Merseyside derby with Everton under severe pressure, but the Ulsterman is keeping his cool.

The Carnlough native has watched his side win just one of their last five Premier League games and the critics are in full voice.

Rodgers, however, says he is not worried about his position following his side's poor start to the season.

Liverpool are ninth in the league - four places and a point behind Everton.

"I'll always work the best I can. But I'm not seeking any reassurances," said Rodgers when talking about his job.

"It's not something I'm worried about," he added.

Everton fought back from 2-0 down to beat West Brom 3-2 on Monday in the league and, although there little separating the teams going into the derby, Rodgers has been feeling the heat.

The Reds boss added: "Everton have done well. They are a point ahead of us. They've had a good start and we've had a disaster!"

Liverpool drew 1-1 at home to Swiss side FC Sion in the Europa League on Thursday.

And one of their only two wins in the last eight games in all competitions came during penalties against League Two side Carlisle in the Capital One Cup.

"We are back into that flow of creating chances," said Rodgers. "We go to Everton with confidence.

"There is no greater pressure than what I've had before. We are five points off the top. The players and I are very calm."

Meanwhile, Rodgers has been lamenting the fact that the Merseyside derby will be the first for nearly 30 years not to feature a Scouser in red on the pitch.

Not since Liverpool beat Everton in the 1986 FA Cup final has a match between the two sides been played without the input of a city native for the Anfield outfit, and Rodgers feels that means tomorrow's game at Goodison Park is missing something special.

"I saw that it was 1986 the last time, wasn't it? The cup final," said the Liverpool manager when asked about the lack of Scousers.

"So it is a long time and obviously over the course of the years it is something there has always been here, so it will be strange.

"I have seen it from the outside looking in and being here I am very keen on ensuring we nurture the young talented boys from Merseyside to get into the team.

"We have seen it with young (midfielder Jordan) Rossiter - he is not ready to play in a game of that magnitude yet. Obviously Jon Flanagan, if he was fit, would be playing in it and that is a disappointment (that he can't).

"You always see here my look will be to our local talent and hopefully we will have some coming through in the coming years."

The Liverpool manager, who will give a last fitness test to Christian Benteke in the hope that the Belgian striker will be able to return after three games out with a hamstring injury, added that local players could give a side an edge in a derby.

"What I have always loved about going into these games is that when you have that local player in there, they want it so much more."

Despite being in better form Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists it is Liverpool who should be viewed as favourites in the derby, saying: "If you look at it in terms of the amount of money Liverpool spent over the last three seasons, clearly they need to be the favourites and the ones carrying expectations.''

Belfast Telegraph


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