Brendan Rodgers: 'We wanted to win the game too much'
Liverpool boss comes up with alternative reason for Wembley defeat
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has come up with an alternative reason for his side's desperate FA Cup semi-final display against Aston Villa yesterday.
Philippe Coutinho's third FA Cup goal of the season gave the Reds the lead after half an hour, but Aston Villa fought back to win the last-four encounter 2-1 through Christian Benteke, with his ninth goal in seven games, and Fabian Delph.
It was Liverpool's second semi-final disappointment of the season, having lost out to Chelsea over two legs in the Capital One Cup in January, while there have been a number of other times when the Reds have failed to rise to the occasion.
Needing to win at home to Basle to extend their Champions League campaign beyond the group stage they could only draw, while having got within a victory of the top four they recently lost back-to-back matches against Manchester United and Arsenal to see their hopes of a return to Europe's elite take a nosedive.
"Sometimes you can want to win too much. Hopefully in the future we can learn from that.
"We've come up short in a few games, it's something we need to improve.
"All these experiences will make them better. We're a team that's grown and changed quite a bit in the summer and all these experiences will hopefully help in the future."
Rodgers has a relatively young squad but he has rejected suggestions they struggle to overcome the mental barrier associated with big games and hopes they can take something useful from their defeats.
"We've come close now in two competitions but failed to make the steps," he said.
"We've reached two semi-finals, we need to have the courage now to play better in the big games because we didn't play well enough (against Villa).
"Technically we weren't quite on it. We looked like the occasion got to us a little bit.
Defeat ended the fairytale hopes of Steven Gerrard making his final appearance for the Reds in an FA Cup final on his 35th birthday before moving to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer.
But with all the pre-game focus on the Reds captain it was Delph and 19-year-old Jack Grealish who stole the show, booking Villa's first FA Cup final appearance since 2000.
"The bigger the stage the better he plays, he relishes it and that is a sign of a good talent," Villa boss Tim Sherwood said of Grealish.
"If you give him instruction he sticks to the plan. He's got a big future at the football club; he's very durable, he's a big guy, he's only a kid and he's still learning."
Delph is far more established and after committing his future to the club by extending his stay recently Sherwood is hoping he goes on to greater things after making the midfielder his captain soon after he took over from the sacked Paul Lambert in February.
"He had an opportunity to go to some of the teams in the top four and he's showed a lot of loyalty to Aston Villa and questions were asked why?" Sherwood said.
"He'll do for me, I need characters like that who are willing to put themselves on the line and show that sort of spirit for the football club.
"I've never seen him have a bad game here at Wembley. He can add goals to his game. He has so much energy he can get into the final third and score.
"He's nicked a couple of goals already and I want to encourage him to do that, and he'll be too expensive for anyone to buy."