Brendan Rodgers in plea for 'more time' to deliver in style
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has appealed for time to re-establish the distinctive playing style that typified the start of his reign as his new signings adapt.
Rodgers' idealistic philosophy has been notable by its absence this season and he heads to Old Trafford today having heard Harry Redknapp brand his side "bang average" and "the worst Liverpool team in years".
The Northern Irishman is adamant that the pure, passing game he promised on his appointment in 2012 - and which he delivered when competing for the title in his second season - will return.
"People will always form opinions and Harry is someone I have huge respect for," Rodgers said. "But it's a team that has changed and will progress over the course of the season.
"I know this group of players will improve. We need to give this group a bit of time. That's something ill-afforded to you in modern football but I get great excitement when I see the players, and seeing the likes of Daniel (Sturridge) coming back.
"I think this team will show its worth over the course of the season, not just in these early games. In the season when we nearly won the league we didn't really play that brand of football until November or December time.
"It's clear how we want to work. I'm not one who chops and changes the philosophy - that's something inherent in you. The idea and the philosophy is very clear. We want to be really creative - create opportunities to score while having a strong defensive organisation.
"I'll always believe in that way. When you work with that vision, the consequence is teams that will gradually improve. What we are seeing at the moment is players coming in and adapting to it."
It was prior to Liverpool's trip to Old Trafford last season, a game that Manchester United won 3-0, that Rodgers decided to reshape his team and reconnect with his preferred, possession-based game. After reverting to three centre-halves Liverpool found form, but there have been consistent reshuffles within games since the end of last season.
"It was probably the best defeat I've ever had," Rodgers said of the last Old Trafford experience. "Of course you never want to lose a game and especially not to a rival like Manchester United.
"But I saw enough that day to know that we had got our identity back again.
We created a lot of chances and should have scored goals, but we ultimately lost because we didn't defend well enough.
"From that moment we kicked on and had a very good spell."
Despite three encouraging results at the start of the season, Liverpool have shown little resemblance to Rodgers' most attractive sides, and the demoralising home defeat by West Ham underlined how quickly the wounds of last season can reopen.
"It's very difficult taking a performance like that because you wonder where it comes from - we hadn't showed signs of that in the opening three games," Rodgers said.
"You obviously can't be positive after the game and for a day or two you don't think the garden is rosy - it was a disappointing performance.
"But once you come away and analyse it and work, you get the chance to review it and you get solutions. That's what is important.
"I feel it's going to be a league like that this year. Look at Chelsea's recent results and you know any team can beat you. Look at the home teams - only nine wins in 40 games."
Rodgers will be forced to make at least one change to his line-up at Old Trafford, with Philippe Coutinho suspended. Danny Ings is expected to make his first start.
"I have no qualms about putting him in. He scored there last season, and he's been a real bright spark since he came," Rodgers said. "He's a threat to the goal, he works hard, presses well and has that quality in front of goal."
Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Sturridge are not in the travelling squad, though Sturridge is making progress after his recovery from hip surgery.
"Daniel looked very, very sharp in training yesterday and probably the best he has looked fitness-wise for 18 months," Rodgers said.
"From experience I don't want to put any time-line on him coming back. He has worked very hard in America and our medical team has done a brilliant job." © Daily Telegraph, London)
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