Tough times ahead for Liverpool, says Rodgers
BIRMINGHAM: Brendan Rodgers admits Liverpool could face some tough times this season after his first Premier League match as Reds manager ended with a woeful 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
Rodgers had hoped for a morale-boosting victory as he looks to make an immediate impact following his appointment as successor to sacked Anfield icon Kenny Dalglish.
But the former Swansea boss endured an afternoon to forget at the Hawthorns as Albion eased to victory courtesy of a Peter Odemwingie penalty sandwiched between goals from Zoltan Gera and Romelu Lukaku.
Odemwingie’s spot kick, given by referee Phil Dowd for a challenge on Shane Long by Martin Skrtel, arrived just three minutes after one had been missed by Long after the striker was fouled Liverpool defender Daniel Agger, who was shown the red card for his professional foul.
To add insult to injury for Liverpool, Steve Clarke, sacked along with Dalglish following an 18-month spell as the Reds’ assistant manager, was able to celebrate his first match in charge of the Baggies with a win at the expense of his old club.
While Rodgers grumbled about decisions going against his side, he knows Liverpool are very much a work in progress as he tries to instill a new brand of passing football and there could be plenty more bumps in the road.
“It’s the first game. It’s a marathon,” Rodgers said. “I have to give big credit to the players, they ran to a standstill.
“Days like this hurt – and there will be other days like this. I have heard lots about patience but we have got to win games. It was a bad day at the office for us.”
However, Rodgers gave a rather blinkered view of the match when he claimed Liverpool’s fate was sealed by mistakes from the officials rather than the failings of his own team.
“I thought the scoreline was harsh. I’m not going to go on about referees but I thought the three decisions, if you include the penalty were very harsh,” Rodgers said.
“Martin Skrtel does not even connect with Shane Long (for the second). The first one Long’s pace got him there in front but there was only slight contact.
I know Shane Long well (from their Reading days) and I know how big and strong he is.
“Then with 10 men chasing the game it becomes difficult.”
Agger’s red card only incurs a one-match ban due to being a professional foul.
It means he would miss next week’s game with Manchester City, however Rodgers said it is something he will consider appealing.
Clarke admitted West Brom had enjoyed some fortune, adding: “The decisions went for us today, on another weekend they might not.”
But the former Liverpool assistant insisted he did not view the win as revenge for his sacking.
“I think I’ve been in the game long enough to know it’s not like this every week. I knew it was a good game for us to start with,” he said.
“There was more pressure on Liverpool than us and that proved to be the case.
“The manner of the departure was not an issue, that’s what happens in football these days. The win doesn’t give me any extra satisfaction.”
Gera’s goal, a stunning half-volley from the edge of the area, was his first in the Premier League in 20 months in what was his first competitive outing since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury last November.
“I’m really pleased for Zoltan,” Clarke added. “He’s had a horrendous few years with injury and is a great professional. That goal will be a nice little milestone for him.”