Rodgers demands more from squad
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes it is about time someone other than captain Steven Gerrard has to lead the team out of trouble.
The England midfielder came off the bench yesterday just before the hour with his side trailing 3-1 at Oldham and although it prompted an improved display it could not stop a shock FA Cup fourth-round exit.
Rodgers rested the 32-year-old, who has played every minute of every league game this season, along with the likes of Jamie Carragher and Stewart Downing but found their replacements wanting.
“I can’t rely on Steven for 70 games. He has been absolutely incredible,” said the Reds boss.
“He shouldn’t be expected to come and win games on his own.
“He came on and gave a real impetus to the team and his quality was there to be seen.
“Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing come on and it is a different game and for 35 minutes we were terrific but it is too late then because we are 3-1 down then.
“It wasn’t good enough.”
Rodgers criticised his younger players – only Martin Skrtel, Luis Suarez and goalkeeper Brad Jones were aged over 23 – for lacking the appetite for a fight against the npower League One side.
Latics front man Matt Smith scored either side of Suarez’s 21st goal of the season before Reece Wabara made it 3-1 just after half-time, leaving Liverpool summer signing Joe Allen’s first goal for the club little more than a consolation.
“The big guy Smith did well but it is not as if we have not played against that type before,” Rodgers added.
“I was disappointed with the young players, I’ve got to be honest.
“It is not just about playing for Liverpool, you have to be competitive and be part of a group that is going to challenge for trophies.
“It is not enough to play for Liverpool and get up for the Arsenal and Manchester City games (later this week) because if we are going to win trophies you need to be able to come to places like Oldham and win and we weren’t good enough for that.
“These games are a different type of football (to the Premier League), you have to roll your sleeves up be strong and aggressive and unfortunately for us there were too many who were.
“It is great to put young players in but you have to have personality and the young players disappointed.”
Asked whether younger players were too cocooned in a Premier League environment Rodgers replied: “They will never get comfortable, you can’t be comfortable at Liverpool and they are never allowed to be.”
Rodgers rejected suggestions his team selection, making six changes and leaving Gerrard on the bench, was an error.
“It is not complacency. We haven’t enough depth,” he added.
“We have three tough games this week and we put out a team we thought could get the result.
“This is a trophy we really put our focus on to hopefully go far in and it is a competition we are out of so we are all disappointed.”