Rodgers vows to defuse Liverpool tensions
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has acknowledged he is under pressure after a poor recent run of form ahead of Sunday’s clash with Norwich at Anfield.
Rodgers has pledged to remain calm, but the grumblings against him will only grow louder if his team fail to overcome the Canaries.
Successive league defeats against West Ham and Manchester United have done little for the manager’s standing.
But greater disquiet has been caused by the timidity of his team’s performances in both matches.
Rodgers, then, will be hopeful that his casualty list is about to shrink significantly, with Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen all close to returns from injury.
Captain Henderson is back in training after travelling to the United States for treatment on a troublesome heel problem that has kept him out of Liverpool’s last three league matches, none of which were won.
Striker Sturridge is fit again after hip surgery, while midfielder Allen is over a hamstring problem suffered in a pre-season game at Swindon in August.
“Jordan, Daniel and Joe are very important players for us,” Rodgers said.
“Daniel’s been out for a long time. He’s a player who can give us 25-plus goals a season, so we have missed him, for sure.
“Jordan’s status has grown in my time here. And Joe is the type of player who gets teams playing.”
– Focus –
Asked about the pressure on his position, Rodgers said: “That’s the nature of management. It’s important to remain calm. I always focus on what I can control.
“I can’t control what is written. I can only control the process of making sure that I get the most out of the players.”
Liverpool have scored only three goals in their opening three league games, but were given reason for optimism as a fringe side including several promising youngsters drew 1-1 at Bordeaux in the Europa League on Thursday.
“It’s about risk taking for us. That wee bit of risk has gone out of our game,” Rodgers said.
“But we’re getting key players back now, and that will help us.”
Norwich’s positive start to life back in the Premier League is reflected in their standing in the top half of the table.
Last weekend’s home victory over Bournemouth restored momentum after City had lost at Southampton, their first away defeat since Alex Neil took charge in January.
That record has bolstered belief they can get something from the trip to Anfield and Neil said: “It’s funny how football changes. When you get beaten, everybody’s a bit down but then when you win everybody picks up.
“We got a lot of confidence from the Bournemouth game and hopefully we can take that into the match on Sunday.
“I think our principles remain the same. We want to go and try to win the game and do as well as we can.
“We can’t be gung-ho or silly about how we approach the match, but we’ll approach it in the fashion that we’ll go to win the match, and we’ll see what we can do.
“We’ve got to go to Anfield believing that we can win. I think that’s the biggest bit, the players must go there and believe that they can do that.”
Canaries striker Gary Hooper is out with an ankle injury and Andre Wisdom is ineligible to face parent club Liverpool, but Steven Whittaker returns after a one-match ban.