Aug 19, 2014

    No Suarez? No problem, says Rodgers


    LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers said he was encouraged by the manner in which his side have responded to life without Luis Suarez, following their 2-1 win over Southampton.

    Uruguay striker Suarez departed Liverpool for Barcelona during the close season, and there were question marks over how the Reds would cope in his absence.

    Liverpool were far from their best against Southampton in their opening Premier League game of the season at Anfield on Sunday.

    But victory was still secured, courtesy of Daniel Sturridge's winner 11 minutes from time, after Nathaniel Clyne cancelled out Raheem Sterling's first-half strike.

    "Our ambitions here at Liverpool have to be bigger than one player," Rodgers said.

    "Luis sent us a lovely text (message) this morning wishing us all the best, which was a great gesture. He is a friend now of Liverpool. He's a great boy, but he is gone now. We are bigger than any player. We do still want another striker, but that will depend on the availability. It was all about winning against Southampton and we got there.

    "As much as the good football we play, it was about grinding it out, so I am really happy with that determination and character.

    "It was very hard-fought. Just because Southampton have lost players, it's not going to be a walkover.

    "The players are still searching for their fitness, they are still getting their condition and getting themselves back into it. We weren't as fluent, but it was about the win."

    Despite a second-placed finish last season, Liverpool are not widely expected to be among the sides to challenge for the title in this campaign, with Chelsea and Manchester City considered more likely winners.

    But Rodgers said that his squad would thrive on being written off.

    "We believe in the way we work," he said. "I don't think anyone is giving us any hope of getting in the top four, but that was the (expectation) last season as well.

    "We love the challenge. We go into that, look to recreate that, by winning games and performing.

    "We are bringing in young players who are ready to go in the team, but there is still a lot of improvement."