Brendan Rodgers spends extra time getting Liverpool’s balance just right

first_img “In different games we will set up slightly differently, like we did at Arsenal, where the plan was to dominate the space in the game. “It doesn’t compromise the style at all. I am happy with the evolution of the team this early but there is a lot more to come from it and it bodes well for this season.” Rodgers has been boosted by the return to training this week of striker Daniel Sturridge, who has spent most of the last four months in the United States recovering from a hip operation. The aim is to have him back in the squad by early September but Rodgers would not put a specific timeframe on the injury-plagued England international’s return. “There is no timeline on Daniel,” said the Reds boss, who also confirmed last summer’s £20million signing Lazar Markovic still has a future at the club despite him set to sign on loan for Fenerbahce. “He has obviously been away working in America and has come back and now it is just about him working hard to get back in to somewhere near the level of the group. “He looks well and really excited to be back among his team-mates, so we will just have to take that week on week.” “We’ve put in extra work and focus on that,” he said. “We are doing extra sessions on every aspect of our defending in terms of in-game static and moving positions and our set-pieces. “We are putting in an awful lot of work into that organisation, it is one of the things I picked up on from last season. “We brought in a lot of players thinking they could maybe settle into it quickly but the learning aspect from that was that I needed to do more on that (defensive) front this season. “That is something we have done. The coaches have been outstanding just making sure the players are clear in terms of their roles and responsibility both with and without the ball.” They may have only scored two goals so far but Rodgers said it was still early in the season and he was confident a stronger defensive set-up would not affect his preference for free-flowing, exciting football. “If you look at how I have always worked the pressing element and defensive organisation is crucial to that,” added the Liverpool manager, ahead of the visit of West Ham. “People always associated with the football and fluency but that does not come unless you have possession of the ball. Some shaky displays at the back in the previous campaign – which culminated with them conceding three at home to Crystal Palace and six at Stoke – had prompted calls in some quarters for a specialist defensive coach to be brought in. Rodgers was adamant that was not the solution but over the summer he has been more specific on the work he has done to tighten up his defence and has been rewarded with three successive clean sheets which have brought seven points. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he has paid more attention to defensive matters this season but insists it will not compromise the team’s attacking fluency. Press Associationlast_img read more

Langer offers advice to returning Warner, Smith

first_imgMELBOURNE, Australia (Reuters) – The return of Steve Smith and David Warner to the Australia squad has generated excitement, not tension, among the playing group but the pair will need to learn “humility” after losing their leadership roles, coach Justin Langer said yesterday. Former captain Smith and Warner were selected in Australia’s World Cup squad last month after their ball-tampering bans expired but they will play under skipper Aaron Finch and a new leadership group.The duo, whose reintegration was smoothed with a visit to the squad in Dubai last month, returned to training with their team mates in Brisbane yesterday.“There’s no tension, honestly. We’re so excited to have the boys back, we’re just so excited about playing cricket,” Langer told reporters at Allan Border Field.“It’s been a big buildup to it. It’s a bit like facing fast bowling, isn’t it? You worry about it until you get out there and it’s not as bad as you thought it was.“It’s the same with the boys coming back in.”Smith has been banned from leadership posts until March 2020 while former vice-captain Warner, who took the most blame for the Cape Town scandal, has been permanently blacklisted.Langer said Smith and Warner’s experience made them natural authority figures and that their leadership would be “crucial” for success on and off the field.However, they would face a challenge adjusting to their diminished standing, he added.“We’ll draw on their experience on and off the field and we would be absolutely crazy not to,” he said.“There are certainly going to be challenges for both of them, though.“When you’ve come from a titled position of captain, there’s going to be a certain degree of humility that comes with that. “But one of our really strong values is humility so it will be a great opportunity for them to develop that.” FORM AND CONFIDENCEAfter two mostly dismal years in one-day cricket, Australia head into their World Cup defence with form and confidence after upsetting India 3-2 in an away series and whitewashing Pakistan 5-0 in the United Arab Emirates.Langer was cagey about where Smith and Warner might line up in a batting order that is now spoiled for choice, thanks to the solid form of Usman Khawaja in India and the UAE.He said pace spearhead Mitchell Starc, who was awarded the 2015 Player-of-the-World Cup, was in “pristine” condition as he works his way back from a pectoral muscle injury.However, paceman Jhye Richardson was under a bit more of a cloud as the bowler races to recover from a dislocation of his right bowling shoulder.Langer said he expected England crowds to get stuck into Smith and Warner and the whole Australia team over the ball-tampering affair, but they were “big boys” who could handle it. He said he would personally steer clear of riling the ‘Barmy Army’, having been mocked in a song about his height by the travelling English fan group in the past.Langer had called the Army a “disgrace” and their fans “about 50 kilos overweight” after they repeatedly called “no-ball” following deliveries by Australia’s express pace bowler Brett Lee during the 2002 Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.“Well, then they start singing the song about the seven dwarfs,” he said. “So you don’t mess with the Barmy Army … Their songs are humiliating.”last_img read more