BRENDAN RODGERS has dismissed criticism Liverpool FC have become a soft touch – but admitted his team would benefit from more experience.
Fingers were pointed at the Anfield outfit after the dismal first-half performance in their 2-1 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday.
Liverpool were accused of being overly respectful to the Premier League leaders with the game lacking the usual bite in midfield until the visitors had fallen two goals behind.
And while Rodgers does not have any problems with his team’s tenacity, he accepts the need for more stronger, seasoned personalities to aid the likes of Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom.
Asked if his players were too nice, the Liverpool manager responded: “Not really. When you play a more technical game, that will always be cast at you.
“We could easily get all the back four up to the halfway line and get Pepe (Reina) to smash it up the pitch and play fighting football and then it looks like you are aggressive and fighting.
“We have enough people who can put their foot in and press the ball and in the modern game it is very difficult to do that anyway. The tackles you used to do years ago you cannot get away with.
“We have enough physicality in the team but we need a few more players who are experienced.
“The biggest thing is experience. If you look at United’s bench on Sunday and then you look at ours, then that is the gap in our squad.
“We have to improve on that, I think we will do that but it will take a few more windows and then we will be ready to compete, for sure.”
Rodgers, who has taken Norway international Vegard Forren on trial, added: “We have got Steven Gerrard, who is one of the best examples of that in the country in the last 10 years or so.
“We have got that aggression in there. It is not about what size you are, it is about the aggression you have inside you and in the second half the ability to fight was much better.
“Aggression isn’t about having a 6ft 3ins player in the middle of the field who is going to drive you forward, aggression is in the mind.
“You could see in the second half that we were much more aggressive in our play and attitude in the game and we should have got something.”
Liverpool have now lost 10 of their last 11 visits to Old Trafford while their record against the top five – United, City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – since the start of last season has seen them win only three of 16 games.
And Stewart Downing admitted Rodgers’ men were disappointed at their failure to get among the United players during their tentative opening 45 minutes.
“We paid them too much respect in the first half,” said Downing. “We let them pass it around and we sat back.
“That was the first thing the manager said to us at half-time: he told us we had to go and get in among them. He told us we had to press them and test them.
“Even though they are good players, if you put them under pressure they can struggle. We certainly did that in the second half. That is why we were so disappointed in the dressing room.
“The encouraging things are the way we are passing and moving. That is good. But it was disappointing that we sat off them.”
Meanwhile, in-demand Molde central defender Forren will train at Melwood for the rest of the week.
The 24-year-old broke into the Norway national team this season where he partners Fulham’s Brede Hangeland.
Everton were among several other clubs to have watched the defender, who has attracted previous interest from AC Milan, Newcastle United and Bundesliga side Hoffenheim.