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'Nobody expects us to get into the top four' -- Brendan Rodgers aiming to prove doubters wrong

The season’s first siege mentality is here.
Aug 18th 2014, 8:46 AM 5,411 29

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.

Liverpool were far from their best against the Saints in their opening Premier League game of the season at Anfield, but victory was secured courtesy of Daniel Sturridge’s winner 11 minutes from time after Nathaniel Clyne had 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.”

Sterling put Liverpool ahead with a composed finish from Jordan Henderson’s sublime through-ball, but Clyne fired in Southampton’s equaliser following a clever flick from debutant Dusan Tadic.

However, Liverpool secured maximum points when Southampton failed to clear a cross, allowing Sterling to head the ball into the path of Sturridge, who diverted it past Fraser Forster.

Written off?

Despite a second-placed finish last season, Liverpool are not among the sides widely expected 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 expectancy 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.”

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Britain Soccer Premier League Source: AP/Press Association Images

Southampton’s new manager Ronald Koeman has had to contend with the departures of five key players during the close season.

But the Dutchman, who replaced Mauricio Pochettino at St Mary’s after the Argentine left for Tottenham Hotspur, claimed Southampton showed at Anfield that they are still a competitive side.

“It is between the white lines of the pitch to show the people and first to show ourselves that we have to believe in our quality,” he said.

“That was one of the messages we gave the boys. We played an impressive second half and that is how we like to play. If we play like that, I don’t think we will struggle.”

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