Lay off Gerrard
Rodgers refuses to blame skipper for slip against Chelsea, confirms Gerrard will be offered new deal till 2016
CRYSTAL PALACE v LIVERPOOL
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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes there has been too much focus on Steven Gerrard's slip in last week's defeat by Chelsea and says the captain should in no way be held accountable.
The Reds lost 2-0 at home to the Blues in a match where the opponents blunted any attacking threat with a blanket defence and capitalised on a mistake by the Pool captain to score the crucial opening goal.
Gerrard's slip just inside his own half, presenting Demba Ba with a clear run on goal, has been the subject of much analysis and numerous jokes and comment on social media and beyond, but Rodgers attaches no blame to the England international.
"Stevie was like us all - we all hurt," he said when asked whether he had needed to lift his captain's spirits this week.
"Obviously it was a big game. Steven played really well but he was just unfortunate to make the slip and Demba Ba went through and finished really well.
"Steven is a guy who has picked himself up over many years after disappointments and he will do it again.
"He's a really good man. I think it's been a bit over-analysed as well - the guy slipped, which can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, it led to the goal and that was a big factor in the game.
"However, it happens and we move on."
Rodgers confirmed that Liverpool will offer captain Gerrard a new contract at the end of the season to keep him at Anfield until at least 2016.
The 33-year-old midfielder, whose current contract expires at the end of next season, has played a major role in the club's drive towards a first English League title since 1990.
"Steven will be one we look to get a contract to in the summer," Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo.
"With a year to go, it's something we will address. I believe Steven will play beyond 2015. He is a player who has really shown his qualities this season.
"Come the summer, he will still be only 34. Looking towards the future, I still think he's going to be a key part of our squad."
Liverpool have been Gerrard's only professional club and, for most of his 16-season career, he has been their best player with his ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck with a surging run into the box or a thunderbolt strike from range.
This season, however, Rodgers has used him in a deeper role, allowing him to dictate play from in front of the defence and help unleash Liverpool's pacey and potent strikeforce.
"He has dropped into a new position and played it seamlessly. His intelligence in the game is second to none. He is improving all the time," Rodgers added.
"It's one where he has been brilliant for me as a captain and as a player this season and I would like that to continue.
"Most clubs, especially bigger clubs, recognise now that once a player gets over a certain age, you have to look at a contract's duration.
"But, for me, Steven still has so much to offer and I really want him beside me here working on the field."
Last weekend's defeat took the title destiny out of Liverpool's hands and made Manchester City favourites as they are only three points behind before this morning's (Singapore time) match against Everton and a superior goal difference.
Rodgers, however, is focused on the away game against Crystal Palace on Tuesday morning, and hopes that England striker Daniel Sturridge will be fit to play, despite not having started a game since the home win over City three weeks ago.
"He's worked tirelessly this week with the medical team, and we'll see how he is come Monday," said Rodgers. - Wire Services.
I think it’s been a bit overanalysed as well — the guy slipped, which can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, it led to the goal and that was a big factor in the game. However, it happens and we move on.
— Brendan Rodgers asking critics to get off Steven Gerrard’s back for his slip against Chelsea which led to Demba Ba’s opening goal