Brendan Rodgers acknowledged his disappointment at being unable to turn possession into goals as Liverpool was held to a 0-0 draw by Stoke City at Anfield –- but praised the character and mentality of his players throughout a hard-fought contest.
The Reds carved out several opportunities to break the deadlock on a tough afternoon, but were unable to do so as the visitors held out for a point.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t win the game,” Rodgers reflected in his post-match press conference. “The attitude and application of the players was terrific and we stood up to the real physicality of the game, which was a big plus.
“If you can play against Stoke physically, especially with so many young players in the team and technicians, then you know you’re going to be alright in your other games.
“I thought as the game wore on we got into good spaces and moments in good areas of the field, but just our final touch or decision at the end of it didn’t quite allow us to score.
“We’re disappointed not to win, but there were a lot of real positives from the game — and it was our first [league] clean sheet of the season, which was important.”
He added: “I was particularly pleased with how we kept going. We kept getting on the ball and getting between people. We were throwing bodies into the box, but we couldn’t quite get that final touch to get the goal.”
Stoke collected six bookings at Anfield, but Rodgers had no complaints about their approach to the game.
Asked by journalists if he felt the Potters had been overly-physical, the manager replied: “They’re a bunch of big men who make it difficult for you. There is no right or wrong way to play football. We choose to play a totally different type of game.
“I was proud our young players stood up to that and the senior players took responsibility and we coped while still trying to play our game.”
The Reds continued to toil right up until the 94th minute in search of a winning goal that would have secured a first home league win of 2012-13.
They were spurred on by the home fans, who urged the players forward until the final kick of the afternoon — and Rodgers was eager to highlight their contribution.
“The bottom line is, it was a terrific performance and brilliant to see the young players cope in that type of environment, he said. “It bodes well for us going forward.
“As I said, some of our play was terrific, but we just failed to make the final pass and made the wrong decisions at the end.
“But I can’t have any complaints. The players gave the club everything today. We’ve got big appreciation as well for the supporters.
“This is a club that has only won two Premier League games at Anfield this calendar year and it’s been nearly a year since the club has won consecutive Premier League games.
“So to still get the support and backing of the supporters with that type of record, there are not many clubs who’d get that. You felt today, they were right with the team right until the very end.
“I was very proud of the team and the supporters today.”
Asked by reporters what the key was to turning Liverpool’s home fortunes around, Rodgers replied: “It’s just time, unfortunately.
“I think there is a real bright future here. It is more or less the same players I inherited and I’ve brought in one or two who have done really well. It’s just going to take that wee bit of time.
“What is fantastic for me and incredible going forward is the real positive reaction from the crowd.
“They’re showing they are really behind what we’re trying to do. Other clubs wouldn’t get that support.
“The only way is by working hard and getting results on the field. The supporters are absolutely incredible.”
Rodgers introduced Oussama Assaidi and Joe Cole into the action as Liverpool chased a winner.
The Reds continued to build attacks with their trademark short passing style, and the boss said: “I’m not one who goes down the desperation route, if I’m being honest. In my career, I’ve won a number of games, especially against big teams, by continuing to play and waiting for those moments at the end of the game.
“I don’t really do the desperation one where it becomes a war in the last 10 minutes of the game by taking it longer.
“We work with what we’ve got, look to find different ways and solutions to score, and then when January comes we’ll see if we can re-visit that.”
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com