Rodgers: Defence not good enough
1:18pm Tuesday 6th May 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Brendan Rodgers believes his Liverpool side must improve defensively if they are to remain a force at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
The Reds let a three-goal lead slip at Crystal Palace on Monday night and could only leave south London with a draw as they handed the momentum in the title race over to Manchester City.
Goals from Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez took Liverpool's league tally to just one shy of 100 for the season but their defensive inefficiencies were once again laid bare as Damien Delaney pulled one back before a Dwight Gayle brace earned a memorable draw for Palace.
The result left double player of the year Suarez in floods of tears at the full-time whistle as his contribution of 31 league goals look increasingly likely to be part of a title tilt that falls just short.
Rodgers will now be relying on favours from Aston Villa and West Ham, City's final two opponents, and the Northern Irishman knows where he needs to make changes in the summer to come back and fight for silverware next year.
"It (the defence) is an area that we know we need to be better at," he told Liverpool's official website.
"We've improved a lot in many aspects of our game and that will be an area I'm sure we'll look at - and nobody more so than myself.
"That's 99 goals we've scored this season, so to come here and be 3-0 up and concede three goals, as a coach, that's what you have to look at.
"The players gave everything, as they do. But we just didn't defend well enough...If you defend like that, you're going to concede goals and that was the disappointment.
"We got the three goals and we could have had more, but it's not good enough, the management of the game in those 12 minutes. And that's something going forward that we will need to look at, because you can't do it."
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was critical of the defensive efforts at Selhurst Park in his role as a television pundit.
While Rodgers would not been drawn on the topic after the game, Carragher's former team-mate Glen Johnson took to Twitter to lambast such remarks.
"Absolutely clueless..." he wrote in the aftermath of the game.
"So many sofa experts in this game....Absolutely no idea about football whatsoever! #Jokers."
Palace defender Scott Dann, a boyhood Liverpool supporter, believes Suarez can look at the Eagles' comeback as inspiration to keep on pushing for the title.
"When the game changes like that and they are still fighting for the title, he probably thinks it is all over now," said Dann.
"We proved last night that it is not over until it is over and I am sure they will keep going until the end. All the lads in their dressing room will be really disappointed.
"It (the reaction at full-time) shows how much he wants to win. He is that type of player and you have seen that over the past couple of years. To lose a three-goal lead and probably the title is a big thing. He is obviously disappointed.
"I am a big Liverpool fan and I would have liked them to win the title. When it comes down to it, I am Palace player and I want to win. That was no different in this game."
The draw means Palace are guaranteed to finish at least as high as 11th in the table, having been rooted in the bottom three when Tony Pulis replaced Ian Holloway at the helm in November.
The former Stoke boss has been backed to collect the manager of the year accolade and Joe Ledley, Dann's fellow January transfer window arrival, is the latest to praise Pulis' approach.
"Since he took over he has been remarkable," he said.
"Not just against teams in the bottom half but also against the big teams. He is a brilliant manager. I have had a couple of opportunities to work with him before but I think I have made the right decision now.
"It was very difficult to leave Celtic but I have loved every minute. Having a good manager makes everything a lot easier."