LIVERPOOL, Gerrard: "We'll be big and bold"
27.07.2012 16.00 by TM W
© foto di imago sportfotodienst
Steven Gerrard expects a bolder approach from Liverpool this season and is confident that a return to Champions League football can be secured.
The midfielder has only had a short amount of time to see Brendan Rodgers' methods at close quarters, but the 32-year-old is already anticipating a new-look Reds when the 2012-13 action begins.
"I think we'll definitely see a much bolder Liverpool team this season and more exciting too," Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo from the Reds' training camp in Boston. "But with a quick transition to ensure we're organised when we lose the ball."
Having been part of the first-team squad at Anfield since 1998, the captain is well-placed to assess where the Reds have fallen short in previous campaigns and how that can change under Rodgers.
He continued: "I think over the years, sometimes Liverpool have come up against certain types of opposition and we have shown them too much respect. But maybe we have had to because of the style we've been asked to play.
"There were times under previous managers when we did that, but I think this manager is the opposite, he wants us to play like a big team.
"There's a lot of hard work and a lot of learning to be done sharpish if we want to implement that straight away. In only my second training session here we were doing team shape and Brendan was telling players what he expects them to do movement wise, how he wants the team to do the transition when we lose the ball to win it back."
An eighth-placed finish in the Barclays Premier League last season was deemed well below standard by Gerrard, who stressed his belief that the Reds can reclaim a place in the Champions League next year.
"I don't think a team has ever gone from eighth to first in one season but there are still other big targets for us to achieve - getting back into the top four is certainly the priority," added the No.8.
"I think we will get in the top four. I am confident we will get it. If we can play like we did in a lot of games last season, be clinical and take our chances, I think we will be high up in the table.
"The idea is to improve and have some fun along the way in the cup competitions like we did last year. It was difficult to make sense of it at times. There were times you would come off thinking 'no wonder we are sixth, seventh or eighth in the league' as we hadn't played well enough.
"But there were times when we murdered teams. We hadn't come off with what we deserved. It was frustrating but if you look at the season as a whole, you can't make excuses for finishing eighth. It wasn't good enough.
"We are Liverpool, we can't finish eighth. We have got to take the criticism for under-performing last year and put it right. We can't be doing post-match interviews saying 'we should have got the points or we were not clinical enough'. We have got to be clinical. We have got to get the points we should get."
Warming to his theme, Gerrard urged his teammates to use the frustration of the Reds' league form last season as a motivation to improve, with hard work the key.
"The players have got to think how I think and use the hurt of what happened to make up for last year. That is the only way you can do it," the skipper explained.
"I can't speak for anyone else but if they ask for my opinion I would tell them to be patient. Obviously I am biased but I think playing Champions League football for this club would be more special than anywhere else. If we work hard enough and perform well enough it will come."
Handed an extended rest following his exertions as England captain at Euro 2012, Gerrard joined the club's tour of North America and Canada late, but he has already been impressed by Rodgers' work.
He concluded: "The manager has been in touch with me from since he came in. I've had a lot of banter with text messages and quite a few calls throughout the Euros. He has made me aware of where he's at and what he's trying to do.
"Every time you speak to him you can't help but be impressed. He gives you a lift. His man-management skills are fantastic and if he can do that with all the players around the squad then it can be really good for the club.
"I've only seen him on the training ground for a few days, but as a guy how he's dealt with me on a personal level has been exceptional. I know the players who have worked with him over the past few weeks have been impressed."
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