BRENDAN RODGERS is demanding a change of mentality from his Liverpool players as he looks to find a solution to the problems which have blighted their season.
The Reds head into tomorrow’s Premier League clash with Swansea City at Anfield looking to halt a miserable run of five games without a win in all competitions.
Thursday night’s 2-0 defeat away to Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League followed a similar theme to Monday’s league setback at home to West Brom.
On both occasions Liverpool spurned some glorious opportunities and paid the price as late lapses in concentration at the other end were ruthlessly punished.
Prior to that even the two promising performances against Arsenal and Manchester City left a bitter taste as Rodgers’ side squandered positions of control and had to settle for a share of the spoils.
It has been a familiar tale during a campaign where the Reds have been a soft touch too often and momentum has been so difficult to generate.
“I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players in Russia,” Rodgers said. “You watch the game back and see the effort, commitment and intensity – it was fantastic.
“But there are defining moments and for some reason it is happening consistently which is not allowing us to go on and win games, and we end up losing. It has probably typified our season.
“Unfortunately, it is inherent, you cannot give people character. That is the nature of the problem.
“How we defended, how we worked all along was fantastic. But if you don’t do it for the full 90 minutes you suffer.
“I think it was just before Christmas when we had the chance to win two games in a row for the first time in 12 months. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that the biggest change needed takes the longest. That is the mentality change – that is something which only happens over time.
“We were fantastic in the games against Arsenal and City but we dropped points, and then against West Brom we didn’t our chances.
“The nature of our game means we should be strong in the final 20 minutes but we are conceding in that period. Zenit was another example of that. It is frustrating but I am sure it is the same for the players. There are not many teams working harder than this one.”
When the same mistakes are repeatedly made then questions have to be asked about the quality of the players Rodgers is putting his faith in.
However, the manager denies suggestions that wholesale changes to his squad will be required in the summer in order to transform the club’s fortunes.
“I don’t think massive surgery is needed,” he said. “Daniel Sturridge came in and you saw the difference it made to the team. Maybe if we had a few more of his capacity in the group that could set us up.
“Listen, I will never give up on this group, but in order for us to be up there consistently we need to improve in terms of our mentality.
“Technically, we have shown we are very capable, tactically we have not been found wanting like in the games against Arsenal and Man City.
“The condition and intensity of their work is high so that only leaves you one thing – mentality. That is the area which needs to improve and to do that we need character.”
Mental resilience is undoubtedly linked to experience and that’s difficult to acquire when the club has a transfer policy which targets players aged 23 and under.
However, with Rodgers set to lose vice-captain Jamie Carragher at the end of the season, the manager will inform owners Fenway Sports Group that he can’t keep buying potential rather than proven class.
He said: “The biggest thing we need this summer is to bring in some men, some character that allows and supports the other men to see the games out.
“Look at Jamie Carragher, he is our best defender, he is 35 but we are losing that character. That has to be replaced. I also think there are other areas of the team that need improving.
“That is something we will talk about at the end of the season when we identify where the improvements have to be made.
“Personally I just want the best team. I always like to give young players hope but in order to do that they need that bit of experience alongside them.”
Rodgers’ pressing concern is to get the victory Liverpool require tomorrow to climb back up to seventh.
Defeat to the Baggies on Monday left them 12 points adrift of fourth-placed Spurs with a dozen games to go.
“I won’t say the top four has gone but it’s going to be very difficult,” he added.
“You only need to look at it – we have not been consistent enough but we will look to put that right.
“This is a football club where you have to fight in every game. We still have a lot of big matches to play.”