LIVERPOOL winger Stewart Downing insists Liverpool can press their way into the Premier League’s elite bunch, by adding a nasty streak to their patient passing style.
The Reds were punished for sitting off Manchester United in a one-sided first half at Old Trafford on Sunday.
But when the visitors starting pressing and harrying the home side they took the game to the league leaders and were unfortunate in the end not to come away with a point.
“The first thing the manager said at half-time was that we’ve got to get in amongst them, press them and test them,” explained Downing. “They’ve got good players but if you put them under pressure they can struggle. That was certainly the case in the second half.”
Downing, starting his ninth consecutive game under Rodgers after being warned earlier in the season that he needed to prove his worth at Anfield, accepts that Liverpool is a work in progress.
And he hopes the supporters will continue to be patient as the ideas are implemented and the squad rebuilt.
“It will take time and there will be changes in and out until the manager gets his own team the way he wants it,” added Downing.
“I think the encouraging thing is that the way he wants us to pass and move, and you saw that in the second half at Old Trafford when we got in amongst them.
“When you look at the league table, if you get a few good results you can jump up quickly. It was big opportunity and we didn’t take it. But Old Trafford is a tough place to play and not many teams will come here and win.
“The pleasing thing is that we have given them two helluva games this season. We’ve lost them both but to be honest we should have got at least two draws out of them. Now we have to keep playing like we did in the second half.”
The search for consistency will be the biggest challenge for the Reds, conceded Downing. “For us it’s a case of consistency,” he added.
“Man United have a habit of still winning even when they don’t play well like on Sunday. In the second half they struggled but still won the game. That’s something we can learn from. We need to be hard to beat when we’re not at our best. When we do play well we hammer teams but when we don’t play well we don’t seem to get results.
“There is no point coming off saying we played really well but didn’t pick up any points. The big thing we’ve got to take from the game is that we’ve got to start matches like the way we played in the second half.
“You can’t give United too much respect because they have got players who can hurt you. Once Van Persie put them ahead it was difficult for us. But if we had started the game like we played in the second half we would have got a result.”