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Brendan Rodgers dismisses tactical theory from Liverpool’s 2014 defeat to Chelsea

Brendan Rodgers has dismissed a commonly proposed theory which some fans have long felt would have won Liverpool the Premier League title in 2014.

The current Leicester boss took Liverpool to the brink of the title that season, only for the dream to be shattered in a 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea, best remembered for Steven Gerrard’s infamous and unfortunate slip.

Liverpool only needed a point from that fixture to stay top of the table with more favourable fixtures to follow in their two remaining matches.

Jose Mourinho even fielded a severely weakened team at Anfield in preparation for Chelsea’s midweek Champions League tie, but Rodgers still stuck with his fast, attacking approach.

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Many have often questioned whether Liverpool should have adopted different tactics on the day to try and play for the draw, but Rodgers says that option was simply not part of the team’s fabric.

Liverpool's title bid was dealt a killer blow when Steven Gerrard's slip gifted Chelsea a goal
Liverpool’s title bid was dealt a killer blow when Steven Gerrard’s slip gifted Chelsea a goal

“We were on an 11-game unbeaten run. We arrived into that Chelsea game in good form,” Rodgers told the Robbie Fowler podcast. “We were an aggressive, attacking team, and we continued in the vein.

“Our team was very attacking, that was our strength, we didn’t have a defensive midfielder – that was our playmaker in Steven. We were very much a front foot team.

“When you set up a team to play like Jurgen [Klopp], offensive, aggressive, look to dominate. That would be like saying to him, ‘for this one game I just want you to stay away’. It’s not going to happen.

“Your team is about pressing high, being dominant, being up there but for this one game you’re going to do everything you haven’t done in the two previous years and you’re just going to sit back and invite pressure.

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Rodgers maintains he would not have changed his approach because it wasn't Liverpool's "identity"
Rodgers maintains he would not have changed his approach because it wasn’t Liverpool’s “identity”

“For us I always felt, that team we weren’t that strong defensively, so we weren’t the kind of team who could just sit in and defend because I believe we didn’t have the personnel for that.”

Rodgers felt his side lacked the “stability” of the suspended Jordan Henderson in midfield, but played “very, very well” in the first half, until Gerrard’s error allowed Demba Ba in to score on the stroke of half-time.

Liverpool came out looking for an equaliser in the second half, but as Rodgers recalled, were overcome with the “emotion” and “became too frantic and desperate”.

Eventually Willian struck the killer blow in added time to all-but end Liverpool’s title charge, which was confirmed when they let a 3-0 lead slip to Crystal Palace days later to draw as Man City went on to be crowned champions again.

“It was just one of those things that happens,” Rodgers said. “For 70 minutes of that game it was how we’d been for the rest of the season.

“With all due respect, if I had the back four I have here (at Leicester), we’d have won the league, no question.”

Asked if he would have changed his approach in hindsight, Rodgers replied: “I’ve heard one or two people talk around that and the tactics of it and I don’t necessarily agree with it.

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“You don’t play like Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp on a Monday and then turn around and play like Diego Simeone on a Tuesday. It’s your identity.”

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