Brendan Rodgers shoulders burden

Brendan Rodgers insists he is more than happy to accept Liverpool being the favourites heading into the Merseyside derby.

His Everton counterpart Roberto Martinez tried to turn up the heat on Rodgers by claiming the amount of money he has spent — this summer’s £80m (€108m) outlay was four times what the Toffees spent — means there is far more expectation on the visitors to Goodison Park tomorrow despite their recent form not suggesting as much.

Rodgers dismissed the mind games but accepts his side do have to shoulder that burden.

“We will always take the favourite tag. When you are at Liverpool that is what you want,” he said.

“We are happy if people want to put that onto us — we are Liverpool. There is no advantage or disadvantage for us.

“If we are the favourites it shows we are a big club and people look to us as the team who want to have that initiative.

“We are definitely a team where every game we go into the level of opponents’ games goes up and that is because of the nature of the club we are.

“It shows you the level of expectancy here as opposed to another club. We are happy to live with that.”

After edging past Aston Villa last weekend and being held to a 1-1 Europa League draw by mediocre Swiss side Sion — a result which was booed by supporters — the scrutiny on Rodgers remains.

However, having railed against “people outside the club” with an agenda against him last Saturday the Reds boss remains defiant in his belief that things will come good.

That will not deflect attention away from his future should things go awry across Stanley Park tomorrow.

Asked if he felt any additional pressure, Rodgers added: “No — and they (the players) don’t feel it either, they are fine.

“There is no more or less pressure. The pressure is to perform in the game and that is pressure from within, nowhere else.

“I’ve always been clear as the manager, you will always have critics and of course if you are not winning games convincingly sometimes those critics can increase.

“I respect and understand that (booing) — they all want to win as much as we want to win and there was probably a bit of frustration.

“That is something you have to take on the chin as a coach and as players.

“But I also know there is a great level of support out there.

“It is about perspective; there is a lot of focus on these players who I think are dealing with it very well.

“Perspective keeps us calms and hopefully allows us to progress.”

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, he said: “(Everton) are a point ahead of us and have had a good start and we’ve had a disaster!

“We are only a couple of points from where we want to be in the top four.

“It is not something I am worried about. I will always work with the players and the situation I am in.

“It is still very early on in the season and we are making progress as we go along and we have some outstanding players to come back into the reckoning. When we get those back we know we have a squad to challenge.”

Everton boss Martinez is happy to let Liverpool take the role of favourites.

Martinez said: ”If you take the way we have started, we are showing a little bit of form and that could see us as favourites.

“But if you look at it in terms of the amount of money Liverpool spent over the last three seasons, clearly they need to be the favourites and the ones carrying expectations.”

Martinez will make a late decision on whether key defenders John Stones and Seamus Coleman are fit enough to feature.

Stones sat out Monday’s win at West Brom due to a knee problem, while Coleman has missed three games because of a hamstring complaint.


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