The Reds boss is in no doubt that his side are still the “top club” in the city, before labelling Jordan Henderson a “bargain” and lavishing praise upon Stewart Downing
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has denied any notions of a power shift on Merseyside ahead of their Premier League clash with Everton on Sunday.
The Toffees sit a place above their neighbours ahead of the derby with five points separating the two sides, and a defeat would ensure that David Moyes’ men finish higher than the Reds for the second consecutive season.
Rodgers, however, is adamant that Liverpool are still the “top club” on Merseyside, while he also admitted that this season has served as a base for next term, where he expects his team to challenge at the top of the table.
“I don’t believe there is a power shift on Merseyside. This is a club which traditionally has been the top side. It is still the top club here,” he told The Daily Mirror.
“Everton finished above us last year and have had a good season this year. We obviously want to improve next year. I believe we are in the process of doing that. This was the year for building the base. Then next year we have to really push on and find that consistency.
“We have become better and better this season and hopefully the group will have started next season in a positive way. With reinforcements in the summer, that will give us the depth to maintain the standard. If we do that, we’ll be up there challenging, I have no doubt about that.”
Rodgers also praised two players that have come under heavy criticism during their Liverpool careers; describing Jordan Henderson a “bargain” and comparing Stewart Downing to Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.
“Jordan Henderson has been outstanding. There’s no doubt that in the next two or three years his fee of £16 million will prove a bargain. He has good style and stature. Mentally he’s tough and he has good technique – just look at his goals and some of his finishing,” he continued.
“Look at Stewart Downing’s work ethic, up and down the line, and his creation of chances. He knows he needs to score more goals, but he’s working, pressing and running. People looked to Ribery and Robben during the week, and with all due respect Stewart is putting in a shift for our team.”