Stewart Downing believes Liverpool will find the aggression that was sorely lacking in Sunday's defeat against Manchester United once Brendan Rodgers has had time to construct his own squad at Anfield.
Liverpool were punished for a passive start at Old Trafford where, despite the manager's intention to take the game to the league leaders, they offered little resistance until two goals down. Downing admits the team had to be reminded to "get in amongst" United by Rodgers at half-time and showed that Sir Alex Ferguson's team suffer under pressure with a vastly improved second-half display. But with Lucas Leiva only recently returned from two extensive injury lay-offs and players adapting to Rodgers' system, the England international believes the Liverpool manager needs time and new faces to develop the team's physical approach.
Downing said: "The way the manager has got us playing, it will take time to bed in. There will be changes in and out and until he gets his own team, then you will see that [more aggression]. The encouraging things are the way we are passing and moving, that is good, but it was disappointing that we sat off United.
"We paid them too much respect in the first half. We let them pass it around and we sat back. That was the first thing the manager said to us at half-time: he told us we had to go and get in amongst them. He told us we had to press them and test them. Even though they are good players, if you put them under pressure they can struggle. We certainly did that in the second half. That is why we were so disappointed in the dressing room. We had chances to get at least a draw out of the game."
Rodgers, however, claims Liverpool already have sufficient aggression within the ranks. He countered: "Aggression isn't about having a 6ft 3in player in the middle of the field who is going to drive you forward, aggression is in the mind. We have Steven Gerrard, who is one of the best examples of that in this country over the last 10 years. We have that aggression but it is not about what size you are, it is about the fight which is in there."
The 2-1 defeat left Liverpool 24 points behind United and despite Rodgers' assertion that his team are not 24 points inferior in terms of quality, Downing admits the table highlights the gulf in consistency between the two clubs.
He added: "If the league says it is 24 points then yes [it is an accurate reflection]. I just think it is about consistency. When Manchester United don't play well, they will win. They struggled in the second half yet they won the game. That is what we can learn – being hard to beat when we are not at our best. When we do play well, we murder teams. But when we don't play well, we don't exactly get results. We need to learn from that."
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