Rodgers praises battling Reds
New manager plays down injury concerns to Cole and Johnson
Last Updated: August 2, 2012 10:49pm
Brendan Rodgers: Pleased with Liverpool's fighting display against Gomel
Brendan Rodgers applauded the commitment of his Liverpool players after seeing his first competitive match at the helm end in a 1-0 victory over Gomel.
The Reds now have an excellent chance of making it through to the next round of the Europa League after Stewart Downing's strike proved the difference between the sides in the first leg in Belarus.
Rodgers recognises that any changes he wants to make to the team's style of play will have to happen gradually, and the main positives he took from Thursday's game revolved around their battling qualities.
"It will take time until Liverpool start playing the way Swansea did last season (tactically)," he said.
"Actually the way you play depends on the players you have.
"As for today I saw two things which were very important for me, I saw desire and commitment. I am very grateful to my players for a good game.
"Obviously it was a serious test of the players' fitness and I am really happy with the result.
"This was my first competitive game in charge of Liverpool and for me it didn't really matter whether the game was played in Belarus or Brazil as I am really honoured to manage this side."
Rodgers' first match in charge did not go all Liverpool's way, with the hosts dominating for long periods before ultimately being made to pay for a series of missed chances.
Rodgers continued: "This game was a great test for us at this point of the season. Today we saw that Gomel is a very good club which is already into the season.
"Their tactical idea was to defend and counter-attack so it was difficult for us to find the open spaces in the first half but at half-time I told my players to be patient and that the chances would come.
"After the first 45 minutes I also changed the structure of the midfield and Steven Gerrard started to play a bit lower than the other two central midfielders.
"I am glad that Stewart scored the goal as we put him on that side to come in and shoot. It was a great shot."
On the other flank, Joe Cole, who spent last season on loan at Lille, lasted just 23 minutes before picking what looked like a hamstring injury.
Glen Johnson was also replaced a minute into the second half, but Rodgers was quick to downplay any injury fears.
"The substitution of Glen was planned and as for Joe the injury is not serious and more of a precaution," the 39-year-old added.