3 August 2012 03:54
Brendan Rodgers says he is honoured to be managing Liverpool after guiding the team to victory over FC Gomel in his first competitive match.
Liverpool downed their Belarusian opponents 1-0 away from home on Thursday night in a Europa League qualifier and Rodgers was delighted with their players as they balanced a competitive fixture with pre-season preparations.
“I’m pleased and it was an excellent test for us,” he told reporters.
“Gomel are well into their season so for us it was a great game for our fitness, but it was also competitive.
“It was really special for me as it was the first competitive game. It wouldn’t have mattered where the game was, whether it was in Belarus or Brazil, it’s an honour for me to manage the club and I’m very proud to lead the players and be their manager.
“Hopefully this can be the start of many more wins and positive games for us.”
Liverpool were tested at times by unfancied Gomel, and needed Stewart Downing’s long-range goal, just his third for the club since joining last year, to seal the victory.
“It was difficult and Gomel’s tactical idea for the game was to sit back, close the spaces and play on the counter attack,” Rodgers said.
“You have to be patient. My message to the players at half-time was continue to be patient and the spaces will start to open up as Gomel tire.
“I was delighted for Stewart Downing. It was a wonderful strike and that’s why we put him on that side, so he could come in and shoot.”
Joe Cole was substituted during the first half of the match and Glen Johnson departed at the interval, but Rodgers was not worried by the withdrawals, revealing Johnson had been due to only play 45 minutes.
“Glen was only scheduled to play 45 minutes anyway so he was taken off as planned,” he said.
“Joe just felt his hamstring a little bit. I don’t think it is totally pulled and it was just a little bit of tightness so we had to take him off. It disrupted our plans a little bit but it was better to have him come off rather than risk injury.”