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Rodgers: Evolved Playing Style Brings "Flexibility"

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On the surface it looks like Liverpool have evolved into a counter-attacking team, but Brendan Rodgers does not want you to be fooled by this illusion.

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Michael Regan

Much of Brendan Rodgers' first season was spent drilling an attractive, possession-based football philosophy into all levels of the club, from the senior men's team all the way down to the U11s. With everyone playing the same game, the logic went, it would be easier for Academy graduates already familiar with the style of the club to break into the first team.

It's far too early to tell what the dividends on such a project are, but towards the end of last season many felt that Brendan Rodgers had abandoned the style of play he'd been so enthusiastic about the year before. Liverpool frequently looked very much like a counter-attacking team, but Rodgers insists it's all a figment of your imagination.

"The style has evolved from the first day I came in, and it's continuing," he said in an interview with Liverpoolfc.com. "We can make passes; if we sit deep, we can play on the counter-attack; we can sit on a low block or we can press high. There's a real flexibility now and it's a huge credit to the players that we can now flip from formation to formation. The style doesn't change, but the system does."

"What has been interesting is people talking about me moving away from some of the principles and ideas that I've always worked with. It couldn't be further from the truth. What we have shown is that we are now better equipped; we can have a variety in our game. Our idea is always to dominate the ball, to control the game. Sometimes you can control the game without the ball. People maybe look at our possession stats… I look at dangerous possession - that's what I focus on."

Dangerous possession could prove to be next year's trendy metric by which to measure success on the pitch, and Rodgers remains unconcerned by the drop off in possession once Liverpool are in the lead after 60 minutes. In what will come as no shock to anyone who watched his club this season, Rodgers is much more interested in goals than possession.

"We're much quicker with our passing, the speed of our game is better and obviously we've got quality at the top end of the field," he explained. "Players are now flooding forward looking to score goals, as opposed to the idea of just keeping the ball - because that's no good on its own."

You're not wrong, Brenno. Suffocating your opponent with all the possession in the world isn't going to do you a lick of good if you don't put the ball in the back of their net, and if you're going to do that once, why not do it three or four or five times instead? As Rodgers' management mentor Yves Saint Laurent once famously said, "Fashion fades, style is forever."