London – Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool's dramatic 3-2 win at Fulham demonstrated once again that they are capable of thriving even when star striker Luis Suarez doesn't get on the scoresheet.
Rodgers' side came from behind twice to secure a crucial victory at Craven Cottage on Wednesday which put the fourth-placed Reds within four points of Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Free-scoring Liverpool have netted 13 goals in their last four domestic fixtures, but 23-goal striker Suarez has hit the back of the net just once in that time.
And Reds boss Rodgers, who was in buoyant mood after captain Steven Gerrard clinched the win at Fulham from the penalty spot in the 90th minute after strikes by Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, believes succeeding without Suarez's goals highlights the development of his squad.
“Luis is a world-class player and rightly so, but I'm building something here that isn't reliant on one player,” Rodgers said.
“At various times when Luis has been in the team and Daniel wasn't then Luis scored goals and other players scored goals. And then vice-versa.
“But you do not score the amount of goals that we do by just relying on one player.
“The great thing about Luis Suarez is if you asked him, 'Do you want the golden boot or would he rather be in the Champions League?' He'd be in the Champions League.
“He's such a selfless player. We're building an ethic for the team and that is the most important thing rather than any individual.”
Liverpool, who have earned plaudits for their smooth passing style and commitment to attack, were forced to display their grit and determination as they recovered from 1-0 and 2-1 down after Kolo Toure's own goal and Kieran Richardson's 63rd minute strike.
“It was a wonderful demonstration of the real togetherness and character of the group. I'm very pleased,” Rodgers said.
“We gave away disappointing goals. But we have goals in the team and that is something I've been trying to build.
“When I arrived at the club, the team wasn't scoring enough. Now we know we can go to any ground and home and get goals.
“The goals got us the three points rather than our defence. And I'm certain that if that had been in the first four or five months of my time here, we would have lost that game.
“But we've now built a way of working and playing, but not only that, we have built a spirit that sees us fight to the very end. It's what got us the result.
“We had to dig deep and that performance and result shows a lot of character. I can only give huge credit to the players.”
The game went ahead despite terrible weather conditions across England which forced the postponement of games at Everton and Manchester City, with transport links severely affected.
And Rodgers, whose side were backed by a full allocation of supporters in west London, hailed the global following of Liverpool.
“The Liverpool supporters are a special group of people. They travel from all over the world,” he said.
“I was saddened on Tuesday when I heard the game might be off because we have people from all around the world who come to support this great club and no more so than when we play in London.
“I hope everyone involved in football across the country got home safely.”
The outcome was cruel on bottom of the table Fulham, who performed to a level much higher than their current standing in the table suggests.
Their manager Rene Meulensteen said: “To lose 3-2 is hard to take. We should have taken a point. But you can see there is definitely an improvement.” – Sapa-AFP