London – Brendan Rodgers hailed Jonjo Shelvey’s “outstanding” performance as a lone striker in place of the suspended Luis Suarez after Liverpool’s 3-2 victory at West Ham.
But the Liverpool manager played down his side’s chances of securing Champions League football next season despite moving to within four points of the qualification places.
Rodgers said: “It’s a brilliant win for us. You’ve seen the two different ways you can play the No 9 role.
“In this country it’s always been traditional – the target man.
“But 20-year-old Jonjo Shelvey was dropping into midfield, combining to make the fourth man and being a threat when he was in the box. Great credit to him because there was a lot of pressure on him, people trying to compare him to Luis Suarez.’
Asked if he had feared the loss of the 13-goal Uruguayan would prove critical, Rodgers replied: “You guys did. For us there was no drama. My focus was about the collective. We must share the goals, we must share the workload. I had great belief we could create goals and score goals. Even without Luis you’ve seen the quality in the team and the fight.”
However, he was cool on the suggestion they could be playing in Europe’s elite competition next year.
“We’re just trying to build our momentum. Certainly over these past couple of months we’ve been progressing and just let’s see where we finish. This is a club that’s one of the biggest in world football and everyone knows where it should be.
“‘It’s a very tight league this season and we’re certainly one of the top teams.
“We didn’t have the best start but it’s more about how you finish.
“For us, we’ve supposedly had an unbelievably bad season up until now, so once we really hit form we’ll be all right.”
Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce said he feared influential midfielder Mohamed Diame would be out for up to 12 weeks after suffering a serious hamstring tear.
The West Ham: “It doesn’t take a medical expert to know it’s a serious hamstring tear when you fall and stop the way he did.
“I’d expect it to be anything up to eight, 10, 12 weeks.”
The Senegalese was expected to be a target for clubs in the January transfer window and Allardyce conceded that his inability to pass a medical could be a “silver lining”. But he added:”I’d sooner have the aggravation of agents and people trying to buy him and have him playing for us than do without him.” – Daily Mail