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Rodgers puts faith in purist principles
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is adamant his playing philosophy can help the Reds close the gap to the top four as he prepares for his first Premier League match in charge at West Brom on Saturday.
Rodgers was hired after establishing Swansea in the Premier League with an impressive debut season and Liverpool's American owners expect him to deliver the eye-catching play that earned so many plaudits for the Welsh club last term.
While Liverpool won the League Cup and reached the FA Cup final last season, Kenny Dalglish was still sacked in May after finishing a woeful eighth in the league.
So far the only additions Rodgers has managed have been the captures of Roma's Italy striker Fabio Borini, Swansea's Wales midfielder Joe Allen and Morocco winger Oussama Assaidi from Dutch club Heerenveen.
But he believes the playing style that won his old club so many admirers can help Liverpool at least challenge for a Champions League berth.
"For us it's about being competitive this year in every competition we're in. The challenge at the top of the table is greater than ever," Rodgers said.
"It was the top two, the top three, then the top four. Now there are seven or eight teams involved in that.
"The top four is certainly not something we'll shy away from. It's where a club of this status wants to be, but it's always easier said than done. The reality over the past three seasons or so hasn't been that.
"It's important that if you don't have the money, you have got to be different. That's the idea of trying to find a style. One of the ways in which we can hopefully gain an edge is in how we play and control and dominate games.
"I've got some wonderful players here, some world-class players, and I'm excited about the young players that are coming through. There are always ways in which you are trying to make the difference.
"Everyone wants the money but you can't always have the money. But it won't stop our hunger and desire to improve and be better, and one of the ways in which we'll look to do that is to define our model of play."
Swansea prevented Allen from playing in last Sunday's friendly with Bayer Leverkusen.
But Rodgers is sure the playmaker will be fit and available after playing at the Olympics and he has no injury concerns ahead of the game at the Hawthorns.
Meanwhile, West Brom head coach Steve Clarke insists he bears no grudges towards Liverpool despite his departure as part of Dalglish's exit.
Clarke, who worked as Dalglish's assistant, has defended the club's record during his time there, pointing to the Reds reaching both domestic cup finals last season.
"I've got no grievance whatsoever with Liverpool Football Club. I had a fantastic time there and obviously after Saturday I'll wish them well for the season," he said.
"It's a big game for me because it's my first in charge of West Bromwich Albion.
"It wouldn't matter who the opposition is, it would still be just as big a game.
"I think I can also look back on my time at Liverpool and say that Kenny and I did well. We came in at a difficult time for Liverpool and stabilised the club.
"We got them into a good position, reached two cup finals and put together a decent squad.
"I spoke to Kenny towards the end of last season when we didn't envisage that we wouldn't be at Liverpool about our prospects for this season and we both agreed that top four was a realistic target for that squad."
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