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Toronto v Liverpool - Match Preview
Brendan Rodgers takes charge of Liverpool for the first time in a pre-season friendly in the Canadian city of Toronto. The Northern Irishman was brought to Merseyside to replace Kenny Dalglish earlier in the summer after leading Swansea into the Barclays Premier League. Once there, the Welsh side earned an army of new admirers as their brand of football elicited comparisons to Barcelona. Rodgers is hoping to instill his philosophies on those who work day in, day out at Melwood, but ahead of his first game in charge of the Reds against Toronto FC on Saturday, he admitted supporters may need to be patient.
"The game is ultimately based on your players," he told reporters at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, where the Reds landed three hours behind schedule due to a delayed flight on Friday. "Of course, that's how I work, but I certainly won't expose players.
"If players are uncomfortable playing that way, it's not something I'll enforce onto them. I've always looked to the strengths of the players.
"Hopefully over time we can get that model but from what I've seen of the players so far, I think they've enjoyed working that way. They've been fantastic with the football but it's just going to take that wee bit of time. We're football coaches and managers, not magicians."
The Toronto clash will see Rodgers give his first teamtalk as Liverpool boss. "I'm very honoured," he said. "It's a real privilege for me to be the manager of Liverpool. You always hope, when you start coaching, that you can work at one of the biggest clubs in the world and at 39 years of age I've been very fortunate to arrive at Liverpool. It doesn't frighten or daunt me, it excites me. The history of the club is a real motivation for me. For me to come in and follow so many great managers before me, I'm very proud to make those steps."
Fans are likely to see some unfamiliar faces during Liverpool's North America tour, with the 34 players taking part including 10 who are based permanently at the Academy.
"It's important for the young players," said Rodgers. "Some of these boys, like Jordan Ibe who is only 16 years of age and Raheem Sterling who is 17, and the other guys, it's a big part of their development to come away with the first team, and to be away from home for so long. Some of these guys have literally just left home to become footballers, so it's an adaptation for them. But this is great experience. This gives me a great chance to take a look at them all, senior players and youth players. Over the course of the next three games we'll be looking to use a lot of the players who are here - that's the idea."
Reporters asked Rodgers about his first signing, Fabio Borini, who is due to join his new teammates early next week following a summer helping Italy reach the Euro 2012 final.
"He is a big talent, hence the reason I brought him to the club," said the boss. "I've worked with and known Fabio for a long time. He's a very talented player and he'll fit really well into our group. That will be the biggest thing for us - there will be no individual that's bigger than the team, and Fabio will be an important member of that team."
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