Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has no concerns with Steven Gerrard's recent form and called him 'a brilliant talent' in reaction to criticism regarding his poor start to the season.
Gerrard has played every minute for the Reds so far this campaign. However, after three defeats in five Premier League games, some believe that the club captain is not pulling his weight in midfield.
At 34-years-old, questions have been asked if the former England skipper is still up to the task of playing at the top level in the twilight years of his career.
Rodgers, nonetheless, believes the academy graduate is still at his best and is a superb asset to have in the Liverpool side.
When asked if he had any concerns about his captain at the club's pre-match press conference before the Capital One Cup tie against Middlesbrough, the Northern Irishman said: "No concerns whatsoever, no.
"He is a brilliant player for us, really talented. It was a team performance overall that just wasn't quite up to scratch. I feel we have managed his recovery really well in the last two seasons.
"Even when Steven was playing international football, I think if you look at his numbers and games and minutes he has played, you'll see in the last couple of seasons that it is as good as it has been in his career.
"He is obviously at the age where we will look at him individually as a player. We want him to be involved in our big games because of his experiences and his talent, and we'll always taper that recovery for him to allow him to be at the very best he can be."
Unfortunately, Gerrard has been extremely poor so far this season. He now undertakes the role of defensive midfielder, but he is just not cutting the mustard there.
The Whiston native is playing far too deep and when on the ball, he is virtually acting like an extra centre-half. It doesn't allow him to influence the game when he is on the ball as he cannot build up quick attacks.
Instead, he is hitting long balls that, more often than not, give possession away and put pressure on his side to win it back.
His defensive duties have also been queried. Considering he is playing a deeper role, Liverpool are still leaking goals at the back. In their last game, they conceded three against West Ham and Gerrard was not involved to aid his back four.
The former Champions League winner, if he does not improve, could find himself sitting on the Liverpool bench sooner than later.
Rodgers drafted in both Emre Can and Adam Lallana this summer for £10 million and £25 million respectively. They are both able to play the role of centre-midfield and could challenge Gerrard for his place if they impress.
Joe Allen is another who also can play the role and his work rate so far this season has clearly impressed Rodgers.
The best move for both Gerrard and Liverpool would be to drop him back to centre-back.
Defence is an area where the Reds have struggled constantly for the last two seasons. So far, Liverpool have conceded eight league goals in five games, despite spending £20 million on Dejan Lovren and £12 million for Alberto Moreno in the summer.
With no natural leader, it is hard for the defence to organise themselves properly. Gerrard would do this and shape his back four to cut out the silly mistakes they make too easily.
There is no doubt the Liverpool captain has the ability to play there. He is strong in the header and the tackle and can start attacks from the back by bringing the ball out at his feet.
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