• Brendan Rodgers unhappy after two penalties and a red card
• New Liverpool manager beaten in Premier League opener
Brendan Rodgers accused the referee Phil Dowd of destroying Liverpool’s hopes of a recovery at West Bromwich Albion as his first league game as the club’s manager ended in emphatic defeat at The Hawthorns.
The Northern Irishman suffered an agonising day as Liverpool had Daniel Agger sent off, conceded two penalties and Joe Cole aggravated a hamstring injury soon after appearing as a substitute. Zoltan Gera, with a stunning 20-yard finish, Peter Odemwingie and Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, scored the goals that gave Steve Clarke a winning start as Albion head coach against the club that sacked him last summer.
Agger was dismissed for a professional foul on Shane Long, who Rodgers claimed had exaggerated contact when pushed by the Denmark international and when winning a second penalty after a foul by Martin Skrtel.
The Liverpool manager, who admitted “There will be more days like this” as he re-shapes the squad, said: “I’m not going to go on about referees but thought the two penalty decisions were very, very harsh, three decisions if you include the sending off. Martin Skrtel doesn’t make contact with Shane Long. The first one there is slight contact but I know Shane well and I know how big and strong he is. It was very, very harsh. That changed the game because with 10 men it is very difficult.”
Clarke said: “The decisions went for us but there was contact on both occasions. Shane is an honest player and tried to get his shot away after the contact from Daniel Agger. The second one was a foul and a penalty.”
Rodgers confirmed Liverpool will consider an appeal against Agger’s dismissal, with the defender now suspended for next Sunday’s game against Manchester City at Anfield, and refused to fault his players for a dreadful defensive display with 10 men.
He added: “We controlled the first half and I thought if we stayed patient our quality would bring us back. But the sending off kills us, especially a new team that is coming together in terms of a structure and ideas. I have to credit the players. They ran themselves to a standstill. It is a work in progress. This is a marathon and this is only the first game.
“We have got to win games. I have heard a lot about patience recently. Managers want that but you don’t get it. We’ve got to win games and make progress, but this was a bad day at the office.”
It was a happier day for Rodgers’s former team, Swansea, who started life under Michael Laudrup with a 5-0 win at QPR.
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