Steven Gerrard says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has to take criticism on the chin when "people are trying to kill you."
The Reds captain gave a frank interview in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s Capital One League Cup victory over Bournemouth when he admitted that his own form had been poor. Liverpool are currently in 11th place in the Premier League and out of the UEFA Champions League after failing to win a must-win clash with Basel at Anfield.
They face Arsenal on Sunday with Gerrard urging his teammates to "roll up your sleeves and fight for the club."
"It’s been tough of late, I can’t deny that," Gerrard said. "It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster so to get a good win at Bournemouth is a big lift and a lift that is very welcome. We have a tough game at the weekend against Arsenal and then we have a run of fixtures which are a bit more kind to us. If we can get a big result against Arsenal and build on this, we can turn it around."
He added: "It’s been very hard. I’ve experienced it a few times during my career at Liverpool when it gets tough under certain managers and, from the outside, people are trying to kill you. It’s normal. We’re at a big club, we’ve got to take that responsibility. We can’t have players hiding and feeling sorry for ourselves. Everyone knows if we perform back to how we have done of late against Arsenal we’ll get beat. We need men out there and, on Wednesday, I thought we all turned up. That’s why the result came."
Gerrard was part of a Liverpool side that was leading 4-0 inside 20 minutes against Arsenal at Anfield in February but does not expect a repeat performance.
"We won that game in the first 20 minutes but when you have a strike force of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, they are capable of killing teams in 20 minutes," said Gerrard.
"It’s different this year and everyone knows that. I think they provided 60-70% of our goals, those two. You take them out of any team in the world and it’s going to be tough, and it has been. But I think this is where you find out what kind of players you’ve got in the dressing room. It’s time to roll your sleeves up and fight for the club and try to put it right as soon as possible and that’s what we’re trying to do.
"Criticism comes with the territory. There was a stage where a couple of my performances were under par and I got a bit of stick. It’s normal. I’ve got to accept it being captain of the club, and he’s got to accept it being the manager of Liverpool.
"If results don’t go well, questions are going to be asked, criticism is going to fly, you take it on the chin and try to improve things. That’s the only way.
"I know when I don’t play well. Every individual does here. But I think, collectively, it has been tough. It’s been tough to perform because we haven’t played well as a team and so there have been tough days of late.
"But if we keep fighting, keep performing, roll our sleeves up, keep giving everything we’ve got, I’m sure the good days are not too far away."