Hillsborough families inspire Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers expects his Liverpool squad to represent the determination and perseverance shown by the families of the Hillsborough disaster victims this weekend, revealing he saw the magnitude of the past week's events register in the eyes of every player.
Liverpool Football Club came together for a vigil in Liverpool city centre on Wednesday following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, which stated that 41 of 96 fans killed on April 15, 1989 might have been saved.
Rodgers expressed his "shock" at the report's findings, as well as revealing a silence that was held by his squad at the club's training ground. Liverpool must now attempt to focus on the task of earning a first league win of the season at Sunderland, and Rodgers believes his players recognise the responsibility they carry as the club's representatives.
"We had a silence on the field during training on Wednesday," Rodgers said. "I was looking at the eyes and faces of the players who have just come in. They were not bemused, they understood.
"That's part of what being at Liverpool is about. This disaster was a big part of the club's history. It was monumental for this club. Everyone understands it from the youth team to the management. Everyone knows the magnitude of what happened."
Liverpool have been a mixed bag on the pitch so far this season, deservedly losing to West Brom and Arsenal, either side of giving champions Manchester City a real test in a 2-2 draw. Now a tough trip to Sunderland awaits at a ground where the Reds rarely win.
Rodgers has spent time with the families of the Hillsborough disaster during his short period as manager, and he wants to absorb every admirable quality shown by their 23-year pursuit of justice in order to give them a team they can be proud of.
"Everyone can draw inspiration from how hard they've fought, the time, the effort. It's not just a message for the football club, it's a world message," Rodgers said.
"Desire, will, perseverance, persistence - they were words that were flashing back to me as I was driving home. I knew the task I had when I took the job here but [the past few days] have given me greater pride, responsibility and drive.
"I've got a determination to bring some sort of happiness to the people who have suffered for so long. As the leader of a club like this, your duty isn't just to your players, it's to provide hope for supporters.
"What football can give those people is hope - and we have that opportunity. I understand what it means to them and I'm more than happy to carry that hope."