SUNDERLAND: Steven Gerrard has pleaded for patience after Liverpool's worst start to a league season for over a century.
A late Luis Suarez equaliser earned a 1-1 Premier League draw at Sunderland, but it's the first time since 1911-12 the Merseyside club have failed to earn a victory in their opening four games of a campaign.
Manager Brendan Rodgers, appointed in pre-season after Liverpool sacked Anfield great Kenny Dalglish, faces a huge task to turn round seasons of decline just three months into his fledgling reign, with the Reds clear of the bottom three only on goal difference in the table.
They failed to earn a win on the field after arguably their greatest ever victory off it this week as, after years of campaigning, their fans were finally absolved of any blame by an independent panel for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which led to the death of 96 Liverpool fans.
Gerrard feels the club is heading in the right direction under their new young manager, and the Liverpool skipper has asked for time for the Northern Irishman to put his principles into practice.
“It depends how quickly we get the message the manager is trying to give,” said England midfielder Gerrard.
“We know it won't happen overnight, but you saw today that it won't be long before it does.”
Liverpool warmed-up in training shirts honouring the 96 who lost their lives at the ill-fated FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham forest 23 years ago.
Gerrard added: “It would have been nice to take the three points after the week we've had, but it wasn't to be.”
Despite earning an unwanted place in the club's record books with their winless opening run, Rodgers was bullish about the improvements made so far during his tenure.
“There are statistics for everything, and often your first few results are dictated by the nature of your fixtures,” he insisted.
“But over the course of our four games, there's been a big improvement and I've seen enough to know things are getting better.
“It's been a difficult week as you can imagine for the club and the city and it's been emotional, but when you sign for Liverpool that's part of the contract,” Rodgers explained.
“It's all part of the journey with Liverpool and I have to say the supporters were excellent for the way they drove the team on.
“I'm pleased with the performance and the commitment, they were both outstanding. We had a real good tempo to the game and the goal we conceded was against the run of play and soft from our point of view.
“A point was the very least we deserved at a place that's difficult to get anything from. People who've watched us will see we've improved over a short period of time.”
Scotland international Steven Fletcher gave Sunderland a first-half lead with his third goal in two Premier League starts since a #12 million move from Wolverhampton Wanderers last month.
But the hosts were left to hang on for a point, their 11th consecutive game without a league win stretching back to last season.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill admitted: “Liverpool deserved to equalise because they had the better of the second half. If that's 11 games without a win, it's a statistic we'd like to change.”