Rodgers' Side Have Some Growing G Up to Do by Next Se Eason; 'Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger Controlled Carlton Cole Very Well' - Rodgers Reds Lack Guile to Break Down N Visitors

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Byline: PHIL KIRKBRIDE at Anfield

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVERPOOL 0 WESTHAM 0 WHEN Brendan Rodgers talked about growing pains this is no doubt what he had in mind. But as the Liverpool manager reflected on his first-season in charge at Anfield, he was hoping to have finally seen the back of them.

After Liverpool's spurt against Aston Villa seven days earlier came this latest result which shrinks their hopes of qualifying for Europe even further.

The gap to Everton remains three points but with time running out, Arsenal and Chelsea gained further ground with wins over the weekend.

Rodgers' side have been graceful and free-flowing in recent months to put themselves back in the frame for another season on the continent but against West Ham United yesterday afternoon, the ball was caught under their feet.

Liverpool dominated the game and should have won but lacked the quality and spark in the final third to seal the deal.

Fortune was not their friend either as Daniel Sturridge's goal was wrongly ruled out for offside, Steven Gerrard was denied a penalty and centre-back James Tomkins put his body on the line to prevent the captain scoring.

But, then, this was no bad luck tale and Rodgers was indebted to Lucas Leiva's goal-line clearance and the courage of Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger throughout.

A third 0-0 draw of the season - and against a side fighting for survival - reflects badly on Liverpool but much of what they did at Anfield was positive; they just couldn't score.

Visiting manager Sam Allardyce was right to highlight how well his side had defended and the chances that had fallen to Jack Collison, Carlton Cole and Mohamed Diame.

But he was wrong to say they had the best opportunities and to suggest his side deserved a first win on this ground since 1963.

Either way, such a result provides ready-made ammunition for those who remain unconvinced by Rodgers and, specifically, his decision to offload Andy Carroll to the Hammers on loan.

Carroll, as part of the agreement, did not feature yesterday but how some Liverpool fans will have hoped he had been available to them because when Rodgers looked for impetus off the bench he saw Ousamma Assaidi as his best option.

The winger's impact was minimal, Liverpool ran out of ideas late on and the crowd left early.

But it is far too simplistic to say Carroll would have made any difference yesterday.

Had the referee's assistant made the right had erothe call and allowed Sturridge's goal - and hGerrard not been denied by Tomkins' heics - then Liverpool would have got goals they deserved and talk of Carwould have been but a whisper.

* - Rodgers was right to believe that one gwould have led to a flurry at Anfield yterday but a combination of factors cgoal yesonspired to keep the scoresheet blank. And how often have Liverpool been without the spark of ingenuity and flair that Luis Suarez has served up so often? …