By Phil Thomas

Skipper Gerrard linked up with his team-mates and Rodgers in Boston on Monday, midway through their American tour.

I can feel the fource

But by the time they kicked off their second pre-season game, a 2-1 loss to Roma at Fenway Park two days later, he had seen enough of his new gaffer to make his prediction.

It was certainly a bold one, given last season’s dismal eighth-place finish which owner John W Henry confirmed would have seen Kenny Dalglish axed, regardless of their FA Cup final fortunes.

Yet Gerrard can sense a new wave of optimism thanks to the impression Rodgers is making.

The midfielder was a spectator as an inexperienced Liverpool side pushed a strong Italian outfit all the way.

But despite the defeat, Gerrard witnessed enough to insist: “We’ll see a bolder Liverpool team — and more exciting too.

“It’s not just been these last few days that I’ve had a chance to learn about the new manager, he’s been in touch with me since he came in.

“He has made me aware of where he’s at and what he’s trying to do — I’ve been really impressed with him.

“His man-management is fantastic and if he can do that with all the players in the squad, then it can be really good for the club.

“I don’t think a team has ever gone from eighth to first.

“But there’s still other big targets for us to achieve short-term and that’s getting in that top four again — that’s the priority.

“And if you perform hard enough and well enough, it will come. That is the only way you get it and I am confident we will.

“But the other players have got to think how I think and use the hurt of what happened to make up for it. That is the only way you can do it.

“I honestly think we will get in the top four because if we play like we did in a lot of games last season and take our chances, we will be high up the table.

“The idea is to improve and have some fun along the way in the cup competitions, like we did last year.

“We were brilliant at times in the league too, it’s just we never got out of them what we deserved.

“But there were times you would come off thinking ‘no wonder we are sixth, seventh and eighth’.

“It was frustrating but if you look at the season, you can’t use it as an excuse for finishing eighth. It wasn’t good enough.

“Over the years sometimes Liverpool have come up against a certain type of opposition and shown them too much respect. But maybe we have had to, because of the style we’ve been asked to play.”

Last term Liverpool played the likes of Manchester United, City and Chelsea off the park — but the finishing position bore no resemblance to that.

Yet Rodgers has sent a new sense of belief coursing through his side — and Gerrard is convinced this time there is more substance than hope. He added: “There were times under previous managers when we showed too much respect, but Brendan wants us to play like a big team.

“He’s been coaching for 20 years and dealing with big players. I’ve been impressed with his knowledge and how he’s dealt with me.

“The players who have worked with him over the past few weeks have said the same.”

Against Roma, Rodgers sent out a side that never had more than two likely first-team regulars at any stage — with all 11 positions changed at some stage in the game.

Yet they caused the Italians plenty of hairy moments — only to have Charlie Adam’s late strike to show for it.

Gerrard, 32, added: “There is a lot of hard work to be done sharpish. But already in training, in only my second session, we are doing team shape and he is telling players what he expects movement wise.

“We are Liverpool, we can’t finish eighth. We have to put that right.”