Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers claimed there are external forces at work with an agenda against him but he refused to say who he thought was behind it or why.
Rodgers has seen his position come under increasing scrutiny after some poor performances but he thinks there is an active campaign being waged against him.
“I am pretty confident that there is a group of people that don’t want me here to be the manager,” he said.
“Sometimes we haven’t lost games and the hysteria around it is pretty clear that there is maybe something else going on from behind.
“I am talking about people outside of here (the club).
“We have lost two games, which is equivalent to Tottenham and Manchester United.
“The hysteria around ourselves is interesting to note. Myself and the players stay very calm and work very hard knowing we will get our rewards.
“We are very much together as a team and the supporters were fantastic today.
“As supporters and players we got the victory. We are five points off the top and still with a lot of progress to make.”
Rodgers’ comments suggest he is unhappy with his treatment in the media. Many former Liverpool players have been highly critical, although Rodgers would not offer any hint of who he was referring to.
Whatever his argument with outside influences, there is no doubt Liverpool have received a boost from the return of Sturridge, who scored his first goals since March after a hip operation.
“It is not rocket science. The last time we scored three goals was when he started against Tottenham (in February),” Rodgers added.
“If you want to compete at the top you need quality. Daniel has shown in his time he is a real top talent.
“I thought he was outstanding and I was disappointed he didn’t get a hat-trick.
“His overall game and touch were outstanding and he had a great combination with Danny Ings.
“That is the first time they have started and they showed that understanding that good players have.”
While Liverpool are only five points adrift of leaders Manchester United, Villa are stuck in the bottom three.
“If you score two at Anfield you expect to take something from the game but we didn’t do that,” said manager Tim Sherwood.
“That is a major disappointment but it is something I expected.
“It is a young group of players we acquired. The club decided it was the best way to go forward and I am very privileged to have the chance to work with them but it comes with its ups and downs.”
Liverpool 3-2 Aston Villa