There was a time midway through last season when, in his search for some consistency, Brendan Rodgers offered his players the incentive of a free lunch.
When three straight wins were finally achieved, the Liverpool boss duly
FIFA Brasil jerseys picked up the bill at the San Carlo restaurant in the city centre.
This season no such inducements have been required. The title-chasing Reds head for struggling Cardiff City tomorrow looking to extend the most impressive run of Rodgers’ Anfield reign.
Five successive league victories have seen Liverpool plunder 18 goals and climb to second in the Premier League table.
Momentum is growing and Rodgers believes last Sunday’s 3-0 humiliation of Manchester United showcased his team’s progression.
“There are no more free lunches – we’ve moved on from that!” he said.
“This group of players have great motivation. There is real consistency in our performance level now. It’s a huge credit to them and how they’re working.
“Everyone was looking at us going into the United game but we always had the belief within ourselves.
“It was a big statement. Old Trafford has been a notoriously difficult place over many years but we played with such dominance.
“It was United’s ground, mostly their supporters but it was our ball. We controlled the game.
“We had a beautiful arrogance in our game. The intensity at which we pressed and some of the imagination in our football was great. Defensively, we were very strong.
“We showed the level we’re at in terms of work rate both with and without the ball.”
Questions keep getting asked of this Liverpool side but the answers have been emphatic. The manner in which United were comprehensively swept aside wasn’t a one-off.
“It was another one of those games in what’s been an amazing season so far,” Rodgers said.
“We came off Old Trafford thinking we won 3-0 but could have had five or six. When we played at home against Arsenal we scored five but could have had seven or eight.
“We got five away to Tottenham when it could have been six or seven, and four at home to Everton when it could have been six or seven.” It’s remarkable when you put it into context.
“As manager, it’s great to lead these players into these arenas and see them perform like that. The neutrals are looking at us and enjoying what they’re seeing.”
Rodgers has always said the Reds would get stronger and stronger the longer the season went on and so far his confidence has been borne out by results.
Last term Liverpool picked up 36 points in the second half of the campaign, having only earned 25 prior to then.
This time they reached the halfway stage with 36 points – but in the 10 games since the turn of the year they have already bagged a further 26.
The manager remains convinced that upward curve will continue through until May.
“The nature of how I work is to improve individuals,” he said.
“The objective is to win games and win titles consistently. The process as staff is to come into work every day to help players improve and as they become better the team becomes better.
“We ask ‘how can we make them the best they can be?’ We look at say Steven Gerrard and say ‘how can we improve him in every facet of his game?’
“We don’t see him as an older player, we see him as an outstanding player who still has great hunger to succeed. It’s the same with the young players like Raheem (Sterling).
“We have a plan for each player and we’re committed to helping them Neymar JR 10 jerseys become the best they can be, but it’s the player’s responsibility.
“The crown is on their head – they are the kings of their own destiny.
“If they listen and learn like they have been doing then in this environment they can only improve.”
03-23-2014, 02:40 AM #1
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There was a time midway through last season when, in his search for some consistency