Thursday, November 22, 2012

Brendan: We're Constantly Improving

Brendan Rodgers believes his squad is near to the level he wants them to be and insists his side has momentum firmly behind them as they continue to improve on a daily basis.

The manager was speaking to the press ahead of what will be a crucial Europa League tie against Young Boys at Anfield on Thursday and a game in which the Reds could secure early qualification from the group stage if results go their way.

And Rodgers told reporters how his players are getting to grips with a new way of working and will only get stronger as the season progresses.

"I said at the beginning of the season that I wanted to build a competitive group and for us that means competing at the top end," said Rodgers. "That's where every team will want to be and for us it's no different.

"I feel this group will get stronger as the season goes on. We have momentum and the mentality is strong. We're hard to beat and we'll improve into the second half of the season.

"We're in a good place now and I see a sort of cohesion and a template for where we want to be growing every day.

"We're near where I want us to be, but what we're installing is a mentality and resilience in the group - which will provide a real foundation for us going forward. I believe that in the second half of the season we will become stronger and better.

"I've always tried to map out where I want to go and I've done that since I was a young coach. It's a lot easier if you know where you want to go and for me I have always set myself targets and goals.

"But all you can do is work well and continue to learn - which is very important. My ambitions will always be in the best interests of the club. I want this club to succeed. I'm hungry and I'm very keen to learn.

"I couldn't judge percentage-wise where we are at but if we can make a percentage increase every single day then we are going to improve. The players have been brilliant and now they feel comfortable in the way that we're working."

The manager also confirmed that Lucas Leiva will miss the clash against Young Boys on Thursday night - but Rodgers added that the midfielder is set to feature in the U21s' clash against Middlesbrough on Friday - a game you can watch exclusively live on LFC TV at 2pm GMT.

The Brazilian has been out of action since sustaining a thigh injury in the first home game of the Reds' Barclays Premier League campaign against Manchester City in September.

"The injured players are returning very quickly," said Rodgers. "Lucas Leiva is back in training but he won't be involved in the game on Thursday night. He will play a reserve game on Friday but he looks very good [fitness-wise].

"All the players have been coming through. The group is very healthy and very strong."

Nuri Sahin has been a prominent feature in Rodgers' side so far in the Europa League and the Turkish international has often been the leading presence on the pitch as part of a relatively young side.

"He's a very talented footballer," insisted Rodgers. "I've known Nuri since he was a youngster and he broke onto the scene in Germany.

"Technically he's very strong and tactically he can participate very well. He's got a real hunger to succeed and so I've really enjoyed working with him."

The manager also took time out to heap praise on Luis Suarez, who could be in contention to face Young Boys at Anfield on Thursday and add to his tally of two goals in the Europa League so far.

"He's certainly one of the top strikers around at the moment in European football and world football," said Rodgers. "There's absolutely no doubt about that - I think he has proven that.

"What makes Luis unique is his unpredictability. You are not sure if he is going to spin or feint to shoot. He twists and turns around the box. His cleverness and his brightness is incredible.

"Every day he trains against the likes of Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher, Sebastian Coates and these are all strong and committed centre-halves. So it's very hard for them every single day. He's wonderful striker, who has still got a lot to learn as well. He's still looking to improve."

No comments: