Rodgers vows Liverpool won't crack in title race
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers (C) congratulates Luis Suarez after scoring a hat trick against Cardiff City during their English Premier League soccer match at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, March 22, 2014. REUTERS PhotoLiverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has promised that if the Reds fall short in this season's Premier League title race, it won't be for a lack of mental resolve.
Rodgers's in-form side will move to within a point of leaders Chelsea if they beat Sunderland at Anfield on Wednesday.
But while the likes of Chelsea and fellow title rivals Manchester City can both point to recent Premier League triumphs, the last time Liverpool finished a season at the very summit of English football was in the old First Division era in 1990.
Liverpool twice fell behind before overpowering relegation-threatened Cardiff 6-3 last weekend but Rodgers insisted that should not be taken as a sign of weakness as the Merseysiders enter the final eight league games of the campaign.
"Every team that comes through and wins (the title) have to be in that situation at some stage," Rodgers said.
"If you go back 10 years or so Chelsea hadn't won the league for 50 years when they eventually did win," the Northern Irishman added.
"People may have questioned whether they had the mental strength to win it but when you do win it no-one then questions it.
"I only need to look at the squad and we certainly have the strength of character and we have shown that over a period of time.
"In my time here there has been various items thrown at the team," explained Rodgers, who took charge at Anfield in June 2012 following the departure of Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish.
"When I first came in we didn't score enough goals and that has now been flipped to we concede too many goals.
"'Do we have the character?' and then we go on a run and we're okay. 'Is the squad big enough? Are they fit enough?' It continues but we just concentrate on our work.
"We are up in that top area where we want to be but we don't underestimate any opponent with eight games to go.
"We are just continuing with the focus on a one-game strategy as that's what keeps it simple." And as far as Rodgers is concerned, a largely youthful Liverpool team, but one featuring experienced heads in captain Steven Gerrard and star striker Luis Suarez, are coming along nicely.
"The objective coming in was to make us a more attacking, potent force knowing the other stuff will improve as we go along and the players have responded magnificently to the ideas we are looking to implement," Rodgers said.
"We just work to make ourselves a more potent force. We are not perfect. We have the capacity to keep clean sheets but it has got to be consistent.
"What we have been able to work on is no matter what mistakes we make in the game we still have a positive attitude towards winning it.
"It is not total freedom, it is very much structured in terms of how we work, but I feel people enjoy watching us," Rodgers added.