Glen Johnson insists Liverpool has demonstrated plenty of improvement during Brendan Rodgers‘ tenure so far — and believes positive strides have been made towards a return to UEFA Champions League football.
The fullback feels the Reds have demonstrated they have taken steps forward under the tutelage of the boss, who arrived at the club last June, and is confident next season will see them move even closer to the top four of the Barclays Premier League standings.
“It is clearly a better season than last season,” Johnson told reporters. “Brendan is looking to improve the squad and we have got a better squad than we did have.
“He will look to improve again in the summer. If we can nick the goals we need, we will be right in amongst it [next season].
“Brendan was brought in to rebuild the squad and put Liverpool back into the places that it should be [as a club]. He wants to put us back in the top four but he wasn’t asked to do that in his first season. This season has been a step closer to that.
“Of course everyone — players, staff, fans — would love us to be back in the top four but, if we improve on last season, then it is a step in the right direction.”
Liverpool was held to a goalless draw by West Ham United on Sunday in its last fixture, and Johnson added: “Eight times out of 10 we have dominated games.
“Sometimes, like against West Ham, we haven’t come away with the points that we deserve. It is difficult. We have battered teams but, if we don’t get that early goal, it has given them encouragement.”
Johnson insists it’s not just on the field that Rodgers has made a difference — citing the atmosphere and team spirit around Melwood as a key factor in Liverpool’s improvement under the manager.
“You look at the squad, the feeling that there is around the place, the football that we are playing and, like I said, eight times out of 10 we have been battering teams,” he said.
“That wasn’t the case last season. We won a trophy last season and of course that was fantastic. Everyone wants to win — that’s what we are in the game for. But in terms of getting Liverpool back where they belong, we want to be back in the top four.”
Meanwhile, Johnson admits he’ll be sad to see Jamie Carragher hang up his boots at the end of the season.
The vice-captain will retire from playing at the conclusion of 2012-13 — and Liverpool’s No. 2 feels he’ll be missed.
“He has been a fantastic player for many years,” Johnson said. “We have got some fantastic center-backs at the club but I’m sure that when Carra moves on, Brendan will look to strengthen in that area.
“We have already got Martin Skrtel, Danny [Agger] and Seba [Coates]. They are very, very good centre-backs. Any team will miss Carra.”
Photo via Liverpoolfc.com