Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool can proudly look back on its contribution in 2013 as the squad seeks to continue its strong progress over the next 12 months.
The Reds have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time in the manager’s tenure, as difficult away trips to Manchester City and Chelsea in the space of four days yielded no points.
Despite closing the year off on a tough note, the 40-year-old is delighted with the strides his squad has made in 2013.
“I thought that over the last year, from January till now, the squad has been outstanding,” Rodgers said. “There’s a great group of players, and we’re all working on taking this team forward. If we can continue with our effort and desire to work harder, we will push on in 2014 as well.”
At the same point last year, having played 20 games — one more than the current tally — Liverpool was ninth in the standings with 28 points and a goal difference of five. In contrast, the Reds lie fifth heading into 2014 with 36 points and a dramatically improved goal difference of 21.
It’s a remarkable advancement, one that Rodgers says he is pleased has been illustrated not just in statistics, but in the performance of the squad as well.
“What I’ve learned, or what’s been more reinforced really, is the courage of the players that we have here,” he said. “They’ve been brilliant over the last few games, even the very difficult last two against the two best squads in the country.
“I think it shows with the way the players have performed that we have 23 more points in this calender year than we did last year.
“Their bravery to get on the ball and the courage to take the game to the opponents has been brilliant. The last couple of games have shown that we still want to develop our squad.
“We know we’re a long way off, but the players have shown great pride in their work ethic and the effort they’ve been putting in.”
Liverpool has played every other team in the top eight away from home — with the exception of Manchester United — in a grueling first half of the season. Rodgers is looking forward to the same energy and enthusiasm from his side as new hurdles arise in the new year.
“We were unfortunate to get them [City and Chelsea] in back-to-back away games, but the squad have been great,” he said. “If we can keep up this courage and quality for the remainder of the season, and strengthen what we have, we will be amongst things.”
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