Rodgers positive over title chances
Brendan Rodgers said his Liverpool side now expect to win every time they play as they seek to become champions of England for the first time since 1990.
The Reds returned to the top of the table on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over Tottenham at Anfield. It was Liverpool’s eighth successive league victory, and took them a point clear of Chelsea, who were beaten 1-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
“I just feel a huge privilege to be here and be given the freedom to work,” Rodgers, who took charge in 2012 after a spell with Swansea, said on the club’s official website. "We're trying to make something that's sustainable here, not just for this season. We're trying to grow and develop this club.
“It's fantastic the supporters now have hope because there are only six games to go. I enjoy it -- it's why I've worked hard all of my life since I was a young boy, travelling throughout Europe to find out about some of the top leagues and teams.
“I don't think anybody expected us to be where we are. The last few seasons we have been eighth and we finished seventh last year. We go into every game to win and I expect it. What's been great to see is that idea and methodology of our work bearing fruit in the game.
“There are still some great teams up there and some world-class managers. We understand it's going to be very difficult, but we just control what we can do -- and if we can do that, we'll just see where it takes us.”
Liverpool’s shortage of title-winning experience raises a question as to whether they can stay at the top. It is the first time that manager Rodgers has been involved in a race to be Premier League champions, while only three of his players have English title winners’ medals -- full-back Glen Johnson, centre-back Kolo Toure and striker Daniel Sturridge.
However, Johnson, who was part of Chelsea side who claimed their first title in 50 years when they were champions in 2005, told the Liverpool Echo that he believed his team were very capable.
He said: “Any team who is top of the league at this stage deserves to be there. This is a difficult league with a lot of tough games but I think we can stay there.
“This is a fantastic club. Everyone involved here loves it and wants to win the league badly. We want to get the club back where it should be.”
Liverpool control their title destiny even though third-placed Manchester City are only four points behind with two games in hand. That is because City still have to visit Anfield on April 13, with Chelsea to follow two weeks later.
Johnson, though, is wary of getting carried away, warning that the next priority is to chase a ninth successive league win when they visit West Ham this coming Sunday.
“Playing in the best league in the world, the hardest thing is to go game by game,” he said. “Every day you’ve got your mates texting you and you see on the news how close you are. But everyone here is professional. Every time we come here we have a job to do. We just need to think about West Ham away next Sunday now and concentrate on that.
“I’m sure everyone is looking forward to those big home games against City and Chelsea but we have to take care of West Ham first otherwise those games might not be as relevant. We have to make sure we win our next game.
“Forget the league table, just win at Upton Park. Being top now is only significant if we stay there.”
Johnson, who arrived from Portsmouth for 17 million pounds in 2009, is set for talks at the end of the season to extend a contract that expires in June 2015.
He said: “Yeah, of course I want to stay here. I’ve always said to Brendan that I am loving it here and I want to be here for years to come. Hopefully we can get something sorted this summer.”