LIVERPOOL -- Brendan Rodgers says his title-chasing Liverpool side feel plenty of hunger, but no pressure. The Reds, who face Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, are a point behind Premier League leaders Chelsea going into the weekend’s fixtures.
Spurs' boss Tim Sherwood has questioned whether a Liverpool side relatively short on title-winning experience can hold their nerve during the run-in. But Rodgers responded by suggesting that Tottenham, currently sixth, have underachieved after spending more than 100 million pounds on players last summer as they sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
“I can tell from our perspective here that the players and the group are very relaxed, but focused," said Rodgers. “There’s no expectation on us being where we are, so there’s certainly no pressure on us. Tottenham were a team maybe looking to challenge for the league this season. They spent 100-odd million pounds on a group that was set up to challenge. But there’s no pressure on us. We’ve shown that over the course of the season.”
Of the four managers still with a realistic chance of winning this season’s Premier League title, Rodgers is the least experienced. The 41-year-old took up his first managerial job at Watford in November 2008, then held spells at Reading and Swansea City before moving to Liverpool in June 2012.
However, he points to the fact that he gained extensive coaching experience before moving into management. Having seen his career as a defender at Reading ended by a knee problem when he was 20, Rodgers spent 15 years learning his trade as a youth and reserve-team coach, most notably at Chelsea.
“I suppose in terms of management, this would be my sixth season as a manager, but I’ve been stood on the touchline for 20-odd years," said Rodgers. “While going through the experiences I’ve gained this year, I’ve been able to put into practice things I’ve been working on for many years in youth football, reserve-team football, working across the world, playing for many different teams on different continents."
Rodgers added that he's been able to implement those tactics and ideas learned over the years at the senior level he currently maintains with Liverpool. But he also admitted that, as one of the youngest managers in the Prem, he still has a lot to learn.
“But it’s not as if I’m new to it. I’m enjoying the position and seeing us develop as a team and a club," said the Reds' boss. “The experience issue can work both ways. If you have the experience, then you maybe know what’s ahead, but also you can look at it from the other perspective. You can look at our team and us as a staff, and see that we’re very hungry to succeed. And that hunger can sometimes be a real advantage.
“We’ve seen it already this season. There are other teams with more experienced players than ours, who have won more titles. But we’ve shown as a team that we’re growing and developing," said Rodgers. “We’re looking to put something in place not just for this one season. It’s a process that started 18 months ago, and we’re looking to create sustainable success."