One of the more revealing scenes in Being Liverpool, the largely excruciating series that covered the early months of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool reign, was the clip in which he disciplined Raheem Sterling for backchat on the training ground.
Rodgers takes training seriously. He is evidently a believer in the management aphorism, “a team that fails to prepare, prepares to fail”.
One player who appears not to have shared this view is Victor Moses, four years older than Sterling but for most of this season his Anfield understudy, which he will not have anticipated when joining on loan from Chelsea. Now, though, the penny appears to have dropped and he was rewarded for his improved attitude with a start against Bournemouth, responding with his first goal since his club debut in September. “I have seen improvements in his training,” said Rodgers. “That is the big part of it for me because if the top players are training nine or 10 out of 10 every day, and if you have players who are five or six out of 10 every day, then they are not ready to train with the top players, never mind play games with them.
“So you have to get them up to the level – and I am not just talking Victor here, I’m talking any player. Maybe at a lower level you’ll have players that will have a lazy day in training and turn it on in the game but not at the top level.
“For Victor it is very simple. He wants to [be] at a big club. In order to do that he needs to be performing day-in, day-out, in training. If he does really well for us there is a possibility we will want to have him permanently, but ultimately it is Chelsea’s decision and if he has done really well they will want to keep him.”
Moses’ chances have been limited in part by Sterling’s return to form after a dip following a new contract last season. “I was hanging off [giving him the contact] because I know the consequence,” said Rodgers. “At 17, 18 you are handed that contract and you think you don’t have to work any more. But he [has re-focused] and now you see a young, hungry player who is doing great.”
Daniel Sturridge too has rediscovered his drive under Rodgers and scored his 14th club goal of the season to kill off a cultured and spirited Bournemouth. Liverpool will go into tomorrow’s Merseyside derby full of confidence.
“It’s a massive game,” said Rodgers. “I really hope we can turn that home advantage into a win and that would give us a four-point advantage over Everton. The most important thing is to stay focused on the performance and the result will take care of itself.”