Brendan Rodgers reflects on defeat to Aston Villa: 'What has come to Liverpool is realism'

Reds entertain Fulham this weekend

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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes his players were served a dose of reality this week and he hopes they have learned they cannot afford to be the slightest bit complacent.

An unexpected 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa last weekend was the Reds' worst display of the season and killed any momentum the team had going into the festive period.

As a result they have slipped seven points off the pace for Champions League qualification and with a packed schedule coming up Rodgers is keen for his side to swiftly address the issue.

"What has come to Liverpool is realism and where we are at and it's been great for the mentality of the players," he said.

"Our learning from it (the Villa defeat) was that no game is easy in this division.

"The comfort with which we were playing and the opportunities we created in the first 25 minutes would maybe have made you thought we were going to get the result - it's very easily done.

"It is great learning that you can't afford to (think like that), you have to keep pushing.

"We now need to make sure the performances, our focus and concentration is very high no matter who the opponent and we get what we want from the games.

"If you go into the game with any complacency or pre-conceived idea that it's going to be a stroll then you'll fall flat on your face.

"The reaction of the players has been first class - their willingness to put it right and get three points this weekend is very high and I've seen that in training."

The visit of Fulham tomorrow evening signals a sequence of five matches in 16 days but Rodgers has warned his players they cannot afford to think they can ease up.

He said they should not even consider protecting themselves for the forthcoming run as that was a decision for him and his backroom team.

"I always focus the players on the next game," he said.

"It is our job to maybe look at the teams in advance of the games as it's obviously a busy period and the players are human beings.

"You have to prepare the teams and look at the physical recovery in between but that is for the staff and the management to do that.

"The players' focus is purely on the next game because it is irrelevant what will happen at Stoke and QPR, you have to take care of Fulham."

Prior to last weekend's matches Liverpool had the chance to move within two points of fourth place, which would have been some achievement after their worst start to a season for over a century.

That they did not achieve it could have been down to the added pressure which came with that situation.

But Rodgers stressed that was something the squad should be used to.

"The main reason why I came here was the expectancy to win things and that's something that we'll fight for," he said.

"There's always expectancy here - it's one of the biggest clubs in world football.

"Probably for the first time at Anfield there was an expectancy of us to get the result - which there should be because we're playing at home.

"But you can't ever get too far ahead.

"We were going along nicely and we're still in a position where we can achieve our objectives and that's the most important thing.

"We've been reasonably consistent and climbing the table steadily, rather than quickly and now the focus is on making sure we're at our best.

"If we can do that we'll gain more points than we drop."