Liverpool Premier League title bid: 'It's brilliant being top of the league,' says manager Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers says he is not feeling any pressure at all at the summit
Friday 25 April 2014
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists being top of the league is brilliant and he is sleeping better than ever, despite the perceived pressure which comes with the position.
The Reds are five points clear of Sunday's visitors Chelsea and six ahead of third-placed Manchester City, who have a match in hand, with three games to go.
Liverpool are closer to the title than they have been in the 24 years since they last won it, but Rodgers stressed it would not be a failure were they not to win it from this position.
"No chance. We have next year to go again so it is not the end of the world," he said.
"We want to win, we are in a brilliant position, but the focus is only on Chelsea.
"That is a big game for us and we will hopefully get over that hurdle - we might clip it, but as long as we get over it that is important - and then it is on to the next one.
"We must enjoy it. We are not going to not enjoy it.
"There is no pressure with it. People say to me 'Are you not enjoying it? You must not sleep at night'. I haven't slept better!
"This is brilliant, we are top of the most competitive league in the world, the city has a real vibe and excitement around it, the supporters are loving it and we are showing the real scale of the club.
"I'd be lying if I said I expected us to be top of the league, but I certainly believed in the players and trusted their qualities and believed we could challenge for the top four.
"Yes we are a year ahead (of expectations), but we're not going to complain. We'll embrace it.
"We really want to help the supporters dream by making their dreams happen, but that is something we can only do by performing well and the consequence of that is hopefully winning games."
Despite suggestions they did not have the mentality to win the title, Liverpool have so far answered their critics with 11 successive victories.
And Rodgers said because the likes of Chelsea and City had begun the season with title aspirations, they were likely to be finding it more of a strain than his squad.
"I think everyone is talking about pressure but that is Manchester City or Chelsea - when you spend that sort of money and expect to win the league," he added.
"I don't think there is pressure on ourselves, only from what we have within. Look at Tottenham, you spend over £100-odd million you'd expect to be challenging for the league.
"We will do the best we possibly can. At this moment in time we have been absolutely outstanding."
And were Liverpool not to complete the job in the next three games, the Reds boss said it would not be as a result of them cracking.
He said: "I believe it won't be because of pressure; a bit of luck might go against us or we make a mistake - which can happen in football - but the players have shown since the second half of last season we have coped with pressure."
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho suggested that, with a finely-balanced Champions League semi-final second leg at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, he would field a weakened side at Anfield, but Rodgers paid that no attention.
"Jose is a winner, he won't give up," he said.
"There are certainly no mind games on behalf of him to me, he knows me well enough to know it wouldn't bother me one iota what he says or does.
"I've seen some stuff saying a weakened team will be played, but that is hugely disrespectful to their players if they are deemed to be the weaker ones in the squad.
"Whatever team they put out will have cost more than ours and will be more experienced.
"It is difficult because they have the game in the week and there is no doubt if they played the same team on Sunday and Wednesday there is a cost.
"You saw it with Manchester City. When they played us it was a really intense game, and I think Manuel (Pellegrini) felt on the Wednesday when they played Sunderland they had a real cost and ended up drawing the game."
Rodgers also expressed some sympathy for David Moyes after he was sacked by Manchester United earlier this week.
"I'm saddened that a man who is an outstanding manager lost his job in the circumstances he did," added the Northern Irishman.
"I find it fascinating and sad he was opened up to the ridicule he was."
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