There is a growing belief that Liverpool’s ascent to the top four will last. Manager Brendan Rodgers puts that down to finding players with the hunger to play well for Liverpool – not just to play for Liverpool.
Exorcising some of the mistakes made by predecessors has taken time. That is a rare commodity. As has been money. After Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Newcastle, Rodgers spoke of an inability to compete with the top five in England financially. He did, however, stress that sixth place would not be viewed as a success, given the season’s start.
“Sixth this season would be an improvement but it would be disappointment,” he said. “In terms of money we have spent, it is nowhere near the top four or five but we are here to compete. Liverpool is one of the great football institutions of the world, we are never happy when we don’t win but we have to have a sense of perspective as well and coming on the back of the couple of weeks some of my players have had, to come here and come back twice is a great result.”
Liverpool proved at the season’s start that they can play without Luis Suarez, but he adds so much. He won the first-half penalty that led to Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s sending off, and which was converted by Steven Gerrard for his 100th Premier League goal.
That cancelled out a superb opener by Yohan Cabaye. Paul Dummett, a young Geordie full-back, became Newcastle’s first non-French scorer in the league this season. From there Suarez set his heart on an equaliser, drawing two fine saves from Tim Krul, striking the crossbar and teeing up Daniel Sturridge for the leveller.
It was still a good day for Newcastle. “Cabaye was magnificent,” said their manager, Alan Pardew. “The World Cup is not far away and he is inspired to show the French manager how good he is.”