Brendan Rodgers could only applaud the performance of the Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy on Saturday, even though it cost his Liverpool side two points.
It was, Rodgers said, the best goalkeeping display he had ever seen and he spoke with admiration and, as a former Reading manager, some pride about the heroics of the 23-year-old.
When asked if he had ever seen anything better, Rodgers had not. "I can't recall," said the Liverpool manager. "I was just sat in the changing room with the staff, and I can't remember being at a game where a keeper has made a goalkeeping performance like that, either as a manager or a coach or just being a spectator. Normally you get goalkeepers who make one save or two saves that make the difference. But the young guy made an incredible number of saves – and then when he was beaten it was cleared off the line."
Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Stewart Downing and Philippe Coutinho were all denied by McCarthy. Having seen them create so many chances, Rodgers refused to blame his own players for failing to beat a team who had lost seven straight league games before Saturday.
"You can't go at the players and say, 'You've had 25 shots at goal, you've had 14 shots on target, good opportunities, defended the counter-attack well and you were on the front foot for most of the game.' You've just got to give credit to Reading, and they have a goalkeeper who probably produced the best goalkeeping performance that anyone in this stadium has ever seen in their lives."
The result leaves Liverpool eight points away from fifth place in the Premier League and unlikely to qualify for Europe, but Rodgers was fairly positive about his first season at Anfield, now drawing to a close.
"There haven't been too many games when we haven't played well," he said. "I could count them on one hand. Our creativity is there, the balance is getting better, and if we can add some quality to the ranks in the summer that can take us on again."
If that felt slightly generous, it had nothing on the relentlessly uncompromising optimism of Nigel Adkins, whose team are bottom, seven points from safety with only five games left to play. "There is a positivity moving forward," the Reading manager said, not for the first time. "It's an old adage but a good one: we just focus on one game at a time."Reuse content