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Rodgers hails Liverpool's improvement

Updated: 2013-12-17 07:36
By Agence France-Presse in London ( China Daily)

Brendan Rodgers hailed Liverpool's 5-0 humiliation of Tottenham as his team's best performance since he took charge of the Anfield club 18 months ago.

But the manager refused to talk up his side's credentials as Premier League title challenger despite moving into second place, two points behind Arsenal.

Goals from Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson in the first half, followed by second-half strikes from Jon Flanagan, Suarez again and Raheem Sterling completed an emphatic victory over a Tottenham squad reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of Paulinho in the 62nd minute.

"It was probably the most complete performance, to come here and get a victory like that. But more importantly, the performance. The model of our game was outstanding," said Rodgers.

"We were like animals without the ball. Our hunger to get it back was great. It was a complete performance and a good victory for us."

But when asked about his side's title aspirations, the manager said: "I'm not even thinking about that. My job was to develop the style of football while moving the club forward, and that's what we've tried to do.

"Obviously you dream. That was my dream. I didn't come here to be fourth, third or second. Eventually you want to win. But you have to be realistic as well.

"We were eighth. Last year we were seventh. If we can stay clear of injury and continue to improve, let's see where it takes us."

Rodgers installed Suarez as captain in the absence of Steven Gerrard, who is sidelined with hamstring problem, and the Uruguay forward responded impressively.

"He's captained one of the most iconic clubs in European football in Ajax. It's not new to him," he said. "I wanted someone who could represent me and the club in that tunnel before we step on the pitch.

"If Luis Suarez is standing with the armband on, everyone knows this is a team that is ready to go out and fight.

"I spoke to him a few days ago and told him it was an honor for him to do, and he's really enjoyed it. He's relentless in his work. His quality and goals were fantastic."

Suarez's efforts were matched by Henderson, and Rodgers believes the England midfielder is starting to demonstrate his full potential after a slow start to his career at Liverpool following his transfer from Sunderland in 2011.

"It's all down to him. I saw him play for England against France a few years ago and I felt sorry for him - he was a big talent but the game just passed him by, tactically," said the manager.

"That wasn't his fault. I'd always heard he had a brilliant attitude to learning. Kenny (Dalglish, the former Liverpool manager who signed Henderson) didn't set the fee, but he's a young player who's eager to learn.

"He is tall, 23, physically very strong and technically sound. He's a terrific player. Just needs confidence, constant work. He's been outstanding for me."

(China Daily 12/17/2013 page23)