Brendan Rodgers throws down the gauntlet to Chelsea and Manchester City
Brendan Rodgers had that glint in his eye again on Sunday -- that sparkle we’ve seen so many times this season when discussing Liverpool’s aspirations with reporters in post-match interviews.
It’s a look that is typically combined with carefully chosen words, no doubt rehearsed in front of the mirror the night before. On Sunday, however, the glint was accompanied by a bit more than mere quiet confidence.
The Reds flat-out embarrassed Tottenham yesterday, cruising to a 4-0 victory at Anfield. It was the second shellacking Spurs suffered at the hands of Rodgers this season, having lost 5-0 at White Hart Lane on December 15th. Those are the exact kind of results that epitomize the season for Liverpool: they score goals in buckets and are all to happy to do it against other top sides (Arsenal, Everton, Manchester United) in the league.
Rodgers’ knew this earlier in the season when he would answer questions about Liverpool’s Champions League ambitions and he knew it yesterday when he responded to inquiries of Liverpool’s title chances.
“There is no doubt they [City and Chelsea] understand this is going to be a real tough place to come,” the 41-year-old said when asked about the two most difficult matches left in Liverpool’s schedule.
“We love playing here and the support [against Spurs] was incredible – that’s as good as I’ve heard at Anfield since I’ve been here – and it’s only going to intensify,” Rodgers said keeping his poise with his eyes flashing wildly.
Then, seemingly unable to contain his excitement over the fact that if the Reds win out their remaining games the title is theirs, Rodgers dropped the hammer: “We respect Chelsea, they have a world-class manager and top players, and City are one of the new superpowers of European football, but we feel we can win any game. We have a lot of hunger and our confidence and belief is high.”
In the world of Premier League managers, the honesty and force of Rodgers’ words should not be undervalued. While Manuel Pellegrini will bore us with aloof answers spoken through bloodshot eyes and Jose Mourinho will cover up reality with mind games until the cows come home, it’s refreshing to see that Rodgers has the testicular fortitude to come correct.
Consider the gauntlet thrown.