Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool aren't thinking about title challenge yet
Published 20/09/2013 | 13:40
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he has not even considered the prospect of making an unexpected title challenge despite the club setting the early Premier League pace.
The Reds were the last top-flight side to surrender their 100 per cent record in Monday's 2-2 draw at Swansea but the point gained was enough to take them back to the summit.
Despite an impressive start Rodgers knows bigger tests lie ahead and he urged caution in making any snap judgements for another six matches.
But there is no doubt their early form has generated additional positivity in and around the club as they seek to secure a return to the Champions League after a four-year absence.
"I haven't even considered that (a title challenge) at all - the only focus is the next game," said Rodgers.
"We'll assess it after 10 games, see where we sit there, then the halfway point and we'll probably have a more realistic idea of where we can be.
"At this moment, we've played four - won three and drawn one - and we're in a good moment.
"There's a lot more to come. We've made a good start. People will talk that it's early stages, as will I, but these are hurdles you have to get over.
"We're on 10 points already; at the end of last season we finished on 61 points and we talked about those extra 10 points that might have taken us into the Champions League - at this early stage we've got them.
"I believe the team has still got a lot of improvements to make because of the nature of what I've seen in the games and the potential we have in the players.
"We've got to sustain that but I'm really happy that in these early stages we've shown at least potential.
"I think that potential can grow even more."
Liverpool conceded their first goals of the league campaign at the Liberty Stadium, having won their opening three matches 1-0, and their defensive record has improved since the back end of last season.
But Rodgers stressed there had been no significant change in the things he was asking the team to do and their progress, which sees them on an unbeaten league run of 12 matches spanning this campaign and the last, was more about familiarity.
"Initially when I came in last season the emphasis was on football and naturally when you come in with these sort of ideas everyone forgets about what you want defensively and focuses only on the ball," he added.
"The players have not been asked to do anything different from what we've always asked.
"There is a greater understanding of how we want to work and over a period of games we've had that resilience as well as quality in our football.
"There is great confidence within the group.
"What we're doing now is marrying together all of the qualities we work on every day, which are the football qualities, physical and mental qualities.
"That's what you need if you're going to succeed in the Premier League."
A strong defence provides the foundations for any such success and despite injuries to Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger, both first-choice selections, in the last couple of weeks the Reds boss does not believe there has been too much disruption.
New signing Mamadou Sakho was given his debut at Swansea and despite a frenetic, often haphazard, performance in the first half he settled down.
His manager predicts much greater things from the Frenchman - although he may have to wait for his Anfield debut against Southampton tomorrow as Agger is expected to be fit.
"I thought it was a good introduction for him," added the Northern Irishman.
"He came in late on and coped very well considering he hasn't played a great deal over the course of pre-season.
"Certainly before coming here his training programme hadn't been a lot either.
"He showed why he can be a real success at Liverpool and at this level - he's strong, he's quick, he's aggressive and he can pass the ball. He has got a lovely left foot and good weight in his pass.
"Once he becomes accustomed to the demands of this league, he'll slot in and do very well."