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Rodgers: "We Are Not Thinking About the Top Four"

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After spending much of the season insisting the top four was within reach, Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool appear to have belatedly bought into the wisdom of only worrying about the next match.

Chris Brunskill

With Arsenal stumbling against Tottenham over the weekend while the madhouse atmosphere at Chelsea only grows worse with fans in open revolt against manager Rafa Benitez, it's almost a surprise to find Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers talking down his side's chances of a top four finish.

The reality, of course, suggests that even if Liverpool are finally over their growing pains under their new manager, they've left it far too late to challenge for the Champions League. Short of a run of title-winning form over the remaining ten games, at least, those dreams are well and truly done.

Still, a top four challenge seemed nearly as unlikely for the club throughout December and January, and at the time everyone from the manager through to the tea lady was talking about it as though it was somehow a reasonable goal. Just maybe, though, Rodgers has finally learned his lesson.

"We are not thinking about [the top four]," he insisted. "All we are looking at this moment in time is the next game—that is what we spoke about. We have played well a lot of this season, what has got us behind has been individual errors.

"Yesterday I could see the graft the players are doing on the training field being taken onto the pitch. There was a real focus and concentration in our performance. They are [becoming] accustomed to how we are asking them to press as a team high up the pitch and when to drop in and build a block and control the game. That was wonderful for us."

Taking things one game at a time is a mantra shared by almost every successful side regardless of league or country or even sport, and after months where Liverpool's talk of season-defining goals became painfully unavoidable it's oddly comforting to see Rodgers and his charges belatedly embracing such an approach.

"We have to give great credit to the players because it is very easy, especially after getting knocked out of the Europa League, to feel sorry for ourselves. We will focus on finishing as high as we can and look to finish the season strongly."

If Liverpool can find a way to get through the penultimate game of the season having gone on a title-winning run of form over their previous ten matches then just maybe it will be time to talk about the top four. Until then, best just take things one game at a time.

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