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Searching For Purpose

It may be a mere bagatelle, placed yet further into stark perspective by the moving events at Anfield yesterday, but the final league placing of Liverpool Football Club is still on the minds of players like Stewart Downing and Pepe Reina.

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Jasper Juinen

If I was looking for a celebrity mate to jolly me out of a funk and apply the soothing balm of levity to my troubled spirit, Jose Pepe Reina would be my go-to-guy. I mean, just look at the man. He's the embodiment of masculine, Iberian ebullience and brio. No problem would stump Pepe. He'd just bear-hug it away, raise a quizzical eyebrow, buy a round of shots and get a conga line going at the same time.

It's no major slight to the chap, to say that I wouldn't place Stewart Downing in that kind of fantasy best-mate category and yet, as the season lurches towards it's staggeringly underwhelming conclusion, he and Reina are unlikely bedfellows, both of them espousing a policy of positivity and rigourous focus on each of the five remaining matches.

Speaking in the wake of the away draw at Reading, Reina was professionalism itself, insisting that there will be "no shortage of motivation" and narrowing the focus to the task at hand.

"There are still 15 points to play for and it's vitally important that we finish the season well. We need to make sure that we are focused on the games that we've got remaining and we need to end the season with a winning mentality. That will be important in terms of next season."

Reina was almost absurdly on-message, as he insisted that the players were not mentally on a beach in St. Tropez, but rather, completely devoted to wringing the maximum out of each remaining game. He sounded excited and motivated by the challenges left in the campaign.

"Look at the games we've got left - Chelsea and Everton at home, Newcastle away - those kind of matches are a motivation for any player and even more so when you are wearing a Liverpool shirt. We need to get some wins. If that gets us into Europe, then good, but we need those wins for our pride. Whenever yo get the opportunity to play for this club, you need to give 100% in every game and try to win them all."

I'm not sure if I'm more enthused by Reina's ardour or the fact that, unlike his manager, he seems to understand the rudiments of mathematics and percentages.

In conversation with, Stewart Downing carried a similarly upbeat message to the fans. Downing has suffered more slings and arrows than most, but a combination of his own efforts and his manager's stubborn faith, have seen the winger become a serviceable member of the first team squad.

"We won't let the season peter-out. The manager certainly won't let that happen. He has stressed that we keep going right to the end and see what happens. There are going to be slip-ups along the way, but it's going to be tough for us, there's no hiding that."

Brendan Rodgers would be proud of this kind of pragmatic yet positive outlook which has, all too recently, become his own mantra.

"This season was always going to be a transition time, with new ideas and players. next season is a big test for us. The manager has most of the players he wants and we have to crack on."

And there, hidden behind the warm glow of optimism, is the harsh gleam of reality. Does Rodgers really have most of the players he wants? Does this mean that the summer of 2013 will not see an influx of world-class talent to Anfield? What are we to amuse ourselves with, if not utterly redundant exchanges as to who is more of a Liverpool player, Superstar X or Superstar Y?

This is why you couldn't trust Stewart Downing with your stag party - the man's a buzzkill.

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