Mental toughness can't be measured in terms of chances created and expected goals, but Liverpool's progress in this area since last season is undeniably huge. The stats may offer other reasons for what the team are achieving this season, but given the many choruses of "We would have lost this game last year" after each thoroughly ground out win against lesser opposition, it's fair to say the team's self-confidence deserves as least as much credit as all the measurable reasons.
Brendan Rodgers has sung the praises of the club's psychologist, Dr Steve Peters, on countless occasions. Peters' impact was palpable right from the start, and it's only become more pronounced as the season progresses. But Peters isn't working with the entire first-team, just individual players who might want to partake of his services, and yet this has been enough to make an impact across the board.
"We have a great professional team behind the team here," Rodgers said of his backrooom staff. "As a manager you only know 90%, you can't know everything, and it's very important you have the team around you to fill those gaps.
"Every club I've been at I've always worked with a neurologist or sports psychologist. Coming to Liverpool it was important we got in the best. When I first met Steve he was not sure about football because he'd always been kept at arm's length and the experiences he'd had in football very briefly were not very good. We asked him to come and it's worked extremely well. He and I have a very close relationship in terms of the importance of the role."
Fully integrating the psychologist into the club structure — as if it's a bit of optional training for those who want to further develop their game — is paying dividends on the pitch in a way it wouldn't if Peters were seen as an outsider to the regular goings on at the club. That Rodgers and Peters have a close relationship shouldn't be surprising to anyone who has watched Liverpool this season.
"Often in football mental skills get forgotten about," Rodgers continued, "but, for me, they are the key to winning. Steve's a genius in that field and such an understanding guy. He's also great for me to bounce ideas off because command can be lonely."
Early in his tenure, rumours circulated about Rodgers refusing to work with a Director of Football position, yet the manager has frequently demonstrated that he wants to surround himself with the best and the brightest, ego be damned. His recruitment of a professional like Peters or even the return of his predecessor Kenny Dalglish show he's not territorial about the team or has any intent to shape the club into "his" club.
With Peters' success at Liverpool generating curiosity across the league, it's no wonder that he's been asked to work with the England national team ahead of the World Cup or that other clubs have been looking to secure his services. But Peters is in no danger of being poached by a rival, Rodgers confirmed, as he's very happy in his current role at Liverpool. Long may his good work continue.