Rodgers: Reina deserves to shine

Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina is getting his just rewards by rediscovering his best form.

Last Updated: 09/03/13 at 13:41 Post Comment

Jose Reina: Work ethic has impressed Rodgers

Jose Reina: Work ethic has impressed Rodgers

Liverpool striker and Barclays Premier League top scorer Luis Suarez may be getting the plaudits but goalkeeper Jose Reina is starting to prove his worth to the side again.

Manager Brendan Rodgers believes the Spain international, whose form has been inconsistent in the last 18 months, is now reaping the benefits of the hard work he has put in.

It was no more evident than in the 4-0 win at Wigan last weekend when, despite the ease of victory, had it not been for two brilliant saves the result would have at the very least been less convincing.

Throughout this season Reina has been linked with a summer move away, with Arsenal and Barcelona two clubs reportedly in the frame, but Rodgers has always insisted the 30-year-old remains a key figure.

"Pepe has made comments himself that, at times, he can be better but what I know I get from Pepe is he always gives his best," said the Reds boss.

"He's not immune to mistakes. We've seen throughout the season, not just with Pepe, many goalkeepers make a mistake and unfortunately for them it can prove costly.

"In his performance last week he made outstanding saves at critical moments of the game.

"His preparation has been spot-on, he's training well and working very hard - he's now starting to get the rewards for that.

"He's still a young man: at 30 years of age, you can still improve. Look at the likes of Edwin van der Sar, who played until he was 40 at the top level.

"Goalkeepers can go on that bit longer - as long as the preparation is right and they focus and want to do better.

"There's no reason why Pepe Reina can't."

Liverpool's last two league matches have seen them score nine and concede none and their wins since December 22 - 4-0, 3-0, 3-0, 5-0, 5-0, 4-0 - suggest when they get things right they tend to do very well.

Their problem has been consistency and in the last two months they have lost at home to West Brom and squandered winning positions against Arsenal and Manchester City, both as a result of mistakes.

However, Rodgers believes the defence is not as shaky as those results suggest.

"We're up to 11 clean sheets now, which is up there with the top teams in the league (bettered only by City)," he added.

"Defensively we've looked strong, the balance in the team has been good and Reina's been a big part of that."

Another key component of that backline is veteran Jamie Carragher, who has started the last seven league matches as he edges towards retirement at the end of the season.

On Sunday he will become only the second Liverpool player after Ian Callaghan to make his 500th league appearance - and 729th of his 16-year Reds career - when Tottenham visit Anfield.

"It's a remarkable effort to play that number of games at this level - huge applause to him and great credit to his professionalism," Rodgers said.

"He's a remarkable professional, how he's looked after himself all his life.

"You play for a club like Liverpool and the pressures are near enough incomparable to most other clubs.

"To be here for this length of time and commit yourself to the cause - being a local boy as well - be as successful as he has been and still at 35 be an outstanding performer shows the impact he has made as a footballer.

"He's very focused on the last games and I hope he can continue with the form he has shown since he was brought into the team recently."

Liverpool face the prospect of handling a red-hot Gareth Bale but Rodgers is keen to focus on his side and the progress they have made.

"Bale is a phenomenal player both for his club and his country and now he is at the top of his game," he said.

"We will always prepare but they have other good players as well and we will analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the team - but for us the main concern is ourselves and bringing our own game into it.

"We've played 28 games: after 14 games we were 12th in that first period but if you take the points total for the following 14 we would be third in the league.

"It is going how I felt it would go, which would be improvement as the players became accustomed.

"There has been some pain along the way but that was always going to happen this year."


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