Carnlough man Brendan Rodgers used the words of the Hillsborough justice campaigner Margaret Aspinall to focus his players ahead of Sunday’s game at Carrow Road, he revealed after the match.
This was the week of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, in which her son, James, was killed and Aspinall, who chairs the Hillsborough Family Support Group, spoke at the anniversary commemorations at Anfield on Tuesday.
“We had the memorial service this week, that was really touching and there was hope for the families there as well,” Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, said. “I used some words of Margaret Aspinall, we put them up on the wall. She said that ‘stress is difficult – but stress is also good. It gives you a determination to fight’.” The words were put up in three languages so that all players could understand.
“Those were the words,” said Rodgers, “that we gave the players today before the game. We stuck them up on the wall. It is a club that’s really one club at this moment in time, and we will fight to achieve the ultimate goal.”Although Rodgers was reluctant to talk about the Premier League title itself, he said that the glory days of Liverpool were on their way back. “It is brilliant to see,” he said, asked about the banners at the training ground in recent weeks. “It’s like being back a few years, really, the welcome we got in the last home game. The support has been given hope, really. I think they are really proud to watch the team attack and play with the verve that they have. There is a lot of nostalgia.”
Liverpool could even win the title next weekend, when they are at home to Chelsea, but Rodgers was keener to talk about other targets. “An incredible victory,” he said of his team’s success at Carrow Road, “and big congratulations to the players because we can finish no lower than third, which guarantees Champions League football. At the beginning of the season, I think everyone thought it would be a struggle for us to get fourth.
“We have got other goals. It is 96 goals we have scored in the Premier League this season. When I arrived 20 months ago, the team had 47. We want to be one of the very few teams that reached 100-plus goals in a season. We still have other objectives, but we have cemented the first, which was to qualify for the Champions League, and then we look forward to next weekend.”
Neil Adams, the Norwich City caretaker manager, was proud of his team’s fightback: “I was delighted with the second-half performance, it was a phenomenal response, we were looking at potentially a heavy defeat. At 2-0, the world and its dog probably thinks that’s it, it’s five or six, but we came back into it.
“We had to shake them up at half-time. To a man, in the second half, it was a fantastic effort and we were desperately unlucky not to get something from the game.”
Norwich’s last three games are away at Manchester United and at Chelsea before they host Arsenal on the final day, and Adams said he did not know how many points they would need: “However many points we need, three, four, six or nine, the way results are going, to put a target on it would be foolish. Results are just happening.
“Supporters, week in week out, are with us all the way. We have to reciprocate that, we have to give everything that we’ve got on the field.”