Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Toure motivated by perfect start

Kolo Toure says team spirit is key to Liverpool

Liverpool defender Kolo Toure is not surprised by the Reds' start to the season and believes being top of the table only provides more motivation.

Brendan Rodgers' side are the only Premier League team with a 100 per cent record and while it is still very early days, the Ivory Coast international thinks the signs are encouraging.

"[Looking at the table] motivates us to do more," said the summer free signing from Manchester City.

"I'm not surprised because of the effort we put in during pre-season and the commitment of the players every day in training.

"We've been working so hard and everybody is really focused - the young players and the experienced players.

"The manager is doing a great job, all the staff are working really hard. We need to carry on doing that and the results will come."

Toure missed the victory over Manchester United last time out because of injury and watched from the sidelines as his replacement Martin Skrtel put in an impressive performance in his first game of the season.

But while competition for places at centre-back have increased following the signings of Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori, Toure insisted that did not affect morale within the dressing room.

"Skrtel had a fantastic game and we worked as a team really well. That is great for the team spirit of the group," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"It's key. With team spirit, you can win anything. Individuals are very important but team spirit is the key - it is the most important thing.

"Individuals can win you one game, but to win trophies or be champions it is a group of players.

"If you want to be successful, you need to work as a team. That is really important because we are a group of players and we have the same target - to win trophies and do as well as we can.

"When you don't play, you need to support the team and your team-mates need to feel that you are behind them fully."

Toure's joy at the victory over United was evident as he made his way down from the directors' box to celebrate with players on the pitch.

And while his influence at the back has been praised since his arrival to fill the boots of the recently-retired Jamie Carragher, the 32-year-old admitted he gained a lot of confidence from the win over their arch-rivals.

"United was a big game but at the end of the day we won the game and that calmed me down because I saw the team played very well, dominated and controlled the game very well," he added.

"When you can't play but still see your team win, that helps you to become calmer."

Away from the pitch, principal owner John Henry has offered reassurances finances are in place for the club to push on with their stadium redevelopment once the planning authorities give the go-ahead.

Henry's Fenway Sports Group has been looking for some time to increase Anfield's capacity - reportedly at a cost of around £154million - and the American says Liverpool City Council has made "good progress" in purchasing the few remaining privately-owned properties around the stadium in order to enable the Main Stand to be expanded.

Planning permission will only be sought once all deals are finalised, and Henry believes that - rather than the financing - remains the biggest hurdle.

Quoted in the Liverpool Echo, he said: The previous regime (Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr) were talking about going out and borrowing an enormous amount of money to build an enormous new facility. That's not what we're doing.

"One of their problems was that they weren't able to get financing. When this (project) happens, financing won't be the problem.

"We just need certainty with regard to these properties and the number of properties that are in question keeps getting reduced."

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