BRENDAN RODGERS BELIEVES Liverpool’s ruthless FA Cup victory at Bournemouth demonstrates how far his side have come since last season’s shock exit at the hands of League One minnows Oldham.
Rodgers’ team claimed a place in the fifth round after safely negotiating a testing trip, eventually overcoming Eddie Howe’s battling Championship side 2-0 thanks to goals from Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge yesterday.
It was a far cry from the tame performance Liverpool produced in their loss to Oldham at the same stage of the competition 12 months ago.
And Reds manager Rodgers believes the comparison between his side’s cup campaign this year and last term highlights the improvement amongst his squad.
“There have been lots of games recently that take me back to a year ago and there are games we might have lost a year ago,” Rodgers said.
“We are really improving not only in our football idea but also the character within the team. So we are showing a lot of good traits and the way we stepped up the tempo in the second half was very important.”
Rodgers fielded a strong side even though they face a crucial Merseyside derby against Everton in midweek and he believes the win justified his gamble.
“We have a very thin squad and we have had injuries,” Rodgers added. “But the tradition of the FA cup at Liverpool is huge and we want to pay respect to that and to the competition because we want to get to the final and win it if we can.
“So the players are fit enough, there is enough recovery time. They have everything to recover and we go into Tuesday’s game on the back of a good win.”
Reds centre-back Martin Skrtel suffered a badly cut head but should be fit to face Everton.
“Martin Skrtel had staples in his head so he might have to grow some hair now. He’ll be okay for Tuesday,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers also insisted he has not yet given up hope of making more signings before the transfer window shuts on Friday, despite seeing his top target, Mohamed Salah of Basel, snatched away by Chelsea.
“He was obviously a player we were interested in and we hoped we could do a deal but as of yet, there has been nothing done on it,” he said.
“The club is still looking at players we can bring in to strengthen. It’s a difficult market.
“The players have taken us this far already. They have been outstanding this season so we will enter into the last games with confidence if we have the same players.
“The window’s not closed yet so we haven’t given up.”
Rodgers also paid tribute to Bournemouth’s eye-catching passing game and the style of play they have developed under Howe, the highly-regarded 36-year-old Bournemouth manager.
“Bournemouth deserve credit for the way they play the game,” he said.
“Eddie Howe has a similar philosophy to myself and it’s not easy when you are a young manager to stick your head out and get your teams to pass the ball.
“In this country it’s deemed too nice. But that’s why we cry and complain we don’t have players who are technically good enough when we get to World Cups
“It is coaches like Eddie Howe who will take the game forward in this country.”