Is this game still the one for you?
“Yes, definitely. Of course it is. With the rivalry and what they’ve done the last few seasons, you look at it as one of the biggest challenges of the season because we know they’re a top team and they’ve got quality, and we’ve got to play a good game to get the three points we want.”
There were two contrasting games in the space of a week in January – a 0-0 draw at Anfield and an amazing game in the FA Cup. What are you expecting? I suppose they desperately need to win if they’re to have any hope of the top four…
“So do we! [Laughs] Every time we play against Liverpool we’re desperately need to win. There’s no doubt my players will be ready and we’ll give everything. It’s just a historic, fantastic game to play in. I’ve had some good memories and bad memories, and let’s make sure this will be a good memory.”
There is a big difference in the points tally this season. We were a long way behind them last season and that’s changed dramatically this year. I suppose that shows what can happen in a year…
“We’ve improved definitely. We’re winning tight games – we’ve won them more than last year and every game in the Premier League is tight. Say there are five even games and you just tip them and you get the momentum and win four of them and draw one instead of losing four of them and drawing one of them, they’re tight moments. We’ve said it all through the season – you have to earn the points every game. It’s a big, big difference between a team in momentum and swimming against the tide.”
Finally, on fitness, we looked very fit against Roma in the second half, the same against Leeds, who are considered one of the fittest team around, and loads of our goals came in the second half – is that now the end result of a particular strategy of yours?
“It’s not the end result, but it’s the result of hard work on the training ground and discipline. The coaches have been fantastic and fitness is such an important part of being a footballer. We know they’ve got talent, but the fitter they are the more you can do. And the stronger you feel in games, then a lot of games will be decided in the last 20 minutes or something and we’ve really shown this year what we’ve built over the last few seasons.”