Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson claims the Reds’ football is still as good as it ever was, and slammed criticism of their attackers as "nonsense".
Jurgen Klopp’s men sit second in the Premier League having won seven and drawn two of their nine league games this season, and go into Wednesday evening’s Champions League clash at home to Red Star Belgrade as huge favourites.
But they have faced criticism in some quarters for not being able to reproduce the flowing football that saw them reach last season’s Champions League final.
Writing in his captain’s column in the Red Star match programme, Henderson hit back.
Here’s what he said in full.
“I know there is a lot of discussion externally at the moment about how we are getting results and comparisons being made to previous Liverpool sides of the last few years.
“Just to be clear, as the gaffer has said repeatedly, it’s not a case of looking to sacrifice adventure and attack to become more solid.
"In fact, I think some of the football we have played so far this season has been as good as anything at this stage of a campaign I’ve been involved with.
“From my position on the pitch I have a pretty decent view of what is happening ahead of me and the shift the front lads are putting in means we set the tone for a more solid approach.
"I really don’t buy into the talk that they’re not as fluid as they were last season – that’s nonsense for me.
“Of course we know we need to improve, but that should be a given regardless. So far we’ve been unlucky in front of goal, but again that’s common in the first few months of a season.
"I think back to the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. We were as incisive and creative as in any big game I can remember, but the chances didn’t quite fall or their keeper produced a ‘worldie’.
“This is the stage of the season where you are finding rhythm and fluency, where you’re getting right into the groove.
"But I think we have taken steps forward, as a team and squad, when it comes to maturity in game management and making sure we make better decisions, individually and collectively, at crucial points in matches in order to see them through.
“Under the gaffer and his staff, we’re always being given messages and lessons to learn in training, but it’s our job as players to then ensure that’s delivered in a match environment.
"What is important is that credit for the improvement in maturity and game-management is shared around the entire team and that includes our attacking players as much as anyone else.
“I remember when we were under severe criticism in recent seasons for the supposed defensive issues.
”The gaffer was always insistent that every player on the pitch was responsible for the good and the bad – both in an attacking and defensive sense.
“I keep hearing, including from friends and family, people saying, ‘You wouldn’t have won that game last season…’
“Although that’s hypothetical, it’s hard to argue with it. It’s not that we’ve changed anything fundamental in approach or preparation – I just think we have grown and developed as a team together, through work at Melwood and through shared experiences on the pitch.
“We attack as a team and we defend as a team and that is where we have matured without doubt.
“But – and this is important – it’s still only a start and we know we must maintain this approach if a good start is to go on and become a good first half of the season and then, most importantly, a good end.”
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