Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his players now feel comfortable with his style of play and that is being reflected in results.
Progress into the quarter-finals of the Europa League at the expense of arch-rivals Manchester United after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford – and 3-1 aggregate win – means they have not lost in 90 minutes since early February.
Included in that sequence is the Capital One Cup final penalty shoot-out defeat to Manchester City and a last-minute FA Cup loss at West Ham but also takes in wins over City and United.
Klopp believes momentum has been generated by a greater understanding of his tactics and not merely an improvement in confidence.
“The problem with confidence is it is like a little flower: if you step on it, it is away in a second – it is much more difficult to let it grow than to let it die,” said the German.
“It is not only about confidence, it is more about feeling more and more trust in our way of play.
“I don’t know in this moment how much we ran yesterday but especially in the first game it was really intensive but only 112 kilometres [were covered by the players].
“When I started here it was 119, 120 and we didn’t win.
“The only reason for counter-pressing is to win the ball back as quick as possible otherwise you have to make too many kilometres and that makes no sense.
“This is a real development and that is more important than confidence because the players have quality and we always have an offensive line up so it is important we feel better in this style of play.”
Progression against United was seen as a significant moment in Liverpool’s season, with a return to Premier League action next at Southampton on Sunday.
And the good news continues with defender Jon Flanagan on the verge of signing a new contract. The 23-year-old academy graduate’s current deal expires in the summer after he was given only a one-year extension following 20 months out with a knee problem.
“I was a little bit involved in these negotiations,” said Klopp, who was always keen to retain the services of the Liverpool-born right-back.
“It is good for us but I think in this special case, with his long injury, it is better for Flanno.
“There are a few other full-backs in the world but not so many Scousers and not so many came back after a difficult injury.
“He is our boy and we are really happy to have him here.”
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