Brendan Rodgers believes his Liverpool side can harness the emotions swirling around Anfield as the club looks to win their first English football title of the Premier League era.
This week marked the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster which killed 96 Liverpool fans, with the Reds two points clear at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s match at Norwich.
Rodgers, who spoke at the Anfield memorial service on Tuesday, said on Friday: “I’ve got an incredible bunch of players that work tirelessly every day. They’re very focused and concentrated on the job we want to do.
“Of course at this part of the season it can bring stress but we use the stress as a determination. It’s also an opportunity to show that you can fight.
“If ever I learnt that, it was this week with the memorial that took place. A wonderful service and the many people that inspired us that under the most stressful circumstances you can fight and use it as a determining factor to succeed,” the Northern Irishman added after a lengthy campaign by victims’ families recently led to the opening of a new inquest.
Last week’s victory over title rivals Manchester City was seen by many as a key moment in the Premier League season.
Afterwards Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, whose 10-year-old cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley was the youngest of those who died at Hillsborough, was in tears as he gave a rousing speech to his team-mates.
“I thought it was great because it encapsulated a lot of what the message has been from myself right the way through the season,” said Rodgers.
“It was great that Stevie directly after the game was pulling the players together and saying it’s about the next game.
“Everyone knows what I think of Steven and the importance that he has to us.
“What I will reiterate, because people might have looked at that and saw that Stevie is the captain leading the troops — that was for the club, that was for the team. He really is a selfless player.
“Many people might have looked at that and felt it was Steven Gerrard really desperate to win the league. Of course he is, but he’s a wonderful ambassador for this club and his message for the team was the message that I’ve relayed all season.
“We just look forward. We’ll have plenty of time to reflect at the end of the season but we don’t now. We’ve just got to focus on the next game, which is Norwich.”
Victory over City made it 10 wins in a row and left Liverpool eyeing their first English title since they were crowned champions of the old First Division in 1990.
“We’ve been asked questions, in particular over these last three months when we’ve played big games,” said Rodgers.
“Every game we’ve gone into, away from home or at home against a big team, this was always going to be the test and the challenge of can we deal with the pressure. And I think the players have been magnificent in their response to that.
“We’ll just continue along that road. We’ve got a real work ethic here. The environment is set up for elite players and the elite players at this moment in time are showing to be the best.
“But we certainly don’t have our hands up in the air. The finish line’s still a wee bit out.
“We just need to focus and keep producing the performances that we have, showing the character we have and, if we can do that, we’ll hopefully take three points at the weekend.”