- Premier League
Skrtel: I had to prove people wrong
Martin Skrtel admits his love for Liverpool kept him from walking out on the club in the summer.
Defender Skrtel certainly seemed on his way after losing his place to Jamie Carragher as the retiring veteran enjoyed a swansong in the second half of last season.
He was made one of the scapegoats for the FA Cup fourth-round exit at League One Oldham at the end of January and made just five more appearances, with only two of those starts.
With the arrival of £16 million centre-back Mamadou Sakho, the experienced Kolo Toure and youngster Tiago Ilori in the summer transfer window, Skrtel's chances looked even more remote.
However, injury to Toure in September gave Skrtel, 29, a way back into the team and subsequent injuries to Daniel Agger and Sakho have led to him playing every match since then apart from, coincidentally, last month's FA Cup win over Oldham.
"It wasn't easy for me after last season because I was on the bench in the second part of the season and that was something new for me,'' said Skrtel, whose two goals in Saturday's 5-1 demolition of Arsenal enhanced their chances of securing a top-four spot.
"I would be lying if I didn't say I was thinking [about leaving] but it is not easy to leave a club like Liverpool because they are still one of the best in the world.
"After the six years I spent here it was not easy to say 'Okay, I'm leaving' but after games like Saturday's I am glad I stayed.
"Liverpool are a massive club and I just wanted to prove to people I am able to play for this club and I am happy I stayed and we will see how we go on.''
Last season the feeling was Skrtel was not the sort of player that manager Brendan Rodgers wanted to implement his build-from-the-back policy of ball playing.
There were also questions over his ability to dominate in defence but Skrtel's form this season suggests he has risen to the challenge.
"For this season I just said to myself 'I will fight and work very hard to try to show I am able to play and start the games', and it is working at the moment,'' he added.
"I will try to carry on this way until the end of the season.
"I knew the last season wasn't the best for me and I made a few mistakes and cost us some points but this season I think it is much better and I try to work very hard on staying in the team.''