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Hansen: Second would be failure for Liverpool

ESPN staff
March 31, 2014 « We've proved we have leaders, says Wenger | Test Wayin World Cup »
Brendan Rodgers hails his dominant Liverpool side

Alan Hansen believes that finishing second in the Premier League this season would no longer qualifiy as success for Liverpool.

The club he captained to the title in 1990 - the last time they were champions - moved to the summit with six games to go after their 4-0 win over Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, and will be guaranteed the title if they win their remaining fixtures.

Brendan Rodgers says his team are playing without fear and are capable of winning the league, while captain Steven Gerrard says the side is fully focused on the title race.

Liverpool-City clash will be emotional

Liverpool have called on all sports fans to donate scarves for their tribute to the Hillsborough victims © LiverpoolFC.com
  • There will be an added poignancy to Liverpool's crucial Premier League showdown with Manchester City at Anfield on April 13, two days before the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
  • Inquests into the 96 the tragedy's fatalities have just been reopened and all games on that weekend will kick off at seven (or 37) minutes past the hour, a minute after Liverpool's tragic FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest was abandoned, to remember the fans who died in 1989.
  • Manager Brendan Rodgers a has been full of praise for the support his team have had from Liverpool fans this season - and can expect them to be in full voice once the game kicks off at Anfield.

Even Hansen, who is notoriously tough on teams, believes Rodgers' side will claim the club's first Premier League crown and urged them to seize the chance to "redefine the club's history."

But he also warned of how it will feel if they blow it because of nerves. "Anyone who says that finishing second will constitute a great season is talking rubbish," Hansen wrote in his column for The Telegraph.

"The Liverpool ethos was always to adhere to the maxim that first is first and second is nowhere and, even after a 24 year wait, that remains the case.

"A club of Liverpool's standing and history are all about winning trophies and titles, so they have to go on and win it now."

Liverpool are two points clear of second-placed Chelsea and four points clear of Manchester City, who have two games in hand. Both still have to face Rodgers's side at Anfield.

"Even I am starting to feel that Liverpool will win it this season," Hansen wrote. "I should know better because, until you have experienced and endured the pressures of a run-in, it is impossible to predict how it will go.

"From this point on, it really does become a test of nerve for everybody involved - players, coaches and supporters."

Hansen has been impressed with how Liverpool "have dealt with every big test that has been put in front of them since the turn of the year," but says the fearlessness Rodgers has spoken of is more fragile than many may think.

He wrote: "Twenty-four years is an awfully long time and the prospect of ending that agonising wait this season is why Liverpool supporters, both inside Anfield and across the globe, are beginning to believe that this will finally be their year.

"It is difficult to explain how the pressure takes hold, but the hardest title to win is the first one and Liverpool have to overcome that.

"It is a two-way fight between City and Liverpool and the game between the clubs at Anfield on April 13 will be monumental. Liverpool's problem is managing the expectation that has rocketed in recent weeks.

"At some point, players will become scared because the title will feel so close that a setback here or there will inevitably spark negative thoughts."

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