Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given backing to goalkeeper Jose Reina despite a shaky start to the season.
The Spaniard has had a somewhat cumbersome start to the season and has made a string of uncharacteristic mistakes, most notably against Hearts, Norwich and Arsenal. But Rodgers dismissed claims that he has cause for concern regarding his No 1.
“Pepe has been here for a number of years and has proved himself over a long period of time,” said the Liverpool boss,
“Like all the other players here he's trying to improve and become a better player.”
The 30-year-old has made 260 appearances for the Reds since his arrival in 2005. Since the departure of Kenny Dalglish, Rodgers has attempted to change the style and philosophy of Liverpool’s play – similar to that of his former club Swansea City.
But the new system has yet to pay off fully for the Red’s who currently sit 14th in the Premier League, having taken just 6 points from 7 games.
But the manager placed his full faith in his goalkeeper: “He's obviously adapting to a new style but this is a way of working which is perfect for Pepe. He came through the Barcelona model so he understands this way of playing and what I'm trying to do perfectly.”
Reina spent his youth career working his way up the ranks of the Barcelona youth system and managed to make 30 senior appearances for the club. But after the first team coach Serra Ferrer, who had initially called him up, was fired, Reina found himself demoted from the first-team.
He was subsequently loaned out in 2002 to Villarreal where he became the first choice goalkeeper and, after three years, his performances earned him the attention of former Reds manager Rafael Benitez who, at the time of his purchase, said he was “the best goalkeeper in Spain”.
However, with the likes of Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes both ahead of him in the Spain setup, Reina has made only 26 appearances for his country in 7 years.
It's heartening to show that Reina is still trying to improve and add new facets to his game. After all, 30 is a young age for a goalkeeper.
Compare him to Brad Friedel, who at 41 is still featuring regularly for Tottenham, and the stopper could yet be the foundation for Liverpool for the next decade right through past the 2022 World Cup. Now there's a thought!
image: © froderamone