Brendan Rodgers has claimed his coaching methods have restored value to Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and José Enrique at Liverpool and have assumed greater importance due to restrictions on the transfer budget.
The Liverpool manager says his ability to develop players was a prime reason he was hired by Fenway Sports Group and believes the squad has improved in the first six months of his tenure. He has cited the threesome as evidence of progress at Anfield, with the trio having endured underwhelming spells before returning to the first-team picture in recent months.
Downing, a £20m signing from Aston Villa by Kenny Dalglish, whom FSG hopes will return to Liverpool in an ambassador's role, was told he could leave by Rodgers late last year before producing a marked improvement in form. Henderson was offered to Fulham in a proposed deal for Clint Dempsey in the summer but has impressed of late and José Enrique has recaptured his initial Liverpool form after a sudden dip at the start of last year.
Rodgers, who faces Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, said: "It is all about the materials. I am not a magician. I will be able to improve players – that is my work and I have confidence in that. If I look at the first six months, I believe there has been improvement in a lot of the players. I will be able to rinse everything that I possibly can out of them, but the bottom line is about talent. If you don't initially have that then it can be difficult. That is also why I was brought in here, because we will get talents and we will try to maximise what we can out of players."You look at Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and José Enrique since the start of the season and we have added value back to them. Absolutely. That is the job of the manager and the coach, as well as winning games. My job is to improve players in every aspect of their game and that is something we will look to do because we don't have the resources of the top clubs who are out there paying big money. We won't have that. So we have to find the difference through coaching."
Liverpool have signed Daniel Sturridge for £12m since the transfer window reopened and Rodgers, though he is hoping for further additions such as Blackpool's Thomas Ince, admits funds are limited at Anfield.
He added: "We will always be governed by budget, always be governed by restrictions on certain things within the club because if you haven't got the money you can't spend it. Then you have to work with the players you have and I have done that throughout my life. I will always push to get the best possible squad we can here but the most important thing at the minute is putting in place the philosophy and model that will allow us to improve players."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Bernard C