‘Stay humble, stay focused and work even harder’ is how Jordan Henderson believes Liverpool will approach the start of the 2020-21 season.
The Reds kick off the new term with an Anfield encounter against Leeds United this evening as they begin their defence of the Premier League title.
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The message from Melwood has been consistent – and Henderson has echoed the sentiment that past achievements will have no influence on what unfolds this time around.
Indeed, the captain insists only by working even harder will Liverpool have an opportunity for further success.
Writing in his first programme notes of 2020-21, Henderson stated: “When I think back to what has served us well in the past, it’s been that mindset to only focus on what’s immediately in front of you. As a player that starts with training. Turn up at Melwood each day and be ready to work. Eat the right things, listen to the medical staff and fitness coaches to do the right preparation and then treat each session as an opportunity to be better and learn as much as you can.
“With matches it’s about keeping the focus entirely on the here and now. What can I affect now? What impact can I have in this exact moment to help the team?
“Don’t look beyond the immediate challenge, only think about winning the things you can in this exact moment. This means focusing entirely on winning your first tackle, making your first pass, winning the header, being faster and stronger than your opponent in those individual tussles, being competitive in those personal battles and collective ones.
“It’s part and parcel of our professional lives that so much external emphasis will be placed on looking ahead, making predictions and setting expectations. It’ll be exactly the same for Leeds United, I’m sure. They enjoyed a fantastic season and were worthy champions in their league. It was a brilliant achievement for them, but I’m sure it wasn’t that long after they were being asked to predict how this next season would go, how would they compete in the Premier League and so on.
“As I’ve said, it’s fine for people externally to debate and discuss this – it’s what makes football such an engrossing topic. But as players it is your responsibility to deliver on the pitch and you have to block out any distractions that don't help.
“Along with Leeds, we’ve had nice things said and written about us in the past weeks and months, and of course in those moments it’s good. But none of it matters or helps when the whistle goes this afternoon to begin this new campaign. All 20 teams start on the same number of points – zero. Nothing from the past season is carried over. And that suits us just fine.
“I look at our team and a defining feature is we have all scrapped and fought for everything we have in our professional lives. Nothing has been given to anyone in our dressing room. Nothing has been easy. Everything has been earned. So that makes it possible to keep the mentality fixed on improvement and pushing ourselves at all times.
“Working harder is the only way for us, whether we are in a good moment or a bad moment. You get through difficult moments if you work harder – and you make good moments better if you work hard.
“The gaffer talks about the importance of staying humble, as individuals, as a team and as a club. Part of staying humble is recognising that this season begins with everyone in exactly the same position.
“We have no advantage over Leeds today before a whistle is blown. If we want an advantage in the game – on the pitch – we have to go and earn it. As I said at the beginning of this column, everything is reset to zero.
“If we want to create special memories, they need to be earned, one challenge at a time, one sprint at a time, one save at a time and one battle at a time. It is right to be optimistic about what is ahead for us, but that feeling is built on a belief that we will indeed stay humble and stay focused.”
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