Any outside hope of a coveted top-four slot almost certainly vanished on Sunday when the Reds failed to overcome a dogged West Ham outfit at Anfield. It is not exactly what was envisaged when Rodgers was installed as manager to replace Kenny Dalglish last summer. But Johnson insists there has been a marked improvement. “Brendan was brought in to rebuild the squad and put Liverpool back into the places that it should be,” said the 28-year-old. Press Association “This season has been a step closer to that. Eight times out of 10 we have dominated games. Sometimes, like against West Ham, we haven’t come away with the points that we deserve. We have battered teams but if we don’t get that early goal, it has given them encouragement.” Statistics back up Johnson’s argument to an extent. An eighth-placed finish last term is likely to become seventh at worst this, and no one at Anfield is giving up on hauling back Everton’s present three-point advantage on the run-in. With 49 points, the Reds are now just three adrift of the tally Kenny Dalglish collected last term, and relegation-threatened Reading and QPR are among their final six opponents. Yet Dalglish won the League Cup last year, and reached the FA Cup final, leaving the actual progress made under Rodgers open to interpretation. “Brendan wants to put us back in the top four but he wasn’t asked to do that in his first season,” said Johnson. “If we improve on last season then it is a step in the right direction, and we have definitely done that. It’s a few things. Look at the squad, the feeling there is around the place, the football we are playing. We won a trophy last season and of course that was fantastic. Everyone wants to win; that’s what we are in the game for. “But in terms of getting Liverpool back where they belong, we want to be back in the top four.” And Johnson is convinced the improvement will continue next season. “I wouldn’t say it has been a season when we have been so close but so far,” said Johnson. “It is clearly a better season than the last one. Brendan will look to improve again in the summer and if we can start nicking the goals we need from games like West Ham, we will be right in amongst it.” Liverpool defender Glen Johnson insists the club have moved forward under Brendan Rodgers.
The Belgium international landed on Merseyside for a flying visit from his homeland on Wednesday to finalise a five-year contract after a £28million deal – believed to be a £25million fee with subsequent add-ons – was agreed with Chelsea. Everton’s previous record was the £15million paid to Standard Liege in 2006 for midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who moved on to Manchester United last summer for £28million. Martinez stressed, however, the player will not carry that burden into the dressing room. “Rom is vitally important but his transfer fee will not count for anything in terms of him developing and having an important role in the side,” said the Spaniard. “This dressing room has got a special feeling and it is not about how much you pay for players to come in, it is about selecting the players to be in there. “We really needed Rom at the club and that is where the chairman (Bill Kenwright) and the board have been exceptional, and I do think it is a key moment at our club. “I am looking at that number nine position – and I am probably biased – but he is potentially the best choice in world football. “In years to come you will see him develop into someone special, but nothing changes for Rom. “He needs to enjoy his football, have the same standards he had and I am excited to see how far Rom can take us and how far we can take Rom. “That is the partnership we can see here. Press Association Everton may have smashed their transfer record to sign striker Romelu Lukaku but manager Roberto Martinez insists the fee is irrelevant if the player fulfils his potential. “It is true this moment in Rom’s career is very significant because he is very ambitious, he wants to be successful and win things and wants to develop to the top of his potential. “That is what we want to be as a team, so it is a perfect fit.” Lukaku said he is comfortable with the transfer fee and intends to provide the goals, having scored 16 in 33 appearances on loan at Goodison Park last season, to help fire the club into the Champions League. Asked how long it could be until the Toffees were playing alongside Europe’s elite, the Belgian said: “If we continue to develop like we did last season very soon. “I wanted to stay in the Premier League because it is the most attractive league in the world and also the best. “For me it was easy to stay here and help the team reach that level. “I think the club wants to make a statement and I want to help the club to make a statement in this league. “I don’t put myself under pressure and just want to help my team-mates make this team as good as possible.” Martinez is still keen to add more signings, having already secured another loan player Gareth Barry on a permanent deal and also brought in £4million midfielder Muhamed Besic. However, he may now have to rely on loan signings – the Toffees have been linked with a temporary deal for Chelsea’s Christian Atsu – having used most of his transfer budget to secure Lukaku. “I said before we signed Rom we need three attacking players and that has not changed,” said the Everton boss. “I always said money shouldn’t be the difference between being able to challenge or not. “It excites me when I see the side we have. Maybe some have the excuse of having to have a certain amount of money to challenge for titles, but I don’t look at it that way.”
The season’s final match supported by Star Lager, the official beer partner of NPFL ensured that thousands of fans at the league title deciding game had a memorable time participating in various activities at the stadium.Commenting on plans by Star to further consolidate the NPFL partnership, Portfolio Manager, National Premium, Nigerian Breweries, Tokunbo Adodo, explained the final match in Enugu was an opportunity to celebrate fans as well as the participating teams in this league season.“Let me begin by congratulating the winner and of course other teams in the league season which has ended today. As the official beer partner of the NPFL, Star is committed to fulfilling the mandates obligated by the agreement to make the league more exciting for fans and lovers of football in Nigeria. We’ve had an outstanding association with supporting good football experience and by virtue of all existing partnership, millions of fans can enjoy better quality in the round leather game on NPFL match days next season” Adodo said.Chairman, League Management Company (LMC), Shehu Dikko said the partnership is beginning to resonate with the league, in particular, football fans.“The season has gone a lot better than we envisaged. We had a very competitive league, many good teams playing in ways that were appealing to Nigerian football fans. We have seen clubs administering better welfare and this will continue to improve in league seasons to come. At LMC, we are very pleased to see that our efforts to restore local footfall enthusiasm is yielding fruits, averaging several thousands of audience at each match venue. Having a partner like Star has brought a deeper engagement with football fans and their favourite league clubs” Dikko said.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram The Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) ended its 2015/16 season with a resounding final match that saw Rangers International Football Club of Enugu win the league after a 4-0 trumping of El-Kanemi Warriors of Borno on Sunday 2nd October 2016 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.Rangers International’s bid to end a thirty-two year wait for the league title eventually paid off as Chisom Egbuchulam and Osas Okoro recorded their names on the score sheet to help Rangers clinch the title.