Liverpool FC News: THERE have been many false dawns for Liverpool this season with every morale-boosting Premier League triumph swiftly followed by a gut-wrenching low.
Consistency has eluded Roy Hodgson’s side during a roller-coaster opening four months to the campaign.
Success on home soil hasn’t been followed up on their travels and momentum has been lost.
Dirk Kuyt insists the Reds are ready to break that cycle at St James’ Park tomorrow.
Having crushed Aston Villa 3-0 at Anfield on Monday night, the Holland international believes Liverpool are now a different proposition from the team which struggled on the road at places like Wigan and Stoke.
“The shape of the team looks better now than it has done all season,” he said. “When the shape is good it’s much easier for players to reach their top level. You know what to do in every situation – both when you have the ball and when you don’t.
“It was a great result for us against Villa and confidence is high.
“The new players are clicking in very well and everyone knows what the manager expects from us now.
“Things are looking more positive. The last few homes games have gone really well for us and now it’s time to start picking up more away points.”
After a summer of turmoil with Rafa Benitez being replaced by Hodgson and numerous personnel changes, Kuyt says it was always going to take time for a new look team to gel.
The Reds’ slow start left Hodgson under fire but the 30-year-old frontman insists the manager deserves great credit for the job he’s done in testing circumstances.
Kuyt has no doubt the experienced boss’ hands on approach on the training ground is starting to pay dividends.
“It’s always hard when a new manager and new players come in but this summer it was even harder because of the World Cup,” he said.
“Myself for example, I had two weeks holiday after South Africa and then had just two weeks to get used to the manager and the things he wanted before facing Arsenal. It wasn’t easy for the manager or the players but things are better now.
“Every manager is different and has his own ideas. Roy is heavily involved in the training and takes most of the sessions.
“He lets the players know exactly what he wants from you and it’s good. He likes to see us do in training what he wants to see in the games.”
On a personal level Kuyt has endured a frustrating start to his fifth season with the club.
Twice, he’s been injured on international duty with September’s shoulder problem followed by ankle ligament damage a month later.
He returned in November’s win over Chelsea but a month on and with only two league goals under his belt Kuyt admits he has yet to reach top form.
“It’s been difficult,” he admitted. “I’m not the type of player who gets injuries and to get two in a row was tough. I got back from damaging my shoulder and then within a few weeks I hurt my ankle.
“I’m not at 100% yet but I’m working as hard as possible every day to get there. It’s only a matter of time before I click into my top level. It helps that the team is playing a lot better as that makes it easier for you as a player.”
Fernando Torres will come back into the side tomorrow after missing the win over Villa to attend the birth of his son.
Steven Gerrard won’t be considered for the trip to the North East but with the skipper close to fitness and Joe Cole also fighting for inclusion, Kuyt knows competition for places is hotting up.
“It was positive that we showed the other night we can win without Carra, Stevie and Fernando,” he said.
“Then there’s Joe Cole just coming back from injury so that’s four top quality players. When they are all back the team should get even better.
“Rivalry is good for every player – it makes you sharper. When you are playing for Liverpool Football Club you should expect to have rivalry for every position in the team.”
The Reds will face a Newcastle side still reeling from the shock dismissal of boss Chris Hughton on Monday.
Alan Pardew was announced as his successor yesterday and the former West Ham manager faces a major task winning over fans underwhelmed by his appointment.
It could be a good time to face a Magpies team without a win in five games but Kuyt is just focused on ensuring the visitors perform.
“It was a surprise that their manager was sacked but that’s football,” he said.
“It’s difficult to see what happens inside clubs when you’re not involved.
“Sometimes when a manager leaves you get a reaction from players, but then sometimes people are satisfied with the old manager. We can’t think about Newcastle, we just have to look at ourselves and make sure we are ready.”
A much improved away display at Tottenham went unrewarded a fortnight ago and Kuyt says that has set the standard on their travels.
“We played well at Spurs and deserved more,” he said. “We passed the ball wall and created enough chances to win but didn’t take them. That improvement away was the result of all the hard work we’ve done in training.
“If we play like we have done over the last few weeks we’ll have a good chance of getting a result at Newcastle. We have to play like we did at Spurs but ensure this time we get the points.”
Dirk Kuyt was speaking to mark the launch of an initiative between 188BET and Top Up TV, who are offering British fans three months of top class sports action on ESPN for free. For more information go to www.188promo.com/espn