By Kevin Koczwara
After Liverpool’s remarkable 2013-14 season and ahead of Liverpool’s upcoming North American tour, Liverpool legend Ian Rush was made available to answer questions from the media.
Liverpool will open their North American tour at the historic Fenway Park in Boston with a game against Italian giants AS Roma. Roma and Liverpool previously played one another at Fenway Park in July 2012 in front of a sellout crowd of 37,000.
This is the second time Liverpool will go to Fenway to face off against AS Roma. What was the atmosphere like for your trip with the team to the US last time?
RUSH: It was a great experience. We got to show people more about soccer. It was a great feeling. I was surprised to see how many people went to watch the game, two soccer teams playing at Fenway. But…we’re looking forward to improve on that now – improve on what we’ve done two years ago, improve on that experience.
What do you expect the reception will be this time for the club? Do you anticipate the success from the previous season has garnered you a bigger fan base in the states?
RUSH: I think it will be big. We’ve had a successful year, finished second in the league and we’re hoping to improve on that next year. …we expect to be there with supporters, [for fans] to get behind the team more than ever.
Do you guys have anything planned for your trip to Boston outside of the match?
RUSH: There will be soccer schools going on, [both paid for camps as well as events through the Liverpool FC Foundation, as we build] a lasting legacy. The local community will be there. We’ll be giving tips and offering advice. There will be different things like that going on there. That’s what we need to do. For the foundation, that’s what its all about, to keep the locals involved.
What was the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team that got Liverpool from seventh place and into the title race?
RUSH: I think we’ve made major [strides.] I think it’s the confidence of the team spirit, which the manager has installed in the players. It’s vital to have that confidence, and I think that was the difference from the last season.
What does the team need to do this summer to ensure it stays in the top four and gets in the title race next year?
RUSH: We had a great season, finished second. You look to improve on that now. Hopefully there will be a couple signers now. That’s for the manager to decide and carry on the same as last year. If we can get a stronger squad, we can compete to win the league next year.
The club won 11 games in a row, only to struggle in the final three. What has the club learned from this past year in terms of continuing momentum?
RUSH: I think maybe they got a little tired the last three games. They are gaining experience. The more games you go winning, the more pressure comes upon you. It’s a bit of experience, which you only get from learning from the past, and they are learning from the last three games. They will do that again.
What type (or specific) players should the club be looking to bring in this summer?
RUSH: The manager gets paid to do that, …you’re maybe looking to tighten the defense … we let a lot of goals in. Hopefully if you look in from that side, from the defensive side, …[we can] stop that league of goals going in next season.
What does it say about the club that it had so many English players selected to the World Cup squad?
RUSH: It just goes to show how well they’ve been playing, and they have been playing with confidence. It wasn’t in Liverpool’s side at the beginning, and at the end they are standing by the English squad. It shows how well of a season [we had], by how many English players are involved in the World Cup.
What advice would you give the players going to Brazil this summer for the World Cup?
RUSH: It’s difficult to give advice there. If you play in England, it’s been a long season. The most important thing to do is rest and get ready. It will be so hot in certain places in Brazil, and South Americans are used to playing in the heat…we know it will be so difficult on the players in the heat.
Tickets ranging from $20 to $150 for the big game at Fenway are on sale now and can be purchased at redsox.com/footballatfenway or by calling (877) RED-SOX9.