Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson admits the players felt they owed manager Jurgen Klopp and the club’s fans after a miserable month.
In 10 matches from the start of January to the beginning of February, the Reds failed to register a Premier League win, exited two cup competitions and dropped out of the top four for the first time since September.
It threatened to completely derail their season but Saturday’s 2-0 win over fellow top-four rivals Tottenham has got them back on track as they ended the weekend just a point behind their second-placed opponents.
Henderson, who called the players together at the club’s Melwood training ground for clear-the-air talks on Thursday, insists the standard has now been set for the remainder of the season.
“As players we take the responsibility as we feel as though we have let ourselves down, the manager down and the fans down,” said the England international.
“Putting in that performance doesn’t make up for it but it is a start and a step in the right direction. Now we have to build on that and keep going.
“You have to stick together. It was a tough time because we knew we hadn’t won for so long and performance levels were not up to standard.
“But you have to stay together and keep believing, and I felt we did that.
“I wouldn’t question the attitude of the players, it is very good, but there are one or two things we need to work on which we did last week in training which could help us going forward.
“I felt as though we’ve always had confidence and belief but performances over recent weeks haven’t been up to the standard we’ve set ourselves, and we’ve been punished.
“I thought everyone showed great character against Tottenham and now we have to make sure we are consistent with it.
“We have fantastic quality in the team, great mentality and great character, but it is no good me saying that – it is up to us to show that from now until the end of the season.”
The players have been given some time off before they reconvene on Wednesday to fly to La Manga in Spain for a warm-weather training camp, as Liverpool’s lack of involvement in cup competitions means they have only one more match this month at Leicester on February 27.
However, that Monday night game will be postponed if Claudio Ranieri’s side face a replay against Millwall, whom they play this weekend in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Manager Klopp – who said on Friday he dreamed of winning all 14 remaining league matches – hopes the five-day break will help recharge the players’ batteries while also giving him plenty of time to work on how to keep his side in the top four and secure their pre-season target of Champions League qualification.
“We’ll be on the training field working hard,” added Henderson.
“We have to make the most of that time and hopefully we will benefit from that and then we can kick on from the next game until the end of the season.
“From day one we’ve said the aim is to win every game. Sometimes it is not possible but that’s our aim and our aim is to do that from now until the end of the season.”