UNDER-FIRE Pepe Reina has defended his form – but admits he is suffering the most unsettled season of his Liverpool FC career.
Fingers were pointed at Reina on Sunday when his charge from his goalline allowed Sergio Aguero the opportunity to score from an acute angle and deny Brendan Rodgers’ side deserved victory at champions Manchester City.
Statistics have suggested the goalkeeper has been directly responsible for conceding eight goals for Liverpool during this Premier League campaign.
Reina has sat out 13 games this season – five in the top flight – having suffered hamstring, nose and thigh injuries.
And he said: “It’s been a strange season for me because I’ve missed lots of games with injury. Some people say I’ve had a bad season, but honestly I think I only had three poor matches.
“This has been the most unsettled season, both personally and as a team, since I joined the club.
“Liverpool is going through a transitional period, with new ideas and a different playing philosophy. That takes time. People have to be patient. It’s normal for us to be erratic.”
Aguero’s late goal means Liverpool have still yet to defeat anybody in the top half of the Premier League table this season and remain six points adrift of the European qualification places.
The Anfield outfit are a mammoth 26 points adrift of leaders Manchester United, and Reina admitted: “Right now we can’t compete with the big guns. They have a big edge over us at the moment, both financially and squad-wise.
“There’s a reason they are so many points ahead of us, and it’s not because of one or two better players.”
Reina, who is in the Spain squad to face Uruguay in a friendly in Doha tomorrow, believes England has far greater strength in depth than La Liga.
“The biggest two teams in the world (Real Madrid and Barcelona) play in Spain,” he added. “In the Premier League, on the other hand, there are seven or eight teams scrapping it out toe to toe below the big boys.”
Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard admits England’s glamour friendly with Brazil this week means nothing in comparison to the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Montenegro.
Roy Hodgson’s men next month travel to Podgorica, having drawn 2-2 on the same ground in a Euro 2012 qualifier when Wayne Rooney was sent off.
And Gerrard, who will receive a special award before tomorrow’s Wembley clash to commemorate winning his 100th cap against Sweden in November, said: “To play Brazil at Wembley is fantastic but there’s a little bit in the mind that’s already waiting for the Montenegro game because it is going to be a key game.
“You can’t get away from that. With all due respect to San Marino (the game before), that’s a match we should win comfortably, but Montenegro is going to be a massive game.
“If we can keep everybody fit then I’m really confident.”
However, Gerrard added: “I think there is a lot of hard work to do in the group still, that’s for sure. We are certainly not underestimating where we are and how much there is to do.
“But if we get three points in Montenegro it puts us back in the driving seat. I think Ukraine have had a couple of disappointing results, which have helped us.
“At the moment it’s looking like a two-horse race. If we can beat them (Montenegro) in their backyard it’s going to be good. We don’t want to go into a play-off.”