Johnson buoyed by Reds’ placing

Having endured their worst start to a campaign since 1953/54 with

six points from the opening eight matches the Reds have now accrued

13 from their last six – a record bettered only by Manchester

United over the same half-a-dozen games. They are now only three

points off fifth place and six behind Manchester City, who occupy

the final Champions League qualification position. There is still

plenty of ground to be covered before the squad can think about

moving back into the top four but Saturday’s comfortable 3-0 win

over bottom side West Ham has boosted confidence. “We are still

quite close to the top and if we can build on this performance then

I’m sure we can be close to where we want to be,” said Johnson. “It

surprises me that this win has taken us to within sight of fourth

place. “Considering some of the points we have dropped, you’d have

thought we would be out of it already, to be honest, but we’re in

there. “Everyone’s beating everyone at the moment and the league’s

really open. “That means if we can put a run together we can get up

there where we aim to be.” Just over a week ago a four-match

unbeaten league run – which had lifted the club out of the

unfamiliar surroundings of the relegation zone – was ended in

dismal fashion at Stoke. Johnson is hoping the club can now put

together another strong sequence of results. “The West Ham win was

an important result because we can start again looking for another

unbeaten run like that last one,” said the England international,

who marked his return from a three-match injury-enforced absence

with the opening goal on Saturday. “We are looking to go on another

run, to build on this victory again, and we showed good form out

there, especially in the first half. “We believe that if we can put

another run together we can be back up there challenging for the

top four places. “Every team has been dropping points where you

wouldn’t expect them to. “That shows how competitive the league is,

but it has given us a chance to still challenge, despite some of

our results.”