Meireles: I'm living a dream
Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles believes he has benefited from being given more freedom by manager Kenny Dalglish. The 27-year-old initially struggled to hold down a regular position after arriving from Porto in the summer, with former boss Roy Hodgson putting him out to the right while he tried to find his feet.
But the Portuguese international, returning to his homeland tomorrow for a UEFA Europa League game against Braga, 30-miles from his former home in Oporto, has hit top form since Dalglish took over. He was moved back into the centre, often playing in the hole behind the striker, and the change was marked.
In the month beginning mid-January, starting just a week after Dalglish took over, he scored five goals in six matches to equal his best tally as a professional. While he has not added to that haul in four subsequent matches he has impressed in a wider role.
Now having had six months to find his feet, gaining a good grasp of English along the way, the midfielder is happy with his performances. "I am very much committed to Liverpool," said Meireles. "I am very happy and living a dream playing for Liverpool because I think they are one of the best clubs in the world - so who wouldn't be happy?
"I work every day to be a player who can get better and to please the manager. I always work very hard, it doesn't matter if I am scoring a lot of goals at the moment, the important thing is that I am contributing to the success of the team," he added. "It is a big difference for me that at this moment, with this manager, as I am playing in a different position on the pitch and that is one of the reasons."
Dalglish is certainly getting the best out of the midfielder, with Meireles even impressing when moved back out to the right in Sunday's 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield. "He's a very intelligent footballer," said Dalglish. "He's been a part of the Portugal national team for a few years and can play in various positions.
"Raul is a tremendous asset to us at the football club, on and off the pitch, and you can see in the way he conducts himself, he does it very professionally and correctly. For us, the most important part is on the pitch - and he's played very well and since I came in, he's made a massive contribution," the coach went on.