'Gutted' Sturridge apologises to Anfield faithful for not sealing the deal
Striker Daniel Sturridge apologised to fans for not winning the Premier League this season, but assured them he expects Liverpool to challenge for the title again.
The Reds had their destiny in their own hands until slipping up with a home defeat to Chelsea late last month which handed the initiative to Manchester City, who duly closed out the championship on Sunday with victory over West Ham, negating Liverpool's 2-1 win over Newcastle.
But second place still represents success, having come from seventh last season, as it secured a return to the Champions League and although Sturridge knows it could have been so much better, he also believes this campaign will not be a flash in the pan.
"I know we set the target of reaching the Champions League, but I can't stand here and say I'm happy. I am gutted," said the England striker. "I know we've gone from seventh to second, but I am never happy coming second. I don't like losing.
"We're all hungry for success and the fans deserve success. They've given us great support from the first minute to the last and I apologise to them for not winning the Premier League.
"I'll do everything in my power, just like my team-mates will, to try to ensure we do that for them next season. I believe we can. People can make excuses about how we had an advantage because we weren't in Europe this season, but I know we will be contenders next season.
"We will take the positives from this season and learn from the negatives. This experience will stand us in good stead for next season. I believe we will challenge."
If Liverpool are to become genuine regular title contenders, while balancing the demands of the Champions League, they have to strengthen their squad.
Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana – who will go to the World Cup alongside Sturridge and Reds team-mates Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson – has emerged as an early priority in Brendan Rodgers' strengthening process.
There are reports of a formal bid being lodged with the Saints and it is no secret Rodgers is an admirer.
Sturridge is confident his manager will get the summer recruitment right. "This squad is unbelievable. We've done really well and I fully expect us to push on again next season," he added. "I am sure the manager will buy players who he believes can push us on to the next level."
While looking to bring in more players, Liverpool are also keen to extend the contracts of a number of the first-team squad. Negotiations are on-going with right-back Johnson, who has just over 12 months remaining.
There has yet to be any movement on new deals for Henderson and Gerrard, but those are expected later in the summer.