Friday 23 March 2018

Brendan Rodgers already turning his attention to next season

Brendan Rodgers' side let slip a 3-0 lead at Selhurst Park
Brendan Rodgers' side let slip a 3-0 lead at Selhurst Park

Mark Bryans

Manager Brendan Rodgers believes the Barclays Premier League title is beyond Liverpool after they let victory slip away at Crystal Palace, but is determined to put up another strong fight next season.

Having eased into a 3-0 lead at Selhurst Park, Liverpool were caught trying to better their goal difference, inferior to that of title rivals Manchester City, and the hosts staged a miraculous comeback to earn a share of the spoils.

Joe Allen's header had given Liverpool a half-time lead and when prolific duo Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez grabbed a goal apiece, the points appeared to be heading to Anfield.

But, with just 12 minutes remaining, the Reds' defending once again proved their Achilles heel as Damien Delaney pulled one back before substitute Dwight Gayle tucked away two neat finishes.

The point still means Liverpool lead the way but the title remains in City's hands, just one point behind with a game in hand.

Rodgers, though, remained upbeat about a positive season for his side.

"We go top with 81 points with a week to go in the season, and we sit here devastated," he said after the game.

"We're ahead of schedule. We've made great strides.

"While I'm here, I'm here to fight to win titles. I'll be relentless in my quest for that. That's why I came.

"I've seen a lot this season that has given us great hope going forward. We're building something sustainable.

"We haven't thrown a bucket-load of money at it. We're trying to build. We keep working and we'll try and make more strides forward next season.

"When we reflect on it at the end of the season, we'll see it as an outstanding season."

With the title potentially decided on goal difference alone, Rodgers refuted suggestions his side had been sent out with orders to score as many as possible and rein in City's advantage in that area.

"We said at half-time the most important thing was to win the game," he added.

"We started well, then lost our shape a bit in the first half because of that: we thought we could play 'Roy of the Rovers' football and make the goal difference up.

"When we had the structure and discipline to our game, we scored goals and created chances.

"Our decision-making in that period of pressure has to be better. We ended up getting a point when we should have got three."

Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis said: "I said the game would open up in the second half, and we'd have a chance.

"Then they get the two and, at 3-0, you're staring down the barrel. When we got the first goal, I thought we'd have a squeak.

"Then everything took off, it was amazing. When the second goal went in, it was just a matter of time until we got the third."

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