Brendan Rodgers: We can learn from the pain of letting title slip away
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists the pain of seeing the Premier League title seemingly slip through their grasp should be viewed as a formative experience for the club.
The Reds threw away a 3-0 lead inside the last 11 minutes at Crystal Palace to draw 3-3 on Monday and hand the initiative in the title race to Manchester City.
And while there is still a slim chance of Manuel Pellegrini's side slipping up realistically Liverpool look like having to settle for second.
Many felt this year was the Merseysiders' best chance to end the 24-year wait for a championship but Rodgers, who is set to sign a new contract at the end of the season, has always maintained it would be difficult to leap from seventh to first place inside 12 months.
However, they have taken several steps forward and secured a return to the Champions League and the Reds boss feels it is all part of the learning curve.
"To be successful you have to be able to lose," said the Northern Irishman.
"If you look over the years the great winners have been teams and individuals who have lost and gone on to become champions again.
"For us we have made great strides this season and there is still another game to go.
"If anyone had told us in August we would be top going into the last week of the season we would've taken it.
"We've qualified for the Champions League but there is an awful lot more we want to achieve."
After a shaky first six months while the players got used to his methods the last year and a half has seen a definite upward trend in performances and results.
Rodgers' reward for securing a return to the Champions League after a four-year absence will be a new and improved contract.
Press Association Sport understands the paperwork has not yet been drawn up for the new deal but it has been in the pipeline for several months and there is a general agreement on both sides that it will happen once the campaign is over.
The Reds boss has consistently stated he wanted to concentrate on the final weeks of the season and not contract issues - either his or the players - but owners Fenway Sports Group are more than happy with the progress which has been made.
Rodgers paid tribute to FSG for giving him the platform on which to build that success.
"I would like to thank the owners and executive team. When I came in here two years ago I came in to continue the great work done by Kenny (Dalglish)," he added.
"The owners took a young guy of 39 into one of the biggest clubs in the world and gave me the chance to develop the vision of how I want to work.
"If it wasn't for their support I probably wouldn't be here because of the pressure of modern football."
He also praised the players for buying into his philosophy and making it work on the field.
"I am very fortunate to work with an incredible bunch. Waking up every morning of my life I look forward to working with them," he said.
"I found when I first came in they wanted to learn and wanted to be better.
"After six months of last season, from last January (2013), they have been absolutely incredible."
Rodgers has certainly had an impact with a number of the youngsters in his squad and, after hardly featuring for the first half of the season, Raheem Sterling has had an explosive effect on the second half.
That has catapulted him into England World Cup contention and on Tuesday night he won Young Player of the Year at the club's inaugural awards night.
"It means a lot to me. I give credit to the other lads, they've been great this season as well, but this is a real massive achievement for me," said the 19-year-old.
"This year has been a real learning curve for me; not being in the squad at the start of the season and having to wait for my chance.
"I've just taken things as they've come and I've learnt a lot being able to sit back and watch some of our players, how they get into the box and score goals.
"There are not too many better players to learn off than Luis (Suarez) and Daniel (Sturridge).
"I want to keep progressing and keep learning day in, day out and add more things to my game."