Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 January 2020

Rodgers targets silverware

Brendan Rodgers wants Liverpool to build on last season
Brendan Rodgers wants Liverpool to build on last season

Liverpool may have been surprise title contenders last season but as the new campaign kicks off manager Brendan Rodgers is targeting a trophy and a top-four finish.

The Reds were pipped by Manchester City in the final week of the campaign despite an extraordinary run, which saw them record their highest league finish since 2009.

Disappointment at missing out on a first championship for 24 years was only slightly tempered by a return to the Champions League but Rodgers knows if they are to maintain their progress they have to at least secure a long-term place among Europe's elite.

As a result he has tried to lessen the expectations of another title challenge - at least until their primary aim is achieved.

Asked whether his side were contenders the Northern Irishman said: "Not according to the bookies we're not.

"I've seen some odds and I don't think we are even in the top four.

"I think people will look at Manchester City and Chelsea, with their squads.

"We probably arrived a year early to where we were but we will look to be up there challenging again this season.

"What happened last year counts for nothing, that's all gone now. The one thing that will carry on from that is the belief.

"Our aim is to be competitive. Like the top teams, we want to win a trophy. That would be an aim. In the league, it's about sustaining Champions League football.

"For that you want to arrive in fourth. Once you have consolidated that, you can look beyond that. That's certainly our aim this season."

Last term Liverpool undoubtedly benefited from a poor season by Manchester United and a Chelsea side in transition after the arrival of Jose Mourinho for a second spell.

But with Louis van Gaal now at the helm at Old Trafford and Mourinho having spent nearly £80million on Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Felipe Luis the competition will be much tougher with City and Arsenal also investing heavily.

Rodgers has invested the £75million from the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona on seven players and is still in the hunt for a striker to replace the 31-goal Uruguayan as he realises they cannot afford to give up their top-four spot it took so long to get back.

"It will be the same as last year - it was very competitive," he added ahead of the visit of Southampton.

"There are maybe seven teams challenging for those positions, but that's the beauty of this league.

"It's a fantastic league to operate in as a manager and a player.

"We'll be ready for the challenge, that's why we've tried to improve the squad again."

In the absence of Suarez the rest of the side will have to elevate their games with Rodgers looking for 19-year-old England forward Raheem Sterling to continue his meteoric rise having put a number of off-field issues behind him in the last 12 months.

"He is a wonderful talent. He is very stable and secure outside of his football life and you see the joy he plays the game with," said the Reds boss.

"The great thing about Raheem is he has a real mature head on his shoulders.

"He got 10 goals last year and we are looking at improving that ratio.

"He is one of a number of youngsters here who has so much potential to produce."

Striker Daniel Sturridge scored 24 goals last season but will now become Liverpool's main man up front after the departure of Suarez.

However, Rodgers stressed the goalscoring responsibility had to be shared.

"For us the spotlight will be on the team, we won't be reliant on Daniel," he added.

"He is a fantastic player and I think you will see an improvement in him again this year but over the course of the season the reliance will be on the team.

"That is something which gives us great comfort and we have great hope going into this season."

PA Media

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