Liverpool take on Bolton Wanderers in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. The Reds have found themselves in a tough spot this season after the highs of the previous one where they came incredibly close to the Premier League title. Brendan Rodgers has admitted that his side was not going to be challenging for the top spot this year – but at the same time, is convinced that the Reds can challenge for the title again next season.
The departure of last year’s talisman Luis Suarez and the long-term absence of his partner in crime, Daniel Sturridge resulted in a terrible opening spell for the Merseysiders, a time where supporters were football watchers were shocked as to how a team that performed so brilliantly last season was doing so terribly this time out. However, the Reds look in good touch again. Confident and consistency has returned and Rodgers’ side finds itself in a nine-game unbeaten run, which has many thinking they can compete for a top four finish.
The Liverpool boss also admitted that capturing a trophy this season would be proof that his side are headed the right way.
“This season was always going to be difficult.,” said Rodgers, speaking ahead of Saturday’s home FA Cup tie against Bolton Wanderers.
“With so many changes and everything that’s happened, we weren’t going to challenge for the league this year. That’s reality.
“This season has been about getting into the top four, minimising the impact of so many new signings, giving them the time to develop, and then targeting a trophy in the cup competitions.
“That’s very much in our focus now.”
Summer acquisitions Emre Can, Alberto Moreno, Adam Lallana and especially Lazar Markovic found the opening spell with the Reds, tough, but are all looking in good touch and Rodgers believes that they have begun to adapt and prove their worth, and that they will do better next season along with the other players Liverpool brings in, the more “ready-made” stars.
“I believe the squad has Premier League-winning capabilities,” he said.
“The players can grow together, and if we can get success in a cup competition this year that will give us even greater stimulus to stick together and perform.
“There’s no doubt along the way you have to bring in quality that’s ready-made to help that growth.”
Rodgers added,“I knew we had brought in talents and some would settle sooner than others.
“But once they found the rhythm here and adapted to the way we worked, we’d have a positive future with them.
“Over the last six or seven weeks they have settled.
“The beauty of our squad is we have so many players who have so much development. That’s the excitement of it.
“Players are young and still learning at this level, Can, Coutinho , Sterling , Moreno, Manquillo, then there’s older players who can still develop like Lallana.
“We just need time to evolve and work together.
“Come the summer that integration will be complete, then we can go on and challenge for the title again.”