Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Liverpool boss Brendan wants big finish and Suarez to stay at Anfield

Brendan Rodgers wants to make progress

Ask a Liverpool supporter how this season has gone and they'll shrug their shoulders and more than likely say: "It's been two steps forward and one step back."

Liverpool's last Premier League match – a 3-1 defeat at Southampton – was a particular disappointment.

It followed victories over Swansea, Wigan and Spurs when the Reds scored a total of 12 goals inspiring talk about making a late run to nail down a Champions League place.

The more realistic Kopites knew that such a prospect was unlikely and that result against the Saints was a reminder to everyone else that Liverpool still have a long way to go.

There has been enough promise over the last eight months though to suggest that Carnlough man Brendan Rodgers is taking the club in the right direction.

He came into the job last summer having replaced the legendary and much loved Kenny Dalglish.

That in itself was a mighty challenge. Moving the team on another one. Rodgers captured the imagination of the club's American owners with what he achieved at Swansea and impressed them with his ideas for Liverpool.

Had they backed the Ulsterman a little more in this season's first transfer window, Liverpool may be in a better position now.

Currently the Reds are seventh in the Premier League, nine points behind Tottenham in fourth and three adrift of Everton, in sixth.

Rodgers would love to finish above of his Merseyside rivals and there is every chance of that if they overcome Everton in the derby at Anfield in May.

Another fixture to look out for is the return of Rafael Benitez with Chelsea.

On April 21 Benitez will receive the best reception he has had from a crowd all season with the Kop sure to warmly welcome the man who guided Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005.

Rodgers has yet to gain that affection from the Liverpool faithful, but the majority of them respect and see what he is trying to do – play in a certain attractive style, bring in quality like Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho and a handful of others this summer and make the Anfield outfit a genuine force again.

Of course that ambition will depend much on whether he can keep the brilliant Luis Suarez. The club say he is staying but the Uruguayan striker wants Champions League football and if Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid come in it'll be difficult for Liverpool to keep him.

A strong finish to the season would help in Brendan's battle to persuade Suarez to give it another campaign to make his Champions League dreams come true at Anfield rather than elsewhere.

It would also increase the faith of the Liverpool fans in the County Antrim man that better times lie ahead.

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