Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Rodgers so proud of his Reds

Brendan Rodgers thinks his Liverpool side have had a "remarkable" campaign
Brendan Rodgers thinks his Liverpool side have had a "remarkable" campaign

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has congratulated his players for putting the club back "on the world map" in a season he feels they can be proud of - regardless of whether or not they become Barclays Premier League champions.

The Reds began the campaign with ambitions of breaking into the top four but have exceeded all expectation by mounting a serious bid to be crowned champions.

They look set to fall just short ahead of Sunday's top-flight finale, which they head into two points behind leaders Manchester City in second place.

To secure the trophy, Liverpool, seemingly destined for it a few weeks ago before dropping crucial points, need to beat Newcastle at Anfield and for West Ham to win at City, whose goal difference is vastly superior to their own.

Although he appeared to have done so following his side's 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace on Monday, Rodgers insists he has not given up on the title yet.

But at the same time, he has emphasised that the Merseysiders can hold their heads high whatever the outcome this weekend - and i s confident they will be stronger next term.

"I want to congratulate my players on this season - I think we have had a remarkable season," Rodgers, under whom Liverpool finished seventh last season, said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"The players have put Liverpool on the world map again.

"The performance level has been exceptional over the course of the season.

"Come Sunday we will fight right to the very end.

"If we end up not winning the title, I think to finish second to the richest team in the history of sport really shows the progress we have made.

"I think this is really only the beginning. I've had two years here and we have been progressing. This year we have made a step.

"I see and hear that other teams will improve, but I think we will improve dramatically as well next season."

Rodgers is well aware the general expectation is that City will beat West Ham, but he was keen to point out that the London outfit have shown this term that they are capable of springing surprises on their travels.

"It is certainly not over," he said. "First and foremost, we must concentrate on our job, which is to win our game.

"As for them (City), West Ham have some really talented players. If you can go to Tottenham and win 3-0 (which West Ham did in October), you can certainly go to Manchester City and win.

"They've got the likes of (former Liverpool striker) Andy Carroll, and they have a good defensive record.

"The expectancy is, without disrespecting anyone, that Man City will win. But it certainly won't be easy for them, I'm sure.

"West Ham will want to finish on a high, and they know they have the players that can cause problems."

Meanwhile, Rodgers has confirmed the ''framework'' of a new contract between him and Liverpool is in place.

The Northern Irishman is set to put pen to paper on a new deal once the Reds have completed the season.

Asked to clarify the situation regarding his contract, Rodgers said: ''I've obviously been in discussions with the club and there is the framework of a deal that is in place. But I have always said it will be at the end of the season.

"I want nothing to detract from what has been a great season for ourselves. Hopefully we will resolve it over the course of the off-season.''

Rodgers was also asked about reports that have emerged this week linking Liverpool with Southampton and England midfielder Adam Lallana.

The Reds manager suggested it was ''purely speculation'', but also gave an indication of his admiration for the 25-year-old.

Rodgers said about the Lallana talk: ''I saw something on that on Thursday. I'm sure you can respect that I would never, ever mention about a player at another club.

''It is purely speculation. Adam is a terrific young talent, but for us, there is always speculation about top young players.''

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