London: The Premier League title appears to have slipped through Liverpool’s fingers but manager Brendan Rodgers is satisfied with the spirited campaign of a team he insists will return stronger next season.
They must now beat Newcastle United on Sunday and pray title favourites Manchester City lose at home to West Ham United.
“This is only the beginning for us,” the northern Irishman told the Liverpool Echo newspaper.
“This season isn’t a one-off. I think there is an easy gauge on that. You only have to look at our progress.
“This will be arguably the best run at a title the club has had for 24 years. Steven Gerrard is 33 years of age and this is the closest he has got to winning it. “Think of the experiences these players will have had. I just think what Raheem Sterling is going to be like, what Jon Flanagan is going to be like, Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, Philippe Coutinho...
“These are all young players. We are going to improve. Of course, I would expect the other teams to spend and improve but we will get better as well.”
Back in the Champions League for the first time since 2009, some fans fear Liverpool’s relatively thin squad might be stretched next season but Rodgers was unperturbed.
“History shows you it can be difficult juggling the different competitions but being back in the Champions League is something we will relish.
“We have shown the significance of our development this season and we will be able to reinforce with quality in the summer. That will push us on again.
Chelsea travel to bottom club Cardiff who are returning to the Championship after their first season in the top flight since 1962 found them short of class.
The only other outstanding issues to be decided are whether Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester United take the final Europa League place and the final confirmation of Norwich City’s relegation.
It will be a day of uncertainty, farewells and probably the end of an era or two at St Mary’s.
Will the curtain finally fall on the Manchester United career of Ryan Giggs, after 963 games and virtually three-quarters of his life spent at the club?
His interim manager’s role ends here and though it’s likely that Louis van Gaal will keep him on the staff when the Dutchman is finally confirmed as manager, that’s not guaranteed. Nemanja Vidic is definitely departing. (Agencies)