Gerrard blames inconsistency
Steven Gerrard has rued the inconsistency that he believes has cost Liverpool a place in the top four and claims they are paying the price for a few poor performances which have stopped them mounting a challenge for a Champions League place.
Gerrard scored the winning goal in Sunday's 2-1 victory against Aston Villa but is annoyed that December's defeat to Paul Lambert's side, along with the early-season losses to West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal and March's 3-1 setback at Southampton, means that they are only in seventh place.
He said: "We know what our problem is and it's inconsistency. In the majority of games we've played well enough to be higher than where we are in the league.
"But when you look at performances like Southampton, Villa at home, West Brom away, Arsenal at home, there's a handful of games in there where this team hasn't turned up - and that's the reason why we are sitting where we are in the table.
"In between those games there have been some fantastic performances, well worth a top four finish. So we know we're not far away. If there's a few improvements in the summer to the squad, we believe we can put in a better challenge to the top four next season."
Gerrard is, however, encouraged by the impact Philippe Coutinho has made since his £8.5 million arrival form Inter Milan in January.
The Brazilian set up Jordan Henderson's equaliser at Villa Park and Gerrard said: "If you look at the weight of his pass for the first goal, that sums him up.
"People talk about how skilful he is and how quick his feet are - but when you can deliver a pass like that to set up a goal in the final third, then you everyone what quality you possess."
The Liverpool captain bracketed the new signing with some of the finest footballers he has played alongside at Anfield.
He said: "As a player, since I was a kid you always find it easier to play with top quality players, all the way through, the likes of Michael Owen, [Fernando] Torres, [Luis] Suarez, Coutinho. There the easiest players to play with."
Manager Brendan Rodgers wants to extend Gerrard's contract at Anfield, although talks are not imminent. But the midfielder himself is concentrating on defeating West Ham on Sunday.
"For me it's not a priority at the moment," he added. "The most important thing for me now is to move on to the West Ham game."