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Rodgers targets improvement

Brendan Rodgers is convinced Liverpool can push for the Premier League's top four next season.

•  Walsh: Home of disconnect

Rodgers' side lie seventh with two matches of this season remaining; 12 points behind fourth-placed Arsenal and 30 adrift of champions Manchester United.

His chances of a late push for Europe this season have been ended by a run of two wins from the last seven league games - a sequence that has included four draws.

But the Liverpool manager is intent on reducing the gap between his team and the Premier League's current top four - United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

He said: "My focus is to try to close the gap. We are bridging that gap slowly this year but hopefully we will take a bigger stride next year.

"But the reality is very simple: we are 30 points behind the leaders and 12 points behind fourth place so we have a lot of work to do here.

"We know it is a long road but we don't like being second-best and being behind. We don't start the season aiming to finish fourth. The aim is always to win the title.

"A club of this status that is the ultimate objective - but you have to be realistic."

Liverpool have been a long way short of their big rivals United in the Premier League this season.

But Rodgers will be looking to take advantage of any difficulties that arise at Old Trafford as a result of Sir Alex Ferguson's departure.

Ferguson announced on Wednesday that he would retire this summer after 26-and-a-half years in charge of United, with Everton boss David Moyes to replace him.

Rodgers said: "United have been a machine over the last 25 years.

"Sir Alex has really put his identity on the club and that has led to success.

"It will take David time to go in and assess everything but it is a club as stable as any in the world and it is ready-made for him.

"There is no doubt Sir Alex will be a big miss there. He has been there so many years and been part of the furniture, making the club what it is today.

"But it is up to the rest of the clubs how they react to that. The spending powers of the teams up there will always make it close.

"I can only think of Liverpool - I've a big enough job here to get us moving on but I think next year we can do that."

Meanwhile Liverpool's friendly against Ajax Cape Town, scheduled for May 21, has been cancelled.

The South African Premier Soccer League has ruled that they match could not be played during their season, which ends on May 25.


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