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May 14, 2013

Rodgers sets sights on top four

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted to the Liverpool Echo that his first year in charge at Liverpool has been a "learning curve" and believes he will be a better manager for it next season.

• Blog: Coutinho inspires

Rodgers' side will end the campaign in seventh place regardless of the result in their final Premier League game on Sunday, at home to relegated Queens Park Rangers.

That will represent a slight improvement from last season under Kenny Dalglish, when the club finished eighth - their lowest final position since 1994. Dalglish, however, did win the League Cup, whereas Rodgers will end his first campaign without a trophy.

Rodgers is seeking a much better effort next season, when he wants his team to make a serious push to qualify for the Champions League, a competition they have not graced since December 2009.

And the manager believes he can achieve that aim by strengthening his squad this summer. "This year has provided a great learning curve for me and I look back and see that it was learning that I needed," he said.

"I knew the expectancy of the club but going into next season, I am a much better prepared manager for that."

Liverpool made their worst start to a league season since 1903 as they failed to win any of their opening five fixtures under Rodgers.

Their form picked up after that, and they climbed briefly into the top six in March after beating Champions League contenders Tottenham 3-2 at Anfield.

However, a run of four draws in eight matches since has ended their chances of claiming a place in Europe for next season.

There was a possibility that the club could gain entry into Europe through the Fair Play League. But that disappeared on Monday when UEFA confirmed that the three Fair Play places in next season's Europa League first qualifying round would go to Sweden, Norway and Finland, with England missing out.

Rodgers added: "We want to make significant improvements next year in the points total because the reality is we are 30 points behind the leaders and 11 points behind the top four.

"But I've seen enough and if we improve our mentality in the summer - by signing players who have that consistent winning mentality - we can then improve again, like we have done in the second half of the season.

"That's the job of the recruitment team and the club to identify those types of players. They might not always be the best players but what we need in the second year of this project is to find a great level of consistency. There is a process of getting into the top four and becoming champions and that is consistency.

"I've loved every minute of being here and the small steps of where we want to go. But now I want to make bigger steps."

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