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By ESPN Staff
May 7, 2011

Dalglish not thinking about Europe

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists he is not even thinking about the prospect of European football despite the fact they are closer to qualifying for it than they have been all season.

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After last weekend's win over Newcastle lifted the Reds into fifth place, their highest position of the campaign, the debate began to intensify about whether the Europa League would be a good thing for a club trying to win back their place in the top four.

Sixth-placed Tottenham have a match in hand and, by the time Liverpool play Fulham on Monday, they could have been overtaken by Harry Redknapp's side.

Even with three games to play Dalglish knows there are still many variables which could affect the final outcome.

Liverpool's long-term planning will continue regardless but the Reds boss is confident the "problem" of Europa League football is something they will deal with if it becomes a reality.

"I find it very difficult to predict the future," he said. "We've always said we would get our reward at the end of the season - we never set ourselves any target.

"We don't have that [Europa League] problem yet and so until it arises we don't have to solve anything - the biggest problem I have is Fulham on Monday night.

"There will be problems to be solved at the end of the season and if we get the Europa League that will be one of the problems. Planning for next season started a good while ago - that [Europa League] is just one thing which has to be taken into consideration but you cannot predict what is going to happen so there is no point in worrying about that."

Although highly ambitious, even Dalglish could not have expected the turnaround in fortunes which has taken place under his guidance. The major concern when he replaced Roy Hodgson in early January appeared to be preventing a slide back into the lower reaches of the table.

From 12th place, though, they have steadily risen and, the odd result excepted, appear to have peaked at the right time.

It is a transformation which has ensured Dalglish and coach Steve Clarke, brought in at the same time to help out on the training ground, will see their temporary positions become permanent - although confirmation will probably not come until the end of the season now.

The players have responded to the return of the club icon for a second spell in charge and Dalglish has been fortunate at least one of his January signings - Luis Suarez, a £22.8 million buy from Ajax - has settled in well and provided much-needed impetus.

Fellow deadline day arrival, Andy Carroll's start has been less eye-catching but his progress has been curtailed by injury and it will be next season before he really finds his place in the team.

Dalglish once again played down his influence over proceedings, insisting he was not aware of a huge change in the way things worked.

"I have just noticed the players being really enthusiastic in training and in the way they've worked and they've had their reward for it on the pitch," he said.

"We've not been disappointed with any single player's attitude since we came in. On Thursday night a few of the lads [Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, David Ngog and Jonjo Shelvey] played for the reserves and they had a great attitude towards the game, were fully committed and got a great deal out of it.

"That will do us no harm whatsoever, and neither will it do the players any harm either."

In regard to Suarez, the manager added: "With his personality and approach to the games you get a reward and for us it is a really exciting player who has made a contribution to our recent games.

"He enjoys playing football and being here. He has got himself really involved in the Liverpool way and he has got his reward for that. It's a help when he gets a goal but he makes a few as well and we have been delighted with what he has done so far."

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