Football Football

Rodgers ready to give up top four dream


RODGERS-CUPWEST BROMWICH- Brendan Rodgers conceded Liverpool will be hard-pressed to qualify for the Champions League after a 0-0 draw at West Brom dealt a major blow to their bid for a top-four finish.

Rodgers’ fifth-placed side drew a blank at the Hawthorns and the Reds now sit seven points behind fourth placed Manchester United, who can widen the gap further with a win at Everton on Sunday.

With speculation linking Liverpool with a move for PSV Eindhoven’s talented young striker Memphis Depay, Rodgers’ glaring need to bolster Liverpool’s firepower was underlined as they were frustrated by Tony Pulis’ resilient side.

But attracting a player of Depay’s quality to Anfield will be much harder for Rodgers without the lure of the Champions League, especially with Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain also pursuing him.

“It’s going to be very difficult now to make the Champions League,” Rodgers said.

“With five games remaining, we certainly need to win four at least. That’s what we must aim to do to give ourselves a chance.

“You never know what might happen above us though. What we have to do right now is make sure that we keep the pressure on.

“We have our game in hand this week and the important thing is that we win that one.”

– Lack of goals –

Liverpool had the chances to take all three points, with Steven Gerrard going close to marking his 500th Premier League appearance with a goal from a free kick, while Jordan Ibe rattled the crossbar.

But with Mario Balotelli failing to make the most of a rare starting place with a typically inconsistent display, Liverpool’s shortage of goals in the absence of the injured Daniel Sturridge was laid bare.

“If you take 52 goals out of our team, then it doesn’t help you,” said Rodgers in reference to the pre-season sale of Luis Suarez and the constant injury problems suffered by Sturridge.

“We just don’t score as many goals, it’s as simple as that. In every other way we have played well, but we just lacked that bit of luck and bit of quality in the final third.

“That is something that we will have to look at in the summer, for sure.

“Our intent was to win the game, but you have to give credit to West Brom, they defended very well, as you’d expect of Tony Pulis’ team.

“In the first half, the idea was very good, but we were a bit slow. Second half was much better, but we just couldn’t find the final pass, the final touch which makes the difference.”

Despite the underwhelming result, Rodgers claimed he was pleased with the way his side bounced back from the disappointment of being beaten by Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-finals last weekend.

“The feeling of disappointment was there early on in the week, of course, but in top level sport, you’ve got to move on from it,” he said.

“We deserved the result last weekend after our performance, so today it was important to at least perform well and I felt that we did that. The attitude and the effort was there, the creativity too.”

The point edged Albion closer to safety, but Pulis refused to accept that they can rest easily just yet.

“I have been saying all along that we need to get to 40 points, so we need to find another three from our final four games,” he said.

“With Leicester and Hull winning, it’s still very tight down, so we’re not there yet.”