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Rodgers keeps faith despite Liverpool stalemate
Published : 08 Apr 2013 03:16:56Rss feed
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to rule out leading his club to a place in next season's Europa League despite a setback in a goalless draw at home to West Ham United.
Visiting manager Sam Allardyce ended a personal run of eight consecutive defeats at Anfield, and although his club failed to claim a first win there since 1963, the point represented a far better result for the Hammers than it did for Rodgers' side.
The permutations of Europa League qualification are complex, but should Chelsea win that tournament this season, sixth place in the Premier League may be enough to bring with it a spot in the competition next term.
That target is still within Liverpool's grasp, although failure to win a game in which they dominated possession has to count as a missed opportunity, especially in front of their own passionate supporters.
"Our aims are simply to finish as high as we can," said Rodgers. "This was a game we wanted to win because our form here at Anfield has been getting better all the time. We love playing here.
"The supporters are right behind the players and we make sure we're full of thrust, get bodies going forward. For us, it was a case of looking for the three points to keep us moving forward.
"We didn't do that but our aim's very much the same - finish the season strong and confident, see where it takes us in the league, knowing that it will give us a good starting point for the summer and, hopefully, make a much better start to next season."
With Luis Suarez turning in a rare sub-par performance for Liverpool, at least Rodgers could point to the performance of Philippe Coutinho, the Brazilian midfielder signed from Inter Milan in January, as a positive.
"The little guy is real magic," said Rodgers. "He is a wonderful technician. Everyone admires how hard he works for the team, he always wants the ball and is prepared to put his body on the line."
The Liverpool manager's frustration was compounded by his team having what looked a valid second-half goal by Daniel Sturridge ruled out for offside.
The home side also had a penalty appeal rejected after Steven Gerrard went down in a tangle with James Tomkins although, in response, West Ham were unfortunate to be denied a spot-kick after Tomkins appeared to be tripped by Jose Enrique.
"In a game like that, you've either got to score early to open it up or you need that wee bit of luck to get a goal," said Rodgers.
"Unfortunately, when we did score, it was ruled out for offside. When you see it again, it was clearly onside, and that's what we needed."
For West Ham manager Allardyce, the point lifted his club further away from the Premier League relegation picture, although he is not yet prepared to consider his club safe.
"I'm absolutely delighted with a point and clean sheet," Allardyce said. "But disappointed not to have won this game.
"They had the most possession, I know that, but we had the better chances in this match and it would have been a massive bonus for us to have won. It's 50 years since we won here.
"But we're looking up, rather than down, after this big point. I'd like another three points, to reach the magic 40 mark, before we're absolutely safe.
"Some teams below us are picking up two and three wins back-to-back, but we've got to feel confident we can go into our next match, at Southampton, and get more points."
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