Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish accepts the club's poor start to the season cost them the chance of qualifying for Europe.

Defeat at Aston Villa, courtesy of Stewart Downing's 33rd-minute strike, was their 14th of the season - although nine of those came in the disastrous six-month reign of Roy Hodgson. It meant the club finished sixth in the table and missed out on European football for the first time since they failed to qualify in 1999.

"We did not qualify for Europe because we lost a game today, it was because we had a bad start to the season," said the Scot, who transformed the team since taking over in January.

"If you start as badly as that you are lucky to be sixth come the end of it.

"To get so close is a great complement to the players. I'm disappointed we didn't finish on a high as they've (the players) done fantastic to get as far as they have done."

Liverpool's season began way back in July with Europa League qualifiers and having hauled themselves up from 12th, just four points above the relegation zone when Dalglish took over, the Reds boss felt fatigue eventually took its told as they lost back-to-back matches.

Andy Carroll (knee), Glen Johnson (hamstring) and Maxi Rodriguez (adductor) were all left behind on Merseyside and Jay Spearing limped off with an ankle problem early on following a crunching tackle by Nigel Reo-Coker.

"I think they ran out of legs and ran out of players," he added. "There were players that played who probably shouldn't have played.

"Jonjo Shelvey (who came on for Spearing) shouldn't have played more than 20-25 minutes and I think his knee will be painful in the morning - and Jay's ankle will certainly be.

"Andy's not been able to sustain any reasonable time in training and it would have been irresponsible of us to bring him. We played him last week (against Tottenham), but it was unfair on him that we did ask him to play. I didn't think we should risk the boy's fitness by bringing him."

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Topics:
#Europa League
#Tottenham Hotspur
#Jonjo Shelvey
#Stewart Downing
#Maxi Rodriguez
#Football
#Nigel Reo-Coker
#Glen Johnson
#Premier League
#Kenny Dalglish
#Aston Villa
#Jay Spearing
#Liverpool