Brendan Rodgers believes a trophy would signify improvements

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Brendan Rodgers feels that a trophy this season would highlight the improvements of his Liverpool team.

Rodgers took charge at Anfield in 2012 after the Reds had finished a miserable eighth in the Premier League under Kenny Dalglish. 


After making significant changes on Merseyside, the Northern Irishman guided Liverpool to within touching distance of the title last season and has taken them into the quarter-final of the FA Cup this campaign following a 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

With the FA Cup wide open this term and Liverpool still in contention for the Europa League - where they meet Besiktas in the last 32 of the competition over two legs - the former Swansea City manager believes winning either of the two tournaments will signify how much his team has grown.

“I said at the beginning of the season that the objective was to win a trophy, and so we want to be as strong as we can in every game," Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo.

“The team’s in a good condition, mentally and physically. We made a couple of changes (against Palace), but the team has been very consistent.

“We want to play as many games as we can. It will be tough, but when you’re winning games it gives you energy.

“You’ve seen that this week. We had a tough week of games this week, but the players have been brilliant and come through it well. Now they’ll recover and really look forward to the Europa League, because it’s a competition we really want to do well in.”


Selhurst Park in recent seasons has been Liverpool's bogey grounds.  Last season, they threw away a three goal lead to draw 3-3 and all but hand the Premier League title to Manchester City and when the two met last November in the top flight, Palace cruised to a 3-1 win.

Alan Pardew has made an instant impact since taking the helm of the London club earlier this year and prior to Saturday's clash the Eagles had won five of their last seven.

Throughout the fifth round FA Cup tie, Liverpool dictated the pace of the game and bullied Palace for 90 minutes, missing several chances and dealt with Pardew's route one tactics. With Chelsea and Manchester City both out of the competition, the Reds really have to fancy their chances of going all the way.

If they can avoid an away tie n the quarter final against Arsenal or Manchester United - providing they see of Preston North End on Monday night - Kopites will really fancy their chances of capturing the cup they last won in 2006.

Europa League an inconvenience?

After finishing third in Group B of the Champions League, Liverpool have another bite of the cherry in Europe as they are demoted to the Europa League.

The competition is seen as the Champions League's uglier younger brother which nobody does not take seriously. Matches take place on a Thursday evening, an inconvenience for managers as they then have a short spell to prepare for Sunday's domestic tie.

However, this season UEFA have introduced a new rule this year and winners of the Europa League automatically qualify the Champions League.

Liverpool are not guaranteed to compete in Europe's elite club competition next campaign and Rodgers sees the added bonus as an incentive to take the tournament seriously.

“There’s no doubt it can have an affect,” he said. “You’re always playing catch up, so mentally it can be tough. But it’s a European competition, a very prestigious tournament, and we are very focussed on doing well in it.

“We’ve tough games with Besiktas, but we’ll be ready for them. The players are young and hungry, and this is a group that can grow over the next couple of years. But we would like to get a trophy to signify that growth, and the Europa League is a chance for that.

“The prize does make it more attractive. But we've a way to go before we can think of that.”

Two birds, one stone

It will be a temptation for Rodgers to put of all his eggs in one basket with the new rule for winning the Europa League. The top four is so competitive this term and Liverpool trail fourth-placed Southampton by just four points, with the pair set to meet on Sunday.

However, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are too battling for the same finish as the Reds and the two north London club's are above the Reds in the table.

If Rodgers wanted to, he could possibly abandon his Premier League campaign and concentrate on the Europa League.

It could be a win-win for the 41-year-old - he gets a trophy which he desperately desires as well as a place in next year's Champions League.

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Crystal Palace
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