Liverpool simply must qualify for the Champions League this season. The Anfield club cannot afford another 'so-close' season.
That is because both Jordan Henderson, 24, and Raheem Sterling, 20, have just eighteen months on their current contracts.
Losing either players would be a nightmare for the Reds, which is why earning a return to the Champions League is imperative.
Lessons have to learned
Both Sterling and Henderson were instrumental in Liverpool's heroics last season and have not disappointed this season. Liverpool cannot lose two of their most promising talents, perhaps now more than ever.
That is because Steven Gerrard bring an end to his Anfield career this summer, putting extra pressure on Reds boss Brendan Rodgers to keep the bulk of his improving squad together.
Liverpool, according to former star Luis Suarez, must qualify for the Champions League as the fans expect and belong amongst Europe's elite. Qualifying for the Champions League shouldn't be an achievement for a club of the stature of Liverpool, it should be a priority.
Gone were the famous nights where Liverpool would be playing against Europe's best and giving them a game. In 2009 Real Madrid came to Anfield and were humiliated with a 4-0 defeat, 5 years later Real Madrid return and humiliate Liverpool in a effortless 3-0 win.
The old days must return!
Attracting the best
If Liverpool want to be attracting Europe's elite players then they must be playing at the highest level. If Liverpool want to attract the best then they need to stop buying mediocre young British talent, who cannot live up to the standard of playing in the Champions League, as was shown earlier in the season.
Failure to qualify this season will put last season's heroics as a 'one-off season', and will push Liverpool further away from Europe's best. That is unthinkable for a coach in Rodgers who prides himself on progress, so a promising start to 2016 must not go to waste for a side facing a season-defining clash with Manchester United this weekend.