Rodgers Targets European Glory as Liverpool’s League Woes Continue
By Adrian Back | February 14, 2013 12:49 AM EST
Brendan Rodgers has placed extra emphasis on the Europa League after another disappointing performance in the Premier League saw his Liverpool side slip to a 2-0 home defeat to West Brom on Monday.
Having been knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Swansea and embarrassingly beaten by Oldham in the FA Cup, the Europa League represents Liverpool's last chance of winning another major trophy.
Under Kenny Dalglish last season Liverpool won the League Cup and lost in the final of the FA Cup to Chelsea, but this season they have struggled in the cup competitions as well as in the league.
After losing to West Brom they face an uphill battle to simply qualify for any form of European football and Rodgers has made it clear that he is taking the Europa League incredibly seriously now they are in the knockout stages of the competition.
"It's always been a real focus to do well in it, but obviously it's now the last trophy we can aim for this season, so there's no doubt the focus is narrowed into it," Rodgers told the official Liverpool website.
"Earlier in the season, because of the size of our squad, we had to try and manage the group games and that bore fruit for us because some of our young players got good experience in the tournament and we ended up coming out on top of the group.
"The Capital One Cup was a competition where it was an opportunity for the younger players to play and even though we wanted to do well in it, at that stage it wasn't a priority.
"But certainly going forward, every competition for us is vitally important, whether it's the league, the domestic cup competitions or the European games because the history of this great club has been built on those great successes and that's something we want to maintain."
Having used the group stages to hand debuts to a number of academy players, Rodgers confirmed that he would be sending a strong squad to Russia for a the difficult first leg against Zenit St. Petersburg.
"I want to go in as strong as we can. I think we're on the down slope now - we've only got 12 games in the league and hopefully we can progress in the Europa League. We'll be looking to go strong," continued Rodgers.
"The Sunday game [our rearranged clash with Swansea] hasn't helped us, if I'm being perfectly honest. We weren't due to play Swansea until the following week and I would have thought that after that was the best time to play that game.
"On the back of the players playing international games and two tough games away to Arsenal and Manchester City, it's something we'll need to look at.
"But there certainly won't be wholesale changes as there were in the earlier rounds because this is a competition that we want to be strong in and we've now only got two opportunities to get through to the next round.
"We'll assess and see how the group is, but the majority of the squad will travel."
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