The Reds finished out this season 7th in the Premier League, behind Merseyside rivals Everton, despite a fantastic run-in where they lost just one of their last 10 games in the league.
When asked about the likelihood of gaining access to the Champions League next year, Sterling responded:
"I'd say top four, definitely.”
"As we ended the season we can see how strong the team has become. Hopefully we can get a good start to the season and just maintain that,” the 18-year-old added.
For a club with such a glorious history and the level of quality they have in their side Liverpool simply must be aiming to challenge for a top four place next term – at the very least.
The manager is expected to bring in some new additions to his squad this summer and if his astute business in January is anything to go by, he will make sure he brings in quality reinforcements that make the team better, not just additions who make up the numbers.
Signing players like Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are an indication of what he is in the market for this summer – quality for less than ‘silly money’ the likes of which is being spent all across the continent at present.
Liverpool can challenge for the top four next term but if they want to give themselves the best chance possible, they simply have to keep Luis Suarez – not matter how high the bids come in this summer, keeping him has to be Rodgers’ first priority this summer.
Equally, Rodgers needs to ensure the Reds are less over reliant on the Uruguayan striker next term – bringing in another quality forward would do wonders and ensure both Suarez and Sturridge remain fit and focused throughout the season.
This time around Rodgers will have to address the poor home form Liverpool have experienced at home this term – winning just 9 games out of 19 at Anfield is not good enough for a club with Champions League ambitions.
They must turn those draws into wins and find that extra gear in the dying stages of games, especially at home. They drew 7 games on the road last season, which only made matter worse.
I believe adding another striker to the ranks would give Rodgers another opted to come off the bench in the last ten minutes of games. Someone who can offer them an alternative from what they have already – when Plan A doesn’t work, at present there is no Plan B and that needs to be addressed before next season.
Synonymously, Liverpool must improve their record against the top teams – of the current top six clubs in England, the Reds won just one of 12 games. That record must be addressed. They simply cannot expect to make it into the top four if they can’t beat the top four teams.
Finally, Liverpool must stick with Rodgers – they must bend to his will and stand by him and his ideas – the constant upheaval since the departure of Rafael Benitez is a big factor in their performance as a team – if there is instability and inconsistency at the top, that will be reflected in the team’s performance on the pitch and, ultimately, the results.
image: © Jan S0L0