Rodgers: "Liverpool aren't title contenders" - How long until they are?

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has ruled his side out of the running for the Premier League title – but how far off are the Reds from contesting?

Rodgers was speaking after watching his side surrender a lead at The Hawthorns, as Kolo Toure's calamitous error in front of his own goal gifted West Brom a 1-1 draw, leaving Liverpool eight points behind leaders Manchester City.

Whilst that might not see insurmountable, the Reds manager believes that they don't have the squad depth to compete with the likes of City and Chelsea.

"I think for us, as a team, it's too early for that [the title]." Rodgers told Sky Sports. "I was at the Manchester City-Chelsea game the other night and I look at the squads they have, which they have built up over the last few years, and it's very difficult for us, even though we have competed right the way through the season. So, I wouldn't say for us this year, no. We wouldn't be challengers for it."

But having acknowledged that his side have competed for the majority of the season, it begs the question – just how far off challenging the big boys are Liverpool?

The undoubted strength of this Liverpool side is that strikers Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have combined for 40 goals in all competitions – whereas the rest of the squad have hit 22 goals between them. Their reliance on the deadly duo could be concerning, but their partnership helps keep Liverpool in games at all times, and all teams have to be wary of their impact.

The key for Liverpool has to be to land more of Brendan Rodgers' targets – whether that be another striker to help take some of the pressure of Sturridge and Suarez or anywhere else on the pitch. Too often over the last 18 months, Liverpool have failed to land players that Rodgers had identified as important targets, starting with Gylfi Sigurdsson's decision to move to Spurs, and most recently the failure to bag Mohamed Salah or Yevhen Konoplyanka despite deals looking close on a number of occasions.

The club also missed out on Willian and Henrikh Mkhitaryan last summer, and the inability to land the big names could hold the team back. It's obviously difficult for Liverpool to attract big players without Champions League football, and Champions League football is hard to guarantee without the addition of big players, leaving Liverpool in transfer market purgatory.

The summer spending will depend heavily on Liverpool's European commitments – if they make the top four, they should be able to attract the bigger name players, but if they are resigned to the Europa League once again, then it could be another difficult transfer window for Rodgers, whose frustration at missing out on key targets must be building.

A left back, right back, central midfielder and winger must be at the top of the wishlist, with Ryan Bertrand, Martin Montoya, Gokhan Inler and of course Konoplyanka likely to be targeted once again. Steady team building has to be the mantra for Liverpool, who can't compete with Chelsea and Liverpool financially, with those teams able to build winning teams far quicker than Liverpool can. It will take patience from fans and staff alike, but under Rodgers, it does seem that progress is being made at Anfield.

image: © Bernard C

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch