Could Liverpool cope with missing out on the Champions League?

Liverpool's task to get in the Champions League looks a little harder, but how important is it for them to secure qualification?

It has been a bit of a yo-yo season for Liverpool. The wretched start that saw them in the bottom half in November meant than any notion of them qualifying for the Champions League like they had the season before was a fantasy, until they went to within a win of breaking into that group of four.

The recent defeat to Manchester United leaves them five points behind the top four places, and it's looking more unlikely that they will make it into next season's competition, after being eliminated at the group stage of the competition in 2014/15.

Several things have been said about the importance of getting into the top four. There is the extra money from a new TV deal that accompanies next season's competition, and it is seen as one of the symbols that is essential when it comes to attracting the best and the brightest players.

When it comes to transfers, Brendan Rodgers said the summer transfer window before the beginning of this season would be the 'biggest for a while'.

It's not hard to see why he said that - a total of nine new faces arrived during the summer. After that kind of overhaul to a squad, one wouldn't think it would take much tweaking in the summer as players have started to bed in and establish themselves during this season.

But there remain question marks over a couple of them. Mario Balotelli appears to be out of favour with Brendan Rodgers and may well be making his stay on Merseyside a brief one, while Dejan Lovren has yet to convince since his £20 million move from Southampton - but Rodgers seems prepared to stick by the Croatian international.

The departure of Steven Gerrard is going to leave a big void, regardless of the amount of appearances he makes between now and his summer departure to LA Galaxy.

It's hard to replace someone as gifted and with the same kind of leadership qualities, especially when you don't have the carrot of the Champions League to dangle.

Rodgers said in the Liverpool Echo during January that he would like to see his side challenge for the title next season after his new players were bedding in this term - but having the Champions League to offer to really kick on would be a useful asset.

They would be capable of getting into the top four the season after, but the title challenge may be beyond them if they don't add some more top class players. 

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