Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says winning this season's League Cup would bolster the self-belief among some of the younger players in his...
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says winning this season’s League Cup would bolster the self-belief among some of the younger players in his squad as they target higher goals.
Getting back in the top four is a priority for Liverpool after their runners-up finish in the Premier League last season.
They also have the Europa League and the FA Cup as targets, but a two-legged League Cup semi-final against Chelsea, starting at Anfield on Tuesday, offers their most immediate route to silverware, albeit a difficult one.
Despite being handed a tough draw — the other semi-final is between Tottenham Hotspur and third tier Sheffield United — Liverpool are unbeaten in eight games in all competitions and have shown signs of a return to last season’s form.
“Our objective is still very much to win a trophy and qualify for the Champions League,” Rodgers told a news conference on Monday. “Winning a trophy, for us, would help our future here — what we’re trying to build and deliver.
“It would give the younger players a lot of experience. We know these two games are going to be a challenge.
“At this moment in time, Chelsea are the best in the country. Over two games we’re really looking forward to it, because when we last played them we weren’t in a good moment.”
Northern Irishman Rodgers, who earned so much praise last season as Liverpool chased a first league title since 1990, could also do with some silverware to underscore his reputation as one of the brightest young coaches in English soccer.
He came under sustained criticism earlier this season as Liverpool regressed, but appears to have weathered the storm, with his side just a few points off the top four.
The likes of Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Lazar Markovic have all caught the eye and Rodgers says some tangible success would speed their development.
“At this point of the season, we’re developing and improving and our confidence is very high. They are two tough games but games that we’re really relishing,” he said.
“It’s a group that’s forming, and winning a trophy and winning a competition could really bring the future of the team on. It’s certainly not a threat, it’s an opportunity to get to a final. We know we’ve got to beat the best teams to win it.”