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Rodgers: "We Need to Push On"

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Last season, Liverpool were surprise title challengers, but last season's success won't count for much if the club can't hold on to their league gains and use them to push on to even greater heights.

Clive Brunskill

Finishing second, securing a return to the Champions League, and nearly winning the title for the first time in the Premier League era has to be ranked as an unqualified success for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers. By most accounts, it was a result that came a year ahead of the expectations he or the club's owners had. It was also great fun to watch.

Now, though, all that matters is what comes next. To that end, Rodgers has targeted strengthening a squad that at times seemed too thin even for just the one competition they were focused on last season. At the same time, the manager has to be cautious not to make too many changes such that they would risk disrupting the core group that brought last season's success.

"I have to bear in mind that these players took us to where we are but we can’t settle on that," said Rodgers following Sunday's 1-0 victory over Olympiacos in Chicago. "We came second last year but our idea is to win and that’s why we need to have a squad to handle it and with the extra competition this year, we will need it too. That’s the simple fact of it.

"We have to keep moving. Success last year was getting into the Champions League and only just missing out on the league but we have to look to keep progressing each year. I think we have done that and I am really excited with the ones we have brought in with hopefully a few more to come. Then we will have a squad ready to compete on every front."

The club still expect to bring in two fullbacks and a striker, giving Rodgers a strong two-deep squad at every position as he seeks to hold on to last season's league gains while making a solid showing in the Champions League. Despite the loss of Luis Suarez, the goal hasn't been to replace the Uruguayan but to build a squad after a season when there was only really a first eleven.

To that end, while most of the signings so far haven't been overly flashy, they've all been solid, relatively low-risk moves. They've also been moves that have focused on players who, for the most part, should still have their best years ahead of them—aside from Rickie Lambert, it's easy to imagine all the club's signings so far still having a role to play in four or five years.

"The key for us is we are going to need every man in the squad this year," Rodgers added. "It’s a season where we have to change the team at times to keep it fresh and dynamic. We need the legs in the team because we are a very attacking and creative side. We scored 101 goals last year so the key is that fearlessness in our play but also the physicality is important.

"The message I have given to the players is clear: we need to push on. They have the same excitement as me. We are not down because we missed out last year, we see it as having taken a big step forward. Now we need to push on again and show we can be one of the top sides in European football."

With Lous Van Gaal arriving at Manchester United and Tottenham's signings of last summer having had a year to settle, the Premier League looks stronger than it perhaps ever has, and it will be a tough task for Rodgers. On the strength of last season, though, there can be no doubt he deserves complete support as he attempts to reestablish Liverpool amongst Europe's elite.