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Rodgers: "Five Years is too Long"

Liverpool may have disappointed over the weekend, but with a return to the Champions League tomorrow, Brendan Rodgers was focused on the future at his pre-match press conference.

Alex Livesey

With Liverpool returning to the Champions League for the first time since 2009, a bit of early fixture congestion is on the cards as Brendan Rodgers' side prepares for a stretch of five games in just over two weeks. Following a disappointing performance and result against Aston Villa over the weekend, though, it at least means there is little time to dwell on past mistakes.

"We're very excited to be back in the Champions League," said the manager as he addressed reporters ahead of Tuesday's match. "Five years is too long a time to be out of it for a club like Liverpool. Our overriding objective will, first of all, be to qualify and come out of our group. We'll take it one game at a time, and tomorrow we're aiming for three points."

On paper at least, three points should be the minimum expectation against Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad. On paper, though, Liverpool shouldn't have struggled as they did against Aston Villa on the weekend, and so the manager was quick to urge caution concerning a side that will arrive at Anfield tomorrow looking to make headlines with an upset.

"They will be a tough game for us," Rodgers added. "They're a team that attack and want to do well. They're a top team. But tomorrow has to be more about what we do ourselves. We need to up our tempo and press more, which will ignite the crowd at Andield. And we need to be better defensively, and we were disappointed at the weekend."

The focus for the manager, though, remained more on what comes next than on what happened over the weekend against Villa. Rodgers insisted that cohesiveness will come amongst the new signings will come, and what's important is continuing to reestablish Liverpool as a top four club capable of both European and domestic success.

"We have earned the right to be in the Champions League," he said. "We're excited. Five years is too long to have been away, and my main priority was to get the club back to this level. That's the key for us—building a sustainable top four club. Everyone wants to work at the elite level, and that's what the Champions League is."

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