Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool manager admits qualifying for the Champions League was a 'huge challenge because of the greatness of the club'

Rodgers reveals that there was extra pressure because of history

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits the club's history made regaining Champions League status a huge challenge.

The Reds exceeded expectations by running Manchester City close in the title race, but their primary objective was to secure a return to European football's elite for the first time since 2009.

While that was done with relative ease, Rodgers admits there was plenty of pressure on them to end their exile.

"I left pre-season in a good moment, finished with a real team spirit and at that point we were clear we wanted to fight for a Champions League position," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"It was a huge challenge, purely because of the size and greatness of the club.

"It was five odd seasons since we had played at that level and the investment that goes in and what teams were spending to try to get in there, never mind stay in there, was obviously significant, so for us we knew it would be a big challenge."

While their final finish was imperative, some of the performances the side put in were particularly significant and Liverpool's sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters - who will be working with England at the World Cup - believes it will signal the start of "golden era".

"They have had their best season for 24 years and my own belief is that it is the start of a golden era for the club," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"They have established themselves as a team before the best and winning the league again will be just a matter of time."

Rodgers said once the transfer window closed last summer the squad were able to focus fully on their task, but with a World Cup adding an extra complication to the summer transfer window this time around there are likely to be even more distractions before the end of August.

While the list of names linked with a move to Liverpool continues to grow by the day, although Press Association Sport understands it is unlikely at this stage the Reds will revisit their January bid for Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk winger Yevhen Konoplyanka, speculation over which players are likely to leave Anfield has already focused on centre-back Daniel Agger. The Dane found his place under threat from new signing Mamadou Sakho towards the end of the campaign.

Earlier in the week the Denmark captain said he did not want to be number three (in the choice of centre-backs) and he speculated he had lost his place because Rodgers "doesn't think that I'm good enough".

Ahead of a friendly against Hungary his national team boss Morten Olsen was asked about the defender.

"You may ask Daniel about (it)," he was quoted as saying by Danish newspaper Bold.

"He can best gauge how it looks now and, more importantly, (for) next season.

"Of course he should be playing, but he needs time. Otherwise I believe we will have a frustrated and irritated captain.

"I hope he will make the right choice."

PA

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