Liverpool can qualify for Champions League says Kevin Keegan


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The Independent Football

Former Liverpool striker Kevin Keegan believes a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League is an achievable target for new boss Brendan Rodgers this season.

The ex-Swansea manager took over at Anfield following the sacking of Kenny Dalglish during the summer and faces his first league match at the helm away to West Brom on Saturday.

Liverpool's American owners have charged the 39-year-old with revitalising the club's fortunes and Keegan reckons Rodgers is the right man for the job, with a return to the Champions League being attainable.

"I think it is a big ask but it is probably the right time for him to go there," he told Press Association Sport.

"He comes with a lot of knowledge - he has got good experience, but Liverpool is different for him, the expectation at Liverpool, regardless of what anyone said is to win the league.

"Even top four for Liverpool fans, because of what they have been brought up on is not enough, but if things go well it is achievable.

"Last year if they had won half of the home games they had drawn they would have been in the top four. There are lots of things if you're a Liverpool fan to give you hope and inspiration."

Keegan, who was talking at the launch of ESPN's new football brand ESPNFC, has also been impressed with the attractive philosophy favoured by the Northern Irishman and thinks it will please the Liverpool support.

"What I think Liverpool fans will like about Brendan is the football that he plays," he said.

"It is attractive and whereas at Swansea he didn't have a Suarez or a Gerrard he has them now and he can play that kind of football with better players."

Wales midfielder Joe Allen has followed Rodgers from Swansea to Anfield and Keegan feels he could prove to be an influential player from the outset.

"He may give them something else," he said of the 22-year-old midfielder.

"It is always a great sign when a manager goes back to his former club and brings a player with him and I think Allen could be the key.

"He has paid a lot of money for him and surprised a lot of people but look out for him being a big hit with the Liverpool fans."

Despite finishing eighth last season after heavy investment in new players Keegan maintains Rodgers has inherited some top-class players at Liverpool and must do his utmost to hang on to them, with the likes of Daniel Agger being linked with champions Manchester City.

He said: "They have got three world-class players for me at the moment, (Steven) Gerrard obviously, (Luis) Suarez and Agger at the back.

"They have still got (Stewart) Downing there, they have still got (Andy) Carroll there and they still have (Charlie) Adam there.

"These are players they brought last year and you think to yourself, what if they start to find their feet this year and the new kids come in and do well, they could challenge. It is a big ask but if all of these things come off they could be good enough.

"It is no good getting a good few players in and then let one go.

"He (Agger) has been very consistent so the minute you get that kind of player going out it weakens you.

"You have to find someone out there who is better than him and there are only one or two I think are better than him but I don't think they would want to come."

Another Liverpool player attracting the attention of other clubs in £35million England striker Carroll.

Former side Newcastle, as well as recently-promoted West Ham, have made their admiration of the forward well-known but Keegan thinks staying put would be the right decision for the 23-year-old.

"Rodgers played with a big lad up front at Swansea with Danny Graham, obviously there was a lot of talk about him going out on loan and I see him as a tremendous asset to have on the bench," he said.

"Him and Suarez should be an amazing combination, if that ball is going up in the air he will beat anyone - I wouldn't close the door on Carroll yet even though some people have.

"It was not that long ago he was scoring the winning goal in an FA Cup semi-final and then came on and scored in the final, he won a League Cup and he might think he has something to prove and will want to prove it.

"I think he was starting to find his feet towards the end of the season and he is following in the footsteps of players like Dalglish, Rush and Fowler."