Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says an FA Cup triumph and a top four finish would amount to a successful campaign for the club.
The Merseyside outfit host Blackburn Rovers in an FA Cup quarter-final clash on Sunday and manager Rodgers is already relishing his chances of winning his first trophy at Anfield after three years.
The Reds trail fourth-placed Manchester United by two points in the Premier League and are on a 12-game unbeaten run after Wednesday’s 2-0 home win over Burnley.
Rodgers, whose side are the only unbeaten team in the English top flight in 2015, believes they have now come of age and are ready to win silverware.
“The first year here was about integration, second year objective was to get in the Champions League, this season I felt we had depth to challenge for trophies.
“If we can arrive in the top four and win a trophy that will be success for us this season,” the Northern Irish boss said in his pre-match media conference at Melwood on Friday afternoon.
Liverpool were knocked out of the Uefa Europa League last week by Turkish side Besiktas following a 5-4 shootout defeat in Istanbul (venue of their Champions League triumph in 2005) in the second leg of their last-32 tie.
They defeated Crystal Palace, Bolton Wanderers and Wimbledon on their track to the sixth round of the oldest football tournament in the world.
The seven-time FA Cup winners are a win away from Wembley, but Rodgers feels such a magnificent setting should be reserved for only showdown matches.
“In many ways I wish semi-finals weren’t at Wembley as I think it takes something away from it,” Rodgers opined. “Wembley should be just for the final.”
Returning Gerrard must fight for selection
Steven Gerrard is close to making his Liverpool return, but there is no easy route back into Rodgers’ first-team plans, the 42-year-old tactician has warned.
The Liverpool skipper, 34, who has not featured since scoring in a 3-2 league win at top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur last month, trained at Melwood on Friday following his recovery from a hamstring injury. Defender Mamadou Sakho is also edging closer to a return after a four-match hip injury hiatus.
“We’ve still got a couple of days to go yet with Steven, he’s obviously with the rehabilitation team,” Rodlers said.
“The team is playing very well, but it will be important just to get Steven back and available for selection- that’s the most important element.
“He’s very much a team player; if he was on the bench because the team is in good form and playing well, everyone respects that.
“I’ve shown in my time here that if players are performing well- irrespective of status or price- they play. Simple as that.
“But for me, the most important thing in the first case is having Steven available. He’s an outstanding player still and to have him back will make our squad a better squad.”
Vice captain, Jordan Henderson, has impressed the Kops this week with two goals in the space of four days (against Manchester City and Burnley).
The 24-year-old, who was elevated to the leadership role following Daniel Agger’s departure last summer, has scored seven goals and made four assists in 27 Premier League games. He has completed more Premier League minutes than any other Liverpool player this season, with 2,356 minutes of league actions to his credit.
In spite of his contributions so far, Rodgers says the England international should not be compared to the departing Gerrard, who has agreed to join Major League Soccer franchise LA Galaxy at the end of the season.
“There is no comparison,” he said. “People should stop trying to put pressure on a young pplayer like Jordan. Just because Jordan takes corners, doesn’t mean he’s the next Steven Gerrard.
“Just because he shoots from outside the box, doesn’t mean he’s the next Steven Gerrard.”