Football

Rodgers: Pool will not fail like Spurs

Liverpool boss confident new arrivals will improve depth

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has rejected suggestions that his club are following in the footsteps of Tottenham.

Spurs made a rash of summer signings last year after Gareth Bale left for Real Madrid, but they failed to improve their position in the English Premier League table, slipping one spot from fifth to sixth last season.

The Reds have spent around £80 million ($169m) on six players in the past few months, with Luis Suarez leaving for Barcelona for a reported fee of £75m.

But Rodgers, speaking ahead of Liverpool's International Champions Cup game against Manchester City this morning (Singapore time), said that there was no point in making comparisons between their recruitment policy and that of Tottenham.

Rodgers told Sky Sports News: "We are a different club and have a different vision here. At Liverpool, there's a strategy behind what we are doing.

"We talked a lot with our recruitment team last season, knowing that, through the summer, we needed to improve the depth of our squad.

"Clearly we were not strong enough last season in terms of numbers and quality.

"We always planned to bring in a number of players, hoping we were going to be in the Champions League, so it would give us the opportunity to challenge on all fronts.

"The new players know their roles and we hope they can develop in the future as well. So far, the integration has been smooth."

IN GOOD SHAPE

Among those to arrive at Anfield during pre-season are Dejan Lovren, Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, while Divock Origi has been loaned back to Lille after being bought by Liverpool on Tuesday.

Captain Steven Gerrard feels the club are in good shape and has backed Liverpool to bounce back from last season's end-of-season heartbreak and mount a serious title challenge once again.

The Reds led the EPL by five points with three games to go in April, but a 2-0 defeat by Chelsea at Anfield - in which Gerrard slipped to gift Demba Ba the opening goal - saw them pipped to the title by Manchester City.

Gerrard, who retired from international football after the World Cup to prolong his Anfield career, is ready to put last season's disappointment behind him and lead Liverpool in their first Champions League campaign since the 2009-10 season.

And the 34-year-old insists that Rodgers' side believe that they can go one better than their 2013-14 second-placed finish and win their first league title in 24 years.

Speaking about the last season's campaign and the upcoming season, Gerrard told the Daily Mirror: "We are a good team, with a good manager, who are getting stronger.

"The confidence is rising in the dressing room and we have got to show that we are the real deal.

"We are not there to just make the numbers up. There is genuine belief that we can be in there.

"The league is going to be very, very tough, but we know we are one of the sides who have got a genuine chance of winning it. I believe that."

Gerrard's now infamous slip against Chelsea became the defining moment of Liverpool's season and was followed quickly by England's failure at the World Cup.

And Gerrard admitted that the past few months have been hard to stomach.

"It's probably been the worst three months of my life.

"I've seen it a few times. I don't have to watch something like that to go through the pain again and again and again," he revealed.

"I've been through the pain in the dressing room after and in the weeks and months since. I just stumbled across it. It didn't hide away. I have TVs in my house and I read papers. There is social media.

"When something like that happens, you have to face up and be man enough to take it on the chin. Accept it happened. You can't change it."

PRIORITY TO THE REDS

England's first round exit in Brazil was quickly followed by Gerrard's international retirement and he revealed that Liverpool commitments played a major part in his decision.

"To be fair to Brendan (Rodgers), when I had the chat with him, he said that if you want to carry on for England, I can tailor your Liverpool games," he said.

"When he said that, it made me go 100 per cent with my decision because I don't want my Liverpool games to be tailored. I still want to be available, I want to be fresh and play at a high level for Liverpool for certainly one more season." - Wire Services.

Pressure still on us: Pellegrini

PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

They say it is harder to retain a trophy than win it for the first time.Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini certainly believes so. The City boss says nothing has changed as far as pressure goes, even after he guided the club to title glory last season.

Pellegrini lifted the English Premier League trophy at the first time of asking last season as City dramatically overhauled Liverpool to prevail by two points.

But the Chilean still feels bound by expectation and is predicting another red-hot race for top-flight glory.

Speaking ahead of City's International Champions Cup clash with Liverpool this morning (Singapore time), he said: "I don't think we have the pressure off.

"All the other teams are bringing in important players and we'll have another very tough season. The pressure will continue for all the big teams.

"During the year, not only Liverpool will be our rivals - also Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham. There are a lot of very strong teams who can win the Premier League."

COMMITTED TOURE

The Citizens received a huge boost when Yaya Toure reaffirmed his commitment to City and said that he wants to stay at the club for "as long as possible".

The Ivory Coast international has been persistently linked with a move away from Eastlands this summer after his agent Dimitry Seluk suggested that the 31-year-old felt he had been treated disrespectfully by the club.

Toure then suffered the heartache of losing his younger brother Ibrahim to cancer, while his country's World Cup campaign floundered, but the former Barcelona midfielder now feels composed and ready to focus on City again.

"It was not a case of leaving the club. It was difficult because my situation was quite difficult," he told the club's official website.

"For me, I always have been quiet and my decision, if you want to say it like that, is that I will stay at City for as long as possible."

Given he was the lynchpin in City's title winning midfield last year, that will be music to the ears of their fans who are hoping they can do it all again and also push on in Europe.

Toure, who signed a new four-year deal last season, is also targeting more trophies and wants to see reinforcements arrive in the next few weeks to make it easier to fight on multiple fronts.

"I hope a couple of players sign because we need to try to build a massive club if we want to be the best and win every trophy possible," he added.

"We are looking for the Champions League - that is an important title this year and the Premier League is going to be a battle as well between Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool too.

"I think it's going to be very open. We know we are the team to beat, but we have the confidence and we have fantastic players coming and I hope this year's going to be the same." - PA Sport.