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Rodgers: Liverpool not far off top four rivals

ESPN staff
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Brendan Rodgers believes his side are close to hitting top form © Getty Images
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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers reckons his side are on the right path towards matching Tottenham and challenging regularly for Champions League football again.

Rodgers can guide his side into the top half of the Premier League for the first time this season with a win at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night.

His first five months at Anfield have been made trickier by the challenges of trying to improve a lop-sided squad short of top-class strikers on a limited budget. But even though he has seen Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas spend £57 million on six players, including Liverpool summer target Clint Dempsey, Rodgers is not envious.

The Liverpool boss was a target for Spurs as they looked to replace Harry Redknapp at the start of the summer, but insists he made the right choice by moving to Anfield in June.

"I was very happy in my work at Swansea," Rodgers said. "Harry had done a brilliant job there, and for whatever reason, the club decided that it wasn't to be and looked elsewhere.

"For me to leave Swansea was going to be a big ask, but I had the opportunity to come here, and I've not regretted any moment of it."

Asked if there had been contact with Tottenham over their manager's job earlier this year, Rodgers said: "It's irrelevant. Tottenham have chosen a manager. Obviously, Harry had done a great job there, and they decided to go down the route of Andre Villas-Boas.

"Andre's gone in, he's looking to continue the great work Harry had done. My only thinking is about Liverpool."

Rodgers found it hard to hide his disappointment at missing out on Dempsey, who wanted to join Liverpool from Fulham in August, only for the deal to fall through, with Tottenham signing him for £6 million instead.

By the time Dempsey's future was sorted, Rodgers had already allowed Andy Carroll to join West Ham on a season's loan. The Liverpool manager has since had to manage a chronic shortage of strikers.

"There was an offer to sign Clint," he said. "He was a player who had been terrific at Fulham, so we were interested in him, and I'm sure several other clubs were as well. The club felt they had done what they could to get the player. It wasn't to be, and he moved to Tottenham. Our life moves on."

Rodgers feels Liverpool are on the right lines, heading to White Hart Lane unbeaten in eight league games - although that run includes five draws.

"We know we're not too far away," he said. "We're very, very close to arriving in that zone that we want to be in. You only need to look at some of the things that have gone against us in terms of goals disallowed, for instance. If you take those points alone, over the course of a few games, that would be shooting us right up there.

"But we're just going to look to take care of our own game and keep progressing. We know we have the qualities to grow and arrive up in there."

Anfield has not hosted Champions League football since Liverpool were eliminated in the group stages in December 2009. Tottenham, on the other hand, reached the quarter-finals in 2010-11 before losing to Real Madrid, and would have qualified for this season's competition had Chelsea not won it in May.

Rodgers acknowledges that he will not be given the money by owners Fenway Sports Group to match Tottenham's spending, and so has to find other ways to improve Liverpool's fortunes.

"Tottenham have been building the group steadily, and they've worked their way up to become challengers for those Champions League positions," Rodgers said. "They have invested heavily and done it over a number of windows. We're trying to arrive in that position, and we're seeing what it sometimes takes to do that.

"But if you haven't got the investment, then you have to find other ways of doing it, and that's where we are at the moment. We look at our way of working. Can we be different in our way of playing? Can we develop young players and bring them through? Can we find a bargain somewhere?

"Of course, Liverpool always want to be in for the top talent, and this is a club that can attract those players. But going forward, a lot of players want to be in the Champions League. So they want to come in to hear that's somewhere we want to get to in the coming years.

"It's about getting young players through, finding players we can develop, players who are hungry, and players who really want to succeed in helping the club move forward."

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