LIVERPOOL — Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers braced supporters for a close-season rebuilding process after long-serving captain Steven Gerrard played his final home game for the club.
Gerrard (34) said he was devastated after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace and must now prepare for his last Liverpool appearance at Stoke City.
With Luis Suarez’s boots still to be filled following his move to Barcelona last year, Rodgers knows there is a pressing need to bolster his squad.
Asked if it would be possible to replace Gerrard with one player, Rodgers told his post-match press conference: “I don’t think there is that. He is a player and a person who is irreplaceable for the club. What he’s given over his time here and the standards he’s set are second to none.
“We’ll go forward at the end of the season and we’ll have to plot a way to improve in the summer. That’s our challenge.”
Having pushed Manchester City all the way in last season’s title race, Liverpool have slipped back in 2014-15 and are yet to secure even the consolation of a Europa League place after missing out on a Champions League berth.
But asked if he felt optimistic about the future, Rodgers replied: “We have to [be].
“In my time here, we’ve lost a couple of players with 700-odd games for the club in Jamie Carragher (737) and Steven Gerrard (709).
“Those two guys have been monumental players for the club, so losing both of those is a big blow. Throw in a world-class player like Luis Suarez, and of course it’s difficult.
“This year has been very difficult for us in many aspects. But the players have given everything they possibly can and hopefully in the summer we can add that quality that the group clearly needs and take the opportunity next year.”
Should Liverpool falter again next season, they should not necessarily expect Gerrard to appear on a white charger.
There is a feeling that Gerrard could return to Anfield on loan, following the examples of David Beckham and Thierry Henry during their stints in Major League Soccer, but he told the BBC that he would only consider returning in an “emergency situation”. — AFP