Rodgers upbeat despite Liverpool's Champions League exit
10 December 2014, 09:11
Liverpool - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers took an upbeat view on a dismal night as the five-times European champions were bundled out of the Champions League following a 1-1 draw with FC Basel at Anfield on Tuesday.
Liverpool's cause was not helped when half-time substitute Lazar Markovic was sent off 15 minutes after coming on for flicking his hand in the face of the chasing Behrang Safari who dramatically tumbled to the ground.
That dismissal though could not overshadow a poor performance by Rodgers' men who have made little impact on their return to the competition after a five-year absence.
However, he told ITV Sport afterwards that they could use the disappointment of this season's campaign to get back into the competition and do better next season.
"We have to fight going forward to be in this competition next season. We are not too far off the top four (in the Premier League) and, if we get there, we will be better in it next season.
"The possibility of January signings is something to discuss with the owners, but there was a big investment in the summer.
"We have been unlucky with injuries to key players who are important to the way we play, but that is to take nothing away from the players tonight who have put everything into the game."
Regarding Markovic's sending off, he said, "I thought it was an awful decision.
Also read: Ramsey goal of season contender seals Arsenal win
"I thought the referee was poor tonight to say the least. Young Markovic has come on and been bright and, although he has put his hand out, it was not a sending off.
"The referee has seen the lad lying on the floor holding his face, but I don't know if he has seen the actual incident."
Liverpool, whose poor start to the season shows no sign of improving, will now drop into the Europa League.
Fabian Frei put Basel ahead after 25 minutes before a superb free-kick from Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool some hope in the closing stages.
But speaking to ITV Sport afterwards Gerrard admitted: "I still knew after I scored that it was going to be difficult with 10 men and running out of time, but it gave us some hope and, as the manager said, the first half was not good enough and we had to go down fighting.
"I don't think we deserved better. We have not gone out because of this performance, we weren't good enough away to Basel and we let in a silly goal away to Ludogorets. You qualify over six games and we have not been good enough."
Liverpool must now try and climb the Premier League from the ninth spot they occupy after 15 games.