at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Steven Gerrard insists Liverpool must use the frustration of their agonising FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea to make a stronger challenge in the Premier League next season.
Kenny Dalglish's side fell just short of an impressive second half fightback at Wembley on Saturday as substitute Andy Carroll inspired a late siege on the Chelsea goal.
The Reds looked completely out-classed for an hour as Chelsea romped into a two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Ramires and Didier Drogba.
But Carroll's arrival added a much-needed menace to Liverpool's forward line and the burly striker reduced the deficit with a clinical finish before seeing a goal-bound header brilliantly saved by Petr Cech.
As Liverpool left Wembley beaten for the first time this season after victories in the League Cup final against Cardiff and the FA Cup semi-final against Everton, Gerrard took heart from the way they raised themselves in the closing stages.
Now the Liverpool captain wants them to produce more consistency after a woeful league campaign.
“We have been superb in the cup competitions. The players deserve a lot of credit for getting to two finals but our league form hasn't been good enough,” Gerrard said.
“We have been two different teams in the league and the cups this season. I said that before the game and I haven't changed my mind.
“I don't know what the answer is. We need to find a better level of consistency in the league. The performances haven't been good enough.
“The players need to take responsbility for the poor league showing. It is as simple as that.
“With the players in the dressing room we shouldn't be eighth in the league.”
Gerrard praised Carroll for dragging Liverpool back into the game with a powerful display that suggested Dalglish should have used him from the start.
“He changed the way we played. We were a lot better with him in the team. We were a lot more direct and created more,” Gerrard said.
“Credit to Andy. He played brilliantly well. His form in the last few months has been fantastic and he is certainly pushing for a place in the England squad.”
While Gerrard has faith in team-mates like Carroll, he believes Dalglish must invest in new signings in the close-season.
“We are Liverpool. We will come back and strengthen in the summer and fight again,” he said.
“That's what the club does. All the way through my career it has been highs and lows. This is a low but we will be back.” – Sapa–AFP