Liverpool vice-captain James Milner has urged his teammates to ensure all the hard work they put in last season doesn’t go to waste.
The Reds’ fourth-placed Premier League finish means they will have to get through a Champions League playoff clash, scheduled to be decided across two legs on August 15-16 and August 22-23, in order to reach the group stages of Europe’s elite competition.
A 3-0 win over Middlsebrough on the final day of the Premier League season saw Jurgen Klopp’s men secure a return of European football after a physically and mentally gruelling campaign.
Milner has now outlined the importance of Liverpool finishing what they started as a way of continuing to progress.
“It’s not easy to get into the qualifiers even – top four in the Premier League is tough,” Milner told Liverpoolfc.com.
“We’ve done part of the job but we have to finish that now. It would be disappointing not to make it after all the hard work we did last year. I’m sure we will.”
“We’re improving all the time as a team and you can see that over the last couple of years since the manager has come in. We’re moving in the right direction.”
“New faces come in over the summer and the squad is a year older as well. It is a pretty young squad so that experience of having a successful season last year and hopefully getting some more confidence there can stand us in good stead for the season.”
— LFC XTRA (@LFCXtra) June 2, 2017
The talent Klopp has at his disposal compared to that of Liverpool’s potential opponents suggests the Reds should have no problems getting through their playoff round.
To fall short at this stage would be a crushing blow and demoralising start to the season given just how hard the team worked to earn a top four finish.
A return of European nights at Anfield is long overdue and something that would mark a significant step forward in Klopp’s long-term project with the club.