Sturridge apologises to Reds fans

Hampshire Chronicle: Daniel Sturridge was disappointed Liverpool came second in the title race Daniel Sturridge was disappointed Liverpool came second in the title race

Striker Daniel Sturridge apologised to fans for not winning the Barclays Premier League this season but assured them he expects Liverpool to challenge for the title again.

The Reds had destiny in their own hands until slipping up with a home defeat to Chelsea late last month which handed the initiative to Manchester City, who duly closed out the championship on Sunday with victory over West Ham, negating Liverpool's 2-1 win over Newcastle.

However, second place still represents success, having come from seventh last season, as it secured a return to the Champions League and although Sturridge knows it could have been so much better, he also believes this campaign will not be a flash in the pan.

"I know we set the target of reaching the Champions League but I can't stand here and say I'm happy. I am gutted," said the England striker.

"I know we've gone from seventh to second but I am never happy coming second no matter what I'm playing, whether it's table tennis, cricket or whatever, I don't like losing.

"We're all hungry for success and the fans deserve success. They've given us great support from the first minute to the last and I apologise to them for not winning the Premier League.

"I'll do everything in my power, just like my team-mates will, to try to ensure we do that for them next season. I believe we can.

"People can make excuses about how we had an advantage because we weren't in Europe this season but I know we will be contenders again next season.

"We will take the positives from this season and learn from the negatives.

"This experience will stand us in good stead for next season. I believe we will challenge.

"Next season will be a big year for us and we're looking forward to that already."

If Liverpool are to become genuine regular title contenders while balancing the demands of the Champions League, they have to strengthen their squad considerably.

Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana - who will go to the World Cup alongside Sturridge and Reds team-mates Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson - has emerged as an early priority in Brendan Rodgers' strengthening process.

There are reports of a formal bid being lodged with Saints and it is no secret Rodgers is an admirer.

Sturridge is confident his manager will get the summer recruitment right.

"I think this squad is unbelievable. We've done really well and I fully expect us to push on again next season," he added.

"I am sure the manager will buy players who he believes can push us on to the next level.

"With whoever comes in together with the great players we already have here, I am sure we will do well next season."

While looking to bring in more players, Liverpool are also keen to extend the contracts of a number of the first-team squad.

Negotiations are on-going with right-back Johnson, who has just over 12 months remaining, but much will depend on the England international.

The club want to keep the defender, who turns 30 in August, but considering his age they want his salary - Johnson is one of the highest wage earners - to reflect that and that may be the stumbling block.

There has yet to be any movement on new deals for Jordan Henderson and Gerrard but those are expected later in the summer.

Midfielder Lucas Leiva moved to clarify remarks he made after posting an image from Sunday's post-match lap of appreciation.

The Brazil international, who lost his regular place after Gerrard dropped into a deeper midfield role, wrote alongside a picture of him and his family: "Yesterday I finished my the season with Liverpool. I want to thank the ones who supported me all this years. #thankyou #goodbye."

However, after realising that left much open to interpretation he soon added: "The goodbye that I said it is about the season that finished nothing else."

After 21 goals this season it was no surprise to see Sturridge selected in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad and the 24-year-old hopes to be able to take his good form to Brazil.

"It's a very big summer ahead," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to going to Brazil and trying to do well. I'm hungry to do well. I want to bring England some success."

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