CARRAGHER FOCUS ON TOP-FOUR FINISH
Veteran Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the Reds must forget about mounting a title challenge in the near future and focus instead on getting back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League.
Liverpool are looking for their third manager in as many years after owners Fenway Sports Group sacked Kenny Dalglish on the back of a disappointing Premier League campaign, despite winning the Carling Cup and reaching the FA Cup final - with Wigan chairman Dave Whelan giving the Reds permission to speak to Latics boss Roberto Martinez.
Bootle-born Carragher, 34, is a life-long Liverpool fan but admits past league glories now seem a distant memory, with the Anfield club's last title coming back in 1990 when the Merseysiders were then all-conquering in Dalglish's first stint as manager.
Speaking at Thursday's ITV Sport Euro 2012 launch in central London, Carragher said: "We have got a trophy and we got to a cup final, so in the domestic cup competitions we have had a fantastic season, but in the league we all know it was a disappointment.
"We all realise now the Champions League is very important. It's the place to be seen and we are not there.
"Liverpool fans probably don't want to hear it, but it is an achievement getting into the top four. It is different to what it was a long time ago.
"I have been in the team 15 years and we have only challenged for the title a couple of times, which is obviously not what we would like and not good enough for us.
"At the moment I don't think the title is in everyone's mind, I think top four first.
"Let's try and get back in that top four first as quickly as we can and then once you cement your place in there, you establish yourself and go again really, as we did with [Gerard] Houllier and [Rafael] Benitez.
"We were in the Champions League for a couple of years and then had that tilt at the title and just fell short.
"I think at the moment the task is to try and get back into that top four."
Carragher, though, accepts Liverpool are going to have to do it the hard way.
"I don't think we are the type of team that could just go out and spend £200million like [Manchester] City or Chelsea can, and you have virtually guaranteed yourself a good chance of winning the title," he said.
"We have to build a little bit slower than that. The next stage for us is to get into the Champions League, but that will happen.
"Football cycles and we will get back in there and then have a challenge for the title.
"I have come close a couple of times, but hopefully in the future we can go one step further."
Carragher, 34, revealed he had chatted with Dalglish, who remains an Anfield legend, and would now look to next season and supporting the new manager.
"I am disappointed for Kenny because he loves the club passionately, but that's football," said Carragher.
"He knows better than me that when results aren't going as well as the owners would like the manager pays the price, but we are all in that together really.
"It is the squad which hasn't done it for him really, unfortunately, but the manager carries the can."
Carragher knows whoever eventually takes charge in the Anfield dugout will face the burden of an expectant Kop.
"That is part of managing Liverpool, it's one of the biggest jobs around and a lot of pressure comes with that," he said.
"It is a prestigious job, so I am sure there will be a lot of people interested, but that is for the owners to decide."
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