Former Liverpool FC forward Kenny Dalglish says boss Rafael Benítez can take positives from this season despite not reaching the UEFA Champions League final.
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Former Liverpool FC forward Kenny Dalglish believes Rafael Benítez's side will come back stronger next season despite the disappointment of their defeat in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. The 2005 champions were looking to reach a third final in four years, but fell 4-3 on aggregate after losing an absorbing second leg 3-2 at Chelsea FC. Dalglish, who won three European Cups during 13 years at Anfield between 1977 and 1990, says Liverpool have reason to be optimistic as they aim to improve on a fourth-placed finish in the Premier League next term.
uefa.com: Did you think that once Liverpool had scored at Stamford Bridge to equalise at 1-1 and 2-2 on aggregate, they would go on to beat Chelsea?
Kenny Dalglish: They did show a lot of resilience because in the first half Chelsea were the better side. Liverpool picked it up and looked a better side in the second half. Fernando Torres's goal was deserved and it was a great finish after great work by Yossi Benayoun. Unfortunately, they couldn't finish it. Once the third goal went in, it was always going to be a big ask. But credit to them, they hit back and made it 3-2. They just couldn't get the third goal which could have taken us through.
uefa.com: How hard is it for a player to get over a defeat like that?
Dalglish: It is not hard to lose a game against a quality side. Chelsea are top of the league along with Manchester United. They were playing a very, very good side. Of course you should be disappointed when you lose a Champions League semi-final, but you should be disappointed when you lose any game. You have to recover, but they are quite right to feel disappointed. The sad thing was that they scored two away from home but it still wasn't enough.
uefa.com: What positives can Liverpool and Benítez take from this season?
Dalglish: Torres is a huge positive. In his first year, he hit over 30 goals – a magnificent return. He is finding the position that Steven Gerrard likes to play in and enjoys playing his contributions from. So that's two pluses. I think, every day that goes by, every game that goes by and every season that goes by, you learn something and I'm sure Rafa learnt a lot from this year. And next year, they'll be looking to improve on it.
uefa.com: What do you think Liverpool need to change in order to compete in the Premier League as well as in the UEFA Champions League?
Dalglish: They can compete in the Premier League but they are just not competing at the level they'd like to. I think they had a bad November when they drew too many games and I feel they threw away too many points against the top teams and fell too far behind.
uefa.com: How does the relationship between Gerrard and Torres compare with the one you had with Ian Rush?
Dalglish: I don't think a comparison should be made because it would give them the wrong identity. There is no point comparing Gerrard and Torres with Ian Rush and myself. Everybody's different, they are all individuals and they form a very good partnership. The contribution both of them have made this year has been massive for Liverpool. But I don't think it's fair to compare them to myself and Rushy.
uefa.com: Who do you think will win the UEFA Champions League?
Dalglish: I think it's difficult to shout who is going to win it. It depends on who is going to be fit come the final. It depends on whether the Rooneys and Ronaldos will be fit. There's little to separate the two sides in the league and I think it's going to be a great final. I also think it's a great credit to the Premier League to have three teams in the last four.