KOP legend Alan Kennedy believes Liverpool FC’s heartbreaking Europa League exit should provide the perfect motivation for Brendan Rodgers’ side to deliver in the Premier League between now and May.
The Reds’ last hope of silverware this season disappeared on a dramatic night as they fought back from 3-0 down on aggregate against Zenit St Petersburg to draw 3-3 but bowed out on away goals.
Two-times European Cup winner Kennedy was at Anfield to witness a thrilling encounter and says the current crop must now focus on ensuring Liverpool are involved in continental competition next term.
With 11 league matches to play, the seventh-placed Reds finds themselves nine points adrift of Tottenham, who occupy the final Champions League spot.
A more realistic target is the Europa League but only fifth place would guarantee qualification, while sixth would be good enough if both FA Cup finalists qualify for Europe by their league position.
“There might not be a trophy at stake but there’s still a lot to play for,” Kennedy said.
“Being in Europe is vital for a club of Liverpool’s stature. It was a special night on Thursday with the crowd playing their part and we came so close to pulling it off.
“Some of our players won’t have played in an atmosphere like that before. They won’t have experienced anything like that but having had a taste of it they should want more.
“Hopefully that will inspire them for the rest of the season. Being out of all the cups means we have to work doubly hard to make sure we get everything we can from the remaining league games.
“We need to get more consistency with our results and finish as high as we possibly can. Too often this season little lapses in concentration have cost us and we’ve found ourselves chasing games we were in control of.
“We need to begin every game with the kind of mentality and attitude we showed against Zenit. That has to start against Wigan next Saturday.”
Kennedy, who made 359 appearances for the Reds between 1978 and 1985, was buoyed by the character Liverpool showed on Thursday night after a nightmare start.
Jamie Carragher’s error allowed Hulk to fire Zenit ahead but the former Reds full-back insists the vice-captain could hold his head high.
“I thought Jamie had a fantastic game and I told his dad that afterwards,” Kennedy said.
“He wasn’t fazed by what happened and led by example. Okay, he made one mistake which got punished but that’s not the reason we got knocked out.