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Gerrard warns club over slow start

Though Liverpool finished third behind Chelsea and Man Utd in the last two seasons, they were never seriously in contention.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent, London
UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2007 05:41 PM IST

Captain Steven Gerrard has warned Liverpool they cannot afford another slow start to the season if they are to bid for the Premier League title.

Though they have finished third behind Chelsea and Manchester United in the last two seasons, the Reds were never seriously in contention for their first championship success since 1990 in either campaign.

"I've heard it said before that you can't win the league in the first 10 games, but you can lose it. That's definitely been true in our case," Gerrard said on Tuesday.

"In the last two years we've lost any chance of challenging in the first 10 games."

"You can't give teams like United and Chelsea the kind of head starts we have. This year it's essential we get off to a flyer, or at the very least stay with them far longer than we've done in the past."

In 2005-06 just a few weeks after being crowned European champions, Liverpool won only two of their first eight league matches -- but ended the season strongly winning their last nine league games. However they still finished nine points behind champions Chelsea and a point behind second-placed United.

Last season they won only three of their opening nine league matches -- but recovered well later in the season to finish third again.

However they were 21 points behind champions United and 15 points behind runners-up Chelsea.

Transfer Funds

Liverpool's ambitions have been boosted following the takeover in March by US sports tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks. The pair are making plans for a new stadium at Stanley Park and have provided transfer funds for manager Rafael Benitez.

Liverpool's bank balance was also boosted by the 32.22 million euros ($44 million) they earnt from reaching the Champions League final for the second time in three years.

Last week, the Merseysiders paid a club record fee of 36.0 million euros for Spanish striker Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid, with the prospect of more players to come.

"Since I've been in the first team I can't remember us making such a major statement of intent in the transfer market as this," said Gerrard, whose club have now gone 17 years since winning their 18th championship title -- still the all-time English record.

"In recent years it's only really been Manchester United and Chelsea buying players (that cost) around 20 million pounds ($40 million), so it's great to see us able to compete for players of that kind of value.

"We've all been looking for that extra step to close the gap and attract the kind of players United and Chelsea are able to afford ... that's what's so exciting."

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