STEVEN GERRARD is convinced that Brendan Rodgers' “bold” brand of football will help Liverpool secure a Champions League spot this season.
The talismanic Anfield skipper believes the combination of the new manager's attacking philosophy coupled with the hurt which still lingers from last season's dismal Premier League campaign - will ensure the Reds raise the bar.
It's a big ask climbing from eighth, which represented the club's worst finish for 18 years, into the top four but Gerrard, who flew with the squad from Boston to Baltimore today, insists it can be achieved.
“I think we'll definitely see a much bolder Liverpool team this season and more exciting too, but with a quick transition to ensure we're organised when we lose the ball,” he said.
“I think over the years sometimes Liverpool have come up against certain types of opposition and we have shown them too much respect. But maybe we have had to because of the style we've been asked to play.
“There were times under previous managers when we did that, but I think this manager is the opposite, he wants us to play like a big team.
“There's a lot of hard work and a lot of learning to be done sharpish if we want to implement that straight away. In only my second training session here we were doing team shape and Brendan was telling players what he expects them to do movement wise, how he wants the team to do the transition when we lose the ball to win it back.
“I don't think a team has ever gone from eighth to first in one season but there are still other big targets for us to achieve – getting back into the top four is certainly the priority.
“I think we will get in the top four. I am confident we will get it. If we can play like we did in a lot of games last season, be clinical and take our chances, I think we will be high up in the table.
“The idea is to improve and have some fun along the way in the cup competitions like we did last year.”
Gerrard, who flew out to the States to begin pre-season training on Tuesday following four weeks off after his outstanding performances for England at Euro 2012, admits the memories of last season are still fresh.
The 32-year-old fulfilled a lifelong ambition when he lifted the Carling Cup at Wembley. The Reds also reached the FA Cup final but in the league they floundered badly.
They won just six of their 19 home games and amassed just 52 points. Kenny Dalglish ultimately paid the price as he was relieved of his duties.
“It was difficult to make sense of it at times,” said Gerrard.
“There were times you would come off thinking 'no wonder we are sixth, seventh or eighth in the league' as we hadn’t played well enough.
“But there were times when we murdered teams. We hadn’t come off with what we deserved.
“It was frustrating but if you look at the season as a whole, you can’t make excuses for finishing eighth. It wasn’t good enough.
“We are Liverpool, we can’t finish eighth. We have got to take the criticism for under-performing last year and put it right.
“We can’t be doing post-match interviews saying 'we should have got the points or we were not clinical enough'. We have got to be clinical. We have got to get the points we should get.
“The players have got to think how I think and use the hurt of what happened to make up for last year. That is the only way you can do it.”
This will be Liverpool's third successive year outside the Champions League and their continued absence from the competition has led to speculation that the likes of Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez could be lured elsewhere.
Gerrard has urged the squad to stick together and achieve their goals collectively.
“I can't speak for anyone else but if they ask for my opinion I would tell them to be patient,” he said.
“Obviously I am biased but I think playing Champions League football for this club would be more special than anywhere else.
“If we work hard enough and perform well enough it will come.”
Gerrard may only have linked up with his team-mates this week but he has been in close contact with Rodgers since the Northern Irishman's appointment last month.
Rodgers has set out his vision for taking Liverpool forward and the midfielder is relishing the prospect of being a key part of it.
“The manager has been in touch with me from since he came in,” Gerrard said.
“I've had a lot of banter with text messages and quite a few calls throughout the Euros. He has made me aware of where he's at and what he's trying to do.
“Every time you speak to him you can't help but be impressed. He gives you a lift. His man-management skills are fantastic and if he can do that with all the players around the squad then it can be really good for the club.
“I've only seen him on the training ground for a few days, but as a guy how he's dealt with me on a personal level has been exceptional. I know the players who have worked with him over the past few weeks have been impressed.”
As he starts work with his fourth Liverpool manager in the space of 25 months, Gerrard is hoping for a period of calm at Anfield.
“Stability is what every club needs,” he added.
“While there was shock and disappointment when Kenny went, you understood the decision. Kenny knows himself that when Liverpool finish eighth, the owners and supporters are going to ask questions.
“You move on with what the club wanted to do and they wanted Brendan Rodgers in. They wanted a young manager with a vision for the long-term.
“They want him to bring stability and that is hopefully what will happen.”