In a special end-of-season Talking Reds, Simon Steers analyses why Liverpool's outstanding 2013-14 campaign is just the start...
The journey of last season is something that Liverpool supporters will look back on in years to come and recall as being the start of a new era. The DNA of Liverpool Football Club has always been built on a fluid, possession-based attacking philosophy, and under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers the team has been constructed with that ideal at its heart.
For the entire season we were relentless in attack, and our success was built on a foundation of goals - at our best moments we looked like we could score at any moment. A lot of coaches will tell you that scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in football, so to have such fluidity in our attacking play is a strong foundation to build upon.
There were many great moments during the season, but the opening 20 minutes against Arsenal at Anfield was the period that we might look back on as being a defining moment in the club's transformation. During those 20 minutes we were incredible, Arsenal couldn't get near us as we launched attack after attack. The game was won in that period and in the process the belief spread through the team that they could beat anybody.
We haven't just seen an incredible upturn in performance; we have also seen a significant change in mentality. The work of Rodgers and Dr Peters in working with the players on the mental side of the game has reaped huge rewards as the season progressed; the collective mentality of the team has been a major influence in so many moments.
Although we lost out on the title to a more experienced and expensive Manchester City side, there are some great reasons why this season is just the start of the story for Liverpool that include...
Rodgers is here for the long term
The manager has to take a great deal of credit for the club's success this season. Rodgers will be the first to admit that he is part of a team that all contribute to success, but it is his vision and fearlessness that very much set the tone for how the team are empowered to perform.
Rodgers has complete faith in his players, and his coaching has contributed to real improvements in players. Under Rodgers, players are guided through a development journey that looks at all aspects of performance, including both tactical and mental. It is the latter that gives them the belief to make the very most out of the talent and ability they have.
One of the building blocks of the club's journey under FSG is the development of youth. The Academy is an important part of our future, and for the vision of a thriving Academy to come to fruition it needs a coach that believes in youth and can coach and guide young players to a point where they can realise potential. Rodgers fits that bill.
Rodgers signing a new contract at Liverpool gives both the manager and the club a sense of certainty about the future. Rodgers has proven this season to be one of the brightest, most progressive and exciting young managers in Europe. Securing his services for the long term was important to staying on the upward trajectory we have been on since his arrival.
The return to the Champions League
Both the owners and manager have said that we are ahead of schedule in our return to the Champions League, but the launchpad it can give you both financially and as the platform the very best players want to perform on can help the club take another giant stride forward.
As both Atletico Madrid and Dortmund in recent years have proven, succeeding domestically and competing in the Champions League is about building a team that is greater than the sum of its parts, and that is likely to remain Rodgers guiding principle when looking at recruitment this summer. But the return to the Champions League opens up a different market of players that will help recruitment process.
In addition to the financial benefit of a return to the Champions League, there is also the prestige of being part of the greatest club tournament in the world. Liverpool FC has been one of the great European clubs, and being back at the top table of European football feels like we are back where we belong.
The return to the Champions League is another reason why this is just the start of something.
The Fab Four
The foundation to our attacking success this season was built upon our attacking quarter of Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho. The exciting thing about those four is that it is only Luis Suarez that is anywhere near reaching his peak. Suarez has now established himself as one of the top five players in the world, and he is on his way to greatness.
Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho are all still in a development phase, yet the contribution all three made this season was huge.
It is difficult being a striker in the same team as Luis Suarez who often writes his own headlines, but Daniel Sturridge has been outstanding since he arrived at the club. Sturridge will spearhead England's attack in Brazil having scored over 20 league goals for Liverpool this season; his pace, movement and finishing give him all of the attributes he needs to be a world class striker. And he is only 24.
Coutinho will turn 22 in June and is establishing himself as one of the most potent No.10s in the Premier League. His vision and touch is magical at times, he glides past people and his ability to spot a through ball has added a huge threat to our attacking play. I suspect Coutinho will improve further and thrive in the Champions League; he has the potential to develop into one of the best playmakers in Europe.
Raheem Sterling is without question one of the most talented teenagers in Europe right now. At 19 he has everything, he has lightening pace, a great football brain, and he has an end product. Sterling has all of the tools to be world class; if he continues on this trajectory then the sky is the limit.
Our Fab Four is perhaps one of the most exciting attacking quartets in Europe, and they are not yet at the peak of their powers. Under Rodgers' guidance, there is no limit to how good they can become both individually and collectively.
The next chapter
The fantastic journey of last season was special as it was in many ways unexpected, nobody saw us jumping from seventh place to within a whisker of the title in a year. But it is has given everyone at the club a belief that we can achieve success. We now have the foundations in place to build on, it won't be easy as progress next season will mean the Premier League title which will be hotly contested, and we will no longer be an unknown or unexpected quantity. But we are well set to compete with the other top teams in the league, and that is exactly where we want to be.
We are progressing off the pitch as well with the club announcing plans for Anfield redevelopment.
All of the signs are that this season is just the start of the story, and if the journey follows a similar path as we continue to grow, it's going to be a brilliant ride.