LIVERPOOL - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has braced supporters for a close-season rebuilding process after long-serving captain Steven Gerrard played his final home game for the club.
Gerrard's departure echoes that of his fellow stalwart Jamie Carragher, who bowed out in 2013, and with Luis Suarez yet to be satisfactorily replaced following his move to Barcelona last year, Rodgers knows there is a pressing need to bolster his squad.
Asked if it would be possible to replace Gerrard - who joins the Los Angeles Galaxy in July - with another player, Rodgers said: "I don't think there is that."
"He is a player and a person who is irreplaceable for the club. What he's given over his time here and the standards he's set are second to none.
"We'll go forward at the end of the season and we'll have to plot a way to improve in the summer. That's our challenge."
Despite having pushed Manchester City all the way in last season's title race, Liverpool slipped in 2014-15 and have yet to secure even the consolation of a Europa League place after missing out on a Champions League berth.
But when asked if he felt optimistic about the future, Rodgers replied: "We have to (be). In my time here, we've lost a couple of players with 700-odd games for the club in Jamie Carragher (737) and Steven Gerrard (709).
"Those two guys have been monumental players for the club, so losing both of those is a big blow. Throw in a world-class player like Luis Suarez, and of course it's difficult.
"This year has been very difficult for us in many aspects. But the players have given everything they possibly can and hopefully in the summer, we can add that quality that the group clearly needs and take the opportunity next year."
Should Liverpool falter again next season, they should not necessarily expect Gerrard to appear as a white knight.
"I don't think I'll come back on loan after today's performance," he said in a pitchside interview. "I am going to go away and reflect for a few years and see what's there for me in a couple of years."