Rodgers must learn
Reds boss must reflect on mistakes and come back stronger next season
(Daniel Agger 63, Daniel Sturridge 65)
(Martin Skrtel 20-og)
Alas, there was to be no final twist to a dramatic campaign.
There was one last gutsy fightback left in Liverpool's tank, however.
After falling behind to Newcastle via a Martin Skrtel own-goal at Anfield yesterday, the Reds stormed back in the second half and got their goals through Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge to register a 2-1 victory.
It was the most they could do to in their bid to lift the Premiership title. However, West Ham couldn't pull off a major upset against Manchester City, the outcome that Liverpool's hopes hinged on.
And so their wait for a top-flight title extends to 25 years.
As City held aloft the trophy at the Etihad Stadium, Liverpool were left thinking what could have been.
To go within three matches of the biggest domestic prize and then blow it, will go down as a bitter pill for the Liverpool players to swallow.
Manager Brendan Rodgers' biggest task now is to make sure that the pain is not in vain.
There was no doubt, going into their clash against City that the momentum was all theirs.
It was then that the pressure shifted onto their shoulders, after the 3-2 home victory over Man City handed them the initiative in the Premiership race. They scraped past struggling Norwich 3-2.
Then their inexperience started to show and, ultimately, the learning curve proved too steep for them to master.
For all the criticism directed at Jose Mourinho for putting out an ultra-defensive team at Anfield two weeks ago, the onus was still on Liverpool to keep their cool.
A win would have been lovely, but a draw was all they needed to keep the scales tipped in their favour. Instead, they went all out for three points and the Blues delivered the sucker punch.
Liverpool lost 2-0 and handed the advantage back to City, who had a far superior goal difference.
There was still everything to play for, though.
An away victory over Crystal Palace in the subsequent game would have kept the pressure on City.
It would have meant that City, to be sure of finishing first, had to go for maximum points in their final two fixtures.
And although City eventually did win their last two matches, who's to say things would not have turned out differently had they been playing under a more intense spotlight?
Liverpool were on the brink of a win at Selhurst Park, but then succumbed to naivety.
Three goals up with only about 10 minutes of the match to go, they just couldn't curb their instincts to try to make up for the gap in goal difference between City and themselves.
They imploded, Palace scored thrice to snatch a 3-3 draw and the lights all but went out on Liverpool's title hopes.
There was a touch of irony in yesterday's performance against Newcastle.
City were already 2-0 up against West Ham over in Manchester as Liverpool entered the final few minutes of their game against nine-man Newcastle.
By then, there was nothing the Reds could do to stop City from lifting the crown.
Yet, when three points were not going to be enough for them, Liverpool decided to play keep-ball to see out the match and secure the win.
Seems like they are learning fast.
- LIVERPOOL: Simon Mignolet, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jon Flanagan (Aly Cissokho 45), Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen (Philippe Coutinho 58), Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge (Lucas Leiva 79), Luis Suarez
- NEWCASTLE: Tim Krul, Mathieu Debuchy, Steven Taylor (Luuk de Jong 72), Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Massadio Haidara, Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita, Cheick Tiote (Paul Dummett 81), Yoan Gouffran (Sammy Ameobi 77), Shola Ameobi
When someone of that greatness and ability, it’s just unfortunate what happened to him (Steven Gerrard), but it could have happened to anyone.
— Brendan Rodgers refusing to pinpoint Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea as the turning point in the Reds’ season
We have already achieved our target of reaching the Champions League and any silverware that follows will be welcome. We must keep our feet on the ground
— winning the Premier League is just so difficult. — Luis Suarez