It was a day that was supposed to, and could so easily have, secured Liverpool’s first title since 1990. Apart from an infamous slip from their captain against Chelsea, along with a catastrophic nine minutes at Selhurst Park, the Premier League trophy would surely have been present at Anfield. But fingers cannot be pointed at anyone for failing to land Steven Gerrard the trophy that has so far eluded him in his career. Had anybody offered this to Brendan Rodgers at the start of the season, he would have no doubt took it. What the club has achieved should not be taken lightly – with only a fraction of the money spent in comparison to Manchester City over the last three seasons, taking them so close is impressive. The most important thing for the Liverpool fans is the return of Champions League football, it has been long overdue and is a necessity for the five-time winners of the competition. However, with that, comes an even harder task. It was the absence of European football this season that enabled Liverpool to channel all of their efforts into the title race, it is now the responsibility of Rodgers and the board to assemble a squad of players who can not only repeat their league efforts, but also challenge on the European front. Can it be done? Only time will tell.
There are two stats which will get the attention of Liverpool fans this season. An impressive 101 goals scored in the campaign, yet a not so impressive 50 goals conceded. It is this defensive record which has effectively ensured that their rivals 40 miles away clinched the title. City bettered the Merseysiders’ goalscoring credentials by a goal and conceded 13 fewer. Of the goals against Liverpool, 18 have been at Anfield – the highest amount in a single season since the 1998-99 season. Rodgers may have brought the attacking flair back to the city but he will know more than anyone that to secure silverware next season, the defensive area will have to be tightened up. The likes of Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson may be on their way out of the club and new additions will be on the agenda. Even City have struggled at the back at times, but on the whole their defensive surety has been far better. Both teams, along with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United will plunge into the transfer market, and how well the money is spent could have a telling effect on where exactly the Premier League ends up next term.
The disastrous second half performance from Alan Pardew’s men signified the second half of their season. Looking back to Boxing Day, all was going to plan on Tyneside. The club were placed in the top six and looked fearless, whoever they came across. Fast forward a few months and all is not so well. Players are soon to be shown the exit door and the fans have turned on the manager along with Mike Ashley – not for the first time. Before beating Cardiff in their last game, the Magpies had come off the back of six defeats, conceding 17 goals in the process. Not surprisingly, it is this form which has seen them have the most losses in the league through the second half of the season. They have finished tenth, and the fans will be wanting more, especially for a club with the stature of Newcastle. Changes have to be, and most likely will be, made. Pardew could well be shown the door, with murmurings of a certain David Moyes being brought in to hone his expertise. He may not be coming off his finest managerial spell but what he did at Everton should not be forgotten. Given the role at Newcastle, the Scot has every chance of rallying the troops into a feared side, once again.
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