For Brendan Rodgers, it has been a campaign full of gradual improvement at Anfield
So that is it for yet another season at Anfield, folks; don't worry, we at Bleacher Report are here to announce our end-of-season gongs.
There is a whole host of awards up for grabs, ranging from the best and worst players of the season, to the campaign’s most memorable and most forgettable moments.
Beautiful, just beautiful, and as good an example of a team goal as you are likely to see all campaign long.
Jamie Carragher’s lofted ball forward was delicately touched to Luis Suarez by Stewart Downing, before the Uruguayan deftly swept an inch-perfect centre on to Daniel Sturridge, who could not miss in front of a delighted Kop.
A moment of pure genius from one of world football’s great artists as the Uruguay attacker somehow managed to control Jose Enrique’s long, searching ball over the retreating Newcastle defence on his chest, before weaving his way past a befuddled Tim Krul and walking the ball into the empty net.
Not a particularly hard one to choose as the front man was not only the Reds’ star man in this campaign, but he was also arguably the standout performer in the Premier League if a player’s on-pitch deeds were the sole judging criteria.
If there has been a more skilful, imaginative, creative and watchable footballer operating in the top flight this season, then I have not seen him.
It's just a joy and a pleasure to watch this man in action.
A shared award, this one, as both these two young guns enjoyed eye-catching displays at various times this season, although neither could sustain their level of performance enough to earn a regular starting berth under Brendan Rodgers, but that could change next campaign.
Andre Wisdom, 20, made 19 appearances in total and showed enough to suggest he has a future at Anfield, although probably as a centre-back rather than in the right-back role that he is currently occupying.
Raheem Sterling, 18, was more involved, at least in the first half of the season, appearing on 36 occasions and scoring two league goals as well in the process, which bodes well for his future career development on Merseyside
Another chance goes begging for Borini, the story of his debut campaign at Anfield
Two goals in 19 matches for an £11 million investment in an Italy international “striker” says it all really, and just why Rodgers thought the one-time Swansea forward was the answer to Liverpool’s long-running striking issue is anyone’s guess.
The player may have a future at Anfield, and it has been encouraging to see the way he has contributed in an attacking sense from the substitutes’ bench at Newcastle and Fulham recently, but let’s be honest, there are 11 million reasons why Fabio Borini should not be playing for the club.
It says a lot about Liverpool’s season that their best display was only a draw, however, with just one win all campaign long against a side ranked higher than them in the table, you can probably understand why.
This, though, was a real turning point for Rodgers as for the second meeting in a row against the then-Premier League champions and their multi-million-pound star-studded lineup, the Reds were head and shoulders above their opponents in every department, bar the final result.
And this was more impressive than in their first encounter at Anfield in August when a late individual error from Martin Skrtel robbed the hosts of a deserved victory, coming as it was at the Eastlands fortress.
Again, it needed a late gift from Liverpool for City to escape with an undeserved point, this time from Pepe Reina, but this was a performance of real maturity and promise for the future by Rodgers’ side, which offers genuine hope for next campaign.
Rodgers is most certainly not the first Reds boss, and he will not be the last either, to have made the mistake of underestimating lower-league opposition in a one-off cup tie, with disastrous consequences—anyone remember Djimi Traore’s own goal at Burnley in a third-round cup tie at Burnley in 2005?
However, even when taking into consideration the under-strength nature of Liverpool’s lineup at Boundary Park in January, this was still a particularly insipid and demoralising display that only predictably came to life with the second-half introduction of Steven Gerrard, although not even the inspirational “Captain Fantastic” himself could save his side from an ignominious cup exit on this occasion.
The England winger’s performances this season compared to those in his debut campaign at Anfield have been like chalk and cheese in comparison.
Last time out, under previous manager Kenny Dalglish, the £20 million recruit from Aston Villa contributed precisely no goals and no assists either in his 36 top-flight appearances for the club.
However, this season under Rodgers, the 28-year-old has come to the party—relatively speaking, that is—with five goals and an eye-catching nine assists in 44 matches in all competitions after being threatened with a January exit from Anfield.
It just shows what a bit of tough love can produce.
The impish Brazilian schemer edges out Daniel Sturridge to claim this award, although it was a close-run thing in the end, with the playmaker just proving to be the slightly better value of the two at £8.5 million to the striker’s £12 million.
And, with seven assists and three goals to his name in just 13 Premier League games since arriving on Merseyside from Inter Milan in the January transfer window, you can understand exactly why the connoisseurs at Anfield are licking their lips at the prospect of watching more of the 20-year-old in action next campaign.
Allen has spent large parts of his first campaign with the Reds chasing shadows in midfield
Head coach Rodgers really stuck his neck out on the line to bring the Wales international to the club last summer for an eyebrow-raising £15 million, and unfortunately for those doubters, nothing that we have seen so far this season from the holding midfield player has allayed their concerns.
Yes, the 23-year-old was battling a long-standing shoulder problem that eventually ended his season prematurely when Allen went under the knife in March, however, that would only be making excuses for the player.
Had he been signed for, say, between £8 million and £10 million, then maybe he could be given more leeway, but now he really needs to make some sort of positive impression next campaign or question marks really will start to be asked about his future at the club.
This was an occasion filled with deep emotion as Liverpool played their first home match after their supporters had finally been cleared of any wrongdoing at the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, in particular for their long-serving captain whose cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was the youngest victim at the tragedy.
And so it was entirely fitting that it was the skipper himself who opened the scoring in front of the Kop against the Reds’ archrivals, pointing skywards as he celebrated the goal in what was a touching tribute to his deceased relative.
As losses go, this was a particularly painful one, even if it did come in Europe’s second-tier competition.
However, it was more the unjust nature of the defeat, coupled with the fact that it spelled the end of the club’s chances of winning any silverware for the season, that really stuck in the throat at the full-time whistle as Liverpool manfully attempted, and just failed, to score four unanswered goals in just over an hour against Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg.
So nearly one of those great European nights at Anfield, but ultimately it just ended in heartbreak.
If someone had said prior to the start of the season that the 32-year-old, who missed large parts of the previous campaign with a career-threatening ankle injury, would enjoy his most consistent and injury-free season of his 15-year Liverpool career to date, they would have received some very strange looks indeed.
However, until the Reds sensibly decided to bring forward the midfield player’s shoulder operation that had originally been scheduled for this summer when it became clear that there was nothing left to play for this campaign, Gerrard was remarkably on course to play every single minute of every single Premier League game this season.
Like a fine wine, the captain just seems to be getting better with age.