Liverpool needed to beat Newcastle United to have any chance at the 2013-14 Premier League title, and while the Reds did just that, winning 2-1, Manchester City's 2-0 win over West Ham ensured Liverpool would not win their first English title in 24 years.
The match started out in disastrous fashion for the Reds, as Martin Skrtel scored an early own-goal to give the visitors the lead.
Skrtel's own-goal set a somewhat sad record, as Fox Soccer Trax points out:
HT: Liverpool 0, Newcastle 1. Martin Skrtel's fourth own goal of the season sets a new Premier League record. pic.twitter.com/OPeRtnoZ10— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 11, 2014
Newcastle weren't particularly dominant before half-time, but the nerves clearly seemed to be getting to a young Liverpool squad that had struggled to play up to their usual standards in recent weeks.
The Reds pushed for goals in the second half, and in two minutes, their fortunes in this match would change. A pair of Steven Gerrard free-kicks ended up in the back of the net, as Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge connected to give their team the lead.
Liverpool pushed for more and came close to a third goal on numerous occasions, but with the stadium speakers informing everyone City had taken a 2-0 lead, all of the vigour and energy was soon sucked out of the stadium.
A hard-fought 2-1 win over a solid opponent like Newcastle is nothing to scoff at, however, and Liverpool can hold their head high as they end the season in second place.
As shared by the club's official Twitter account, the fans made their opinion about the team and manager Brendan Rodgers very clear:
The chanting of Brendan Rodgers' name from the Kop is absolutely relentless. The Northern Irishman applauds the supporters back at length.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 11, 2014
The man himself commented on his team's season, noting the difference in wage structure between Liverpool and champions Manchester City, via The Mirror's Jim Boardman:
Rodgers: "To finish second is an amazing achievement, although obviously we're disappointed."— Jim Boardman (@JimBoardman) May 11, 2014
Rodgers: "We've come second to the richest team in the country."— Jim Boardman (@JimBoardman) May 11, 2014
Still, the very first thing Rodgers did was congratulate the Citizens, via The Times' Tony Barrett:
Brendan Rodgers asked what his first thoughts are after the game. He responds: "Congratulations to Manchester City."— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) May 11, 2014
Per The Journal's Mark Douglas, Rodgers told the media his team did their job, which first and foremost is making the fans dream:
"We made the #lfc fans dream, that's our job" - Rodgers.— Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas) May 11, 2014
Rodgers also complimented Alan Pardew, per The Chronicle's Lee Ryder, calling him "perfect" for Newcastle's squad:
Finally, as shared by ESPN's Miguel Delany, Rodgers promised the fans his young squad would improve going into next season:
Rodgers says team "will improve", "12 wins out of 14 shows we can deal with pressure".— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 11, 2014
Newcastle ended the match down a man following Paul Dummett's red card, and the team is truly starting to take on their manager's personality, per ESPN's Janusz Michallik:
Not like Pardew would have credibility to lecture his players about discipline and composure.— Janusz Michallik (@JanuszESPN) May 11, 2014
Newcastle fans have been very upset with Pardew in recent months, and following the title celebrations in Manchester, some of them couldn't help but draw comparisons:
Man City players throwing Pellegrini up in the air in celebration. If that was the Newcastle team with Pardew they'd drop him. Deliberately.— Roddy Graham (@MrRoddyGraham) May 11, 2014
Pardew seemed to blame the loss largely on the red card given to Shola Ameobi, something he simply couldn't understand, via ESPN's Miguel Delaney:
Pardew: "I know Shola. Shola doesn't swear. I asked referee. Shola doesn't swear. How angry can he get if he doesn't swear?"— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) May 11, 2014
Per The Chronicle's Lee Ryder, Pardew refused to answer a question on whether or not the season had been a success:
The presser then became chippy, with Pardew refusing to answer questions from certain media outlets and reportedly leaving the room prematurely:
Much will be made over Pardew's future at the club in the coming days, but as of right now, team officials have yet to comment on the coach's position within the club.
Liverpool can look back on a successful season that ultimately ended in heartbreak, but the Reds were never supposed to contend for the title to begin with.
An extra year of experience for some of the youngsters and the added funds of the UEFA Champions League will go a long way into further developing this exciting squad, and the Reds will be expected to contend for the Premier League title once again in 2014-15.