Steven Gerrard admits he is gutted to have missed out on the title, but has issued a reminder of Liverpool’s progress this term.
When the Reds beat Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield last month, it put them in a position where maximum points from their remaining four matches would have guaranteed a first league title since 1990. However, despite following this win up with an identical scoreline at Norwich City, they soon relinquished the initiative.
Chelsea’s smash and grab 2-0 win on Merseyside set the alarm bells ringing, and then Brendan Rodgers’ side threw away a 3-0 lead to leave Crystal Palace with just a point. All this meant that City were back in control, and Manuel Pellegrini’s side clinched the title on the final day of the campaign by beating West Ham United.
This means Liverpool have finished second in the Premier League standings, and whilst their supporters are naturally disappointed at missing out on a first league title in 24 years, they know Gerrard feels their pain. But the Reds skipper is eager to point out that he and his team-mates have made giant strides having finished seventh last season, and their first objective of earning a UEFA Champions League has been achieved.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” he told Sky Sports. “Personally gutted and gutted for the fans. They’ve been magnificent but we can’t be too down because it’s been a fantastic season and we need to bounce back for next year and try and go one better. The squad is growing and it’s moving forward and hopefully we can keep improving it.
“[Champions League] was the target but if somebody asked me if we would go to the last day in the title race I wouldn’t have believed them. It was our target the top four but after going on a run of 11 wins we got a bit of belief and we started dreaming. We gave it our best shot unfortunately we fell short of it, but if that point at Crystal Palace got us in the top four we would be celebrating for weeks now.”
The challenge for Liverpool next season will be to mount another genuine bid for the title whilst competing in the Champions League, something Rodgers hasn’t had to contend with this time round. The Northern Irish coach knows he will need to bolster his squad to balance this, and he has already identified the areas for improvement.
“Of course to get to the top four that was the aim,” he said. “We felt a real compliment that people seen us challenging, we have played some fantastic football, we scored over a 100 goals – for a team at this level is an incredible achievement. We know the areas we can improve on and obviously we will look to support the squad in the summer and then hopefully go again and we will be better next year.”