We needed a win, got a draw, should have won, but didn´t. The 1-1 draw at Chelsea yesterday was Liverpool´s season in a nutshell. Our football has been decent, often enough the Reds has seen more of the ball than the opposition and created more chances. But when it comes to converting we have not been good enough. Hence no Champions League football next season.
Liverpool is now six points behind fourth placed Manchester United and 14 goals worse off goal difference-wise. Just two league matches remains and we must beat Crystal Palace 8-0 at home and Stoke 3-0 away at the same time as Man Utd loses 0-2 at home to Arsenal and 0-2 at Hull to get on even terms with the Mancs. As you can see, no dice. We are stuck with Europa League next campaign.
The performance versus champions Chelsea was quite good but far from great. Liverpool was slightly better than the home side but we missed a couple of gilt-edged chances and that was that with that. The only thing to aim for now is to give fans a couple of good showings and Steven Gerrard a winning sending-off. To finish fifth is not bad by any means considering the strength of the Premier League but nothing Liverpool should be content with. We haven´t finished fifth for ten years so that´s a bit of a novelty but hardly anything to take comfort in.
Last season ended in disappointment but gave hope for the future. This season ends in the same mood but with less hope. In a year´s time hope must be restored, I am sick and tired of having the losing feeling at the end of the season - after season. A top four finish, perhaps even a title battle, is minimum requirement next time around and also some silverware to enjoy.
Finally some words about the peculiar Chelsea support. They sang a song throughout about a player from their rivals and held up signs with his name. Okay, they taunted and mocked Steven Gerrard, but still, it was him they sang about and his name they flashed in the stands. I didn´t hear any song about their own Eden Hazard, player of the season, or John Terry, Willian, Branislav Ivanovic or any other of their players. None of the Chelsea names was seen on signs in the stands. Despite their champion status.
And furthermore, the Gerrard song was a Liverpool song they´ve adjusted, no idea of their own. I understand why José Mourinho is jealous about the Anfield crowd. Okay, Kopites sometimes sing about opponents to mock them but not hours on end and like Chelsea fans when the player isn´t even on the pitch. They have this season sang about Gerrard´s slip even when they´ve faced Sunderland, Hull, West Bromwich and Arsenal and all other teams.
Odd behaviour indeed. And pitiful when they could have gave their own players that vocal support instead. I think every Chelsea player hate that their fans sings about an opponent and not of their own.
Do you think Liverpool fans would have sang about a Chelsea player slip the season before if we were celebrating a Premier League title? Of course not. But, then again, we have the best fans in the world, Chelsea have not, to put it mildly.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 36th league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 4.
Could perhaps have saved the goal. In trouble in the air on a couple of occasions.
RB Emre Can 5.
Kept Eden Hazard quiet and attacked with eager and determination.
CB Martin Skrtel 6.
Effective tackles and lead the backline well.
CB Dejan Lovren 6.
Formed a well working partnership with Skrtel. Hardly any mistakes.
LB Glen Johnson 6.
Defended properly and was more involved in attack than in a long time.
DM Steven Gerrard 4.
Hit several fine passes but had trouble in his defensive duties. Smart headed goal.
RM Jordan Henderson 4.
Mixed god stuff with bad. Invisible in periods.
LM Philippe Coutinho 4.
Missed some easy passes and was not at his best. Some nice moves though.
RF Raheem Sterling 5.
Best effort in a long time. Moved a lot, used his pace but his delivery was erratic.
CF Rickie Lambert 2.
Too slow for this division. Lost aeriel duels, most significantly when Chelsea scored.
LF Adam Lallana 6.
A constant threat with his trickery and clever moves. One of his best displays in red.
CF Jerome Sinclair 2. (Replaced Rickie Lambert after 68 mins).
Couldn´t really get into the action but showed some nice touches. Promising debut.
RF Jordon Ibe 3. (Replaced Adam Lallana after 71 mins).
Made some dangerous runs but also lost the ball to easy.
DM Lucas Leiva 1. (Replaced Steven Gerrard after 79 mins).
No particular impact.
Two games to go and soon it´s time for a pivotal transfer summer. How we succeed this time will probably have effects for a long time. We must sign at least two players of the highest calibre and one of them a 25-goal striker. Do it, please, and give meaning to the expression:
We Go Again.