Liverpool 2 Newcastle United 1 comment: Brendan Rodgers feels love of Anfield after exciting season of joy and pride

His side finished in second place, two points behind Manchester City


Bearded Austrians in dresses do not have a monopoly on masculine sensitivity. Love was at the heart of the piece on Sunday, pinned to the page by Brendan Rodgers in his programme notes and flowing from the stands at the end of a campaign that saw Liverpool rediscover a sense of itself as a football club, and of what the team means to this community.

Liverpool did not expect to be in sniffing distance of the championship on the last day of the season. They were, but more than that, Rodgers has made supporting the team a thing of joy and pride once again. The brand of exciting, exotic football fashioned under the Northern Irishman has transformed the atmosphere. This is Anfield, a place to fear once more.

The defeat here a fortnight ago to Chelsea and the inexplicable draw at Crystal Palace drained much of the significance from the afternoon. You can’t win them all, and after a run of 11 straight wins there was no apology required for the late stumble.

The upshot meant Liverpool were playing circumstance, not the opposition. It was perhaps ironic that they should fall behind to a team that has been barely able to locate a pulse since Christmas. That Manchester City were ahead at the Etihad rendered it all meaningless anyway.


It would, of course, have met the demand of footballing romance were Liverpool to have won the title for the first time since 1990 in the year when the tragedy of Hillsborough moved to towards a just conclusion, and the more so were captain Steven Gerrard, who lost his 10-year-old cousin in Sheffield, to have held aloft the Premier League trophy for the first time.

Football is a hard business. There is no guarantee that, after coming close this time, the trajectory of this season will continue its upward trend. Liverpool need look back only five years when Rafa Benitez took the club to within a point of the title against Manchester United but was unable to carry that momentum forward.

That proved the end of a cycle, not the beginning, the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid triggering the unravelling. The love that was once bestowed on Benitez is beginning to settle on Rodgers, as demonstrated by the response from the Kop, who called out his name during the post-match lap of honour by the players and their families.

Rodgers has shown a remarkable empathy with the supporters, particularly over Hillsborough and the families of the 96. His delicate handling of that issue and his oft stated respect for the history of the institution he manages has created a warm glow around Anfield, ultimately re-inforced by the action on the pitch. Those who were not persuaded by his background or stature in the game are coming around at pace.

In a Shankly-like address he said: “In many respects the defining feeling from this season has been an enduring love. It is the love from the supporters that has created the wave of feeling that has engulfed Liverpool. It has been the love of the game and our entertaining that has driven our players to defy the odds and compete for a title no one gave them a hope of competing for. It’s been the love of the Hillsborough families for the memories of their relatives that has inspired us and a nation.”

The applause that greeted the arrival of the team coach two hours before the kick-off was more like the welcome given to teams holding aloft trophies. The trick now is to find another gear next season. And the key to that is not so much adding to his squad but holding on to his most important players. On and off the pitch Luis Suarez has sworn his allegiance to Anfield, but that might be tested were Madrid to lay down €100 million at the door of the owners, Fenway Sports Group.

Rodgers can’t worry about that. He is right to feed off the optimism he has helped to recreate and deserves to dream big after the season he has had. “This has been a wonderful campaign, we’ve scored 100 goals, had a remarkable season. Congratulations to Manchester City but we will be back. 

“I came here because I knew the club had potential to get back where it should be. It’s a privilege to manage this club. Next season we have the Champions League. We look forward to that. We play to win. The philosophy will not change next season. There is no fear here.”

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower