Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has set his sights on next year’s Barclays Premier League title after falling just short this time around.
Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge scored in the second half to give Liverpool a final-day 2-1 win over Newcastle, who ended the game with nine men.
The victory was not enough to end the Reds’ 24-year wait for the title though, as Manchester City’s 2-0 win over West Ham ensured the trophy went to the Etihad Stadium for the second time in three years.
Liverpool were five points clear with three matches to go, but a home defeat to Chelsea – thanks partly to Steven Gerrard’s slip – and a 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace handed Manuel Pellegrini’s men the title.
But Rodgers was happy to have led his team to second in the table and he promised his men would fight hard to try to go one better next year.
“We would prefer to finish top, but we finished just behind them and that’s a great mark of the progress we’ve made this season,” the Liverpool manager said.
“We have just finished short, but we’ll be back. The goal is to try to win the title next year.”
Liverpool were in danger of ending the season on a low after a dreadful first half.
At half-time City were 1-0 up thanks to Samir Nasri’s opener while Martin Skrtel had unwittingly shinned the ball past Simon Mignolet to hand Newcastle the lead at Anfield.
Rodgers admits he would have been highly-disappointed had Liverpool not ended the campaign on a high.
“At half-time I said to the players ’listen, we can’t finish the season like this’,” Rodgers added.
“Because it has been a remarkable campaign for us and it would be sad for us and the supporters if we just went out with a whimper.
“The players showed real character to pick themselves up again.”
Newcastle ended a roller coaster season in 10th position.
Manager Alan Pardew was annoyed with referee Phil Dowd for sending Shola Ameobi off for dissent and for dismissing Paul Dummett for a late tackle on Luis Suarez.
Ameobi’s red was the most bizarre of the two. The striker was booked for arguing with the referee just before the restart following the second goal. A couple of seconds later, Dowd dismissed a “dumbfounded” Ameobi for continuing to remonstrate with him.
Ameobi insisted he did not deserve to get sent off on what may well have been his final game for the club.
“You can’t make up the way I was sent off. I still don’t know why it happened,” Ameobi told Newcastle’s website.
“I was given a first yellow card for dissent, but for the second one I’m ready to take the restart when the referee has called me back.
“He told me to stop showing dissent, so I told him that I was allowed to plead my case. I asked him ’are you going to send me off for trying to plead my case for my team?’ and he said ’yes’.
“I’ve asked a question and been sent off for that. I’m dumbfounded by it.
“If this is my last game for Newcastle then it isn’t the way I would have liked to go out. I’m quite upset by it.”