Reds seal 3rd place “against all comprehension” – Media on Liverpool 2-0 Palace

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The watching media could only find positives in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, hailing a hugely impressive third-place finish.

The Reds eased to a professional victory on the final day of the season, to end a difficult season in excellent fashion.

Sadio Mane scored both of the Reds’ goals, finding the net once in each half and easing the nerves in front a 10,000-strong Anfield crowd – the biggest since March 2020.

Leicester and Chelsea‘s respective defeats to Tottenham and Aston Villa meant Jurgen Klopp‘s finished third in the Premier League, sealing Champions League qualification in the process.

Here’s how the media reacted to both the win and the season as a whole.

 

The third-place finish was widely lauded by a number of journalists…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the second goal during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo‘s Paul Gorst hailed a great achievement given the setbacks suffered throughout 2020/21:

“So this phantom season ends, ultimately, as a successful one for Liverpool.

“Incredibly, against all comprehension, the Reds finished third, which while technically their lowest position in three years, still represents a huge turnaround in fortunes for Jurgen Klopp.

“Perhaps it is only Liverpool who could chase fourth and clinch third by doing so.”

Goal‘s Neil Jones believes Klopp and his players deserve a huge pat on the back:

“After a campaign which threatened to go completely off the rails at one point, Klopp will be proud of his players’ response at the business end of the season.

“Liverpool finished on a run of 10 league games unbeaten, eight of them victories, delivering as their rivals have faltered.

“They will now enjoy a fifth successive season in the Champions League, and a much-needed financial boost as a result.”

Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph was another who took his hat off to the Reds, having overcome the rockiest of rocky spells:

“They say the league table never lies. At the very least, it is occasionally guilty of being economical with the truth.

“Future generations will consider the final placings in this most extraordinary of Premier League seasons, see Liverpool in third and consider what all the fuss was about in the Champions League scrap. They must delve deep to uncover the real story.

[…]

“Lest we forget, this was a Liverpool side condemned for being ‘bad champions’ three months ago; a Liverpool side which suffered an unprecedented six consecutive home defeats mid-season, and a side which had gone into lockdown a year ago as the world club champions, but looked like it might re-emerge outside all European competitions.”

The Mirror‘s Darren Wells mentioned the importance of supporters being back, praising Klopp as a gruelling season reached its conclusion:

Jurgen Klopp deserves huge credit for steering his club into the Champions League again next season with a makeshift back four and a host of injury problems.

“The 10,000 fans inside Anfield played their part too, and how Liverpool have missed them.

“It wasn’t the campaign any of them had hoped for and certainly one they’ll be pleased to see the back of, but under the circumstances, it’s an ending they’ll take.”

 

Gini Wijnaldum earned plenty of column inches on his last-ever appearance for Liverpool…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum waves to the crowd as he is substituted during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

TIA‘s James Nalton looked back on a touching second-half moment, with the Dutchman leaving the pitch to a standing ovation late on:

“On what now looks certain to be Gini Wijnaldum‘s final appearance for Liverpool, he was made captain for the day.

[…]

“‘Gini, veni, vidi, vici’ read a banner in the stands, where 10,000 supporters, along with his teammates who were able to give the Dutchman a fitting sendoff with a guard of honour.

“Being part of that Champions League, Club World Cup, and Premier League winning team; came, saw and conquered is about right.

“He was given an emotional standing ovation as he left the pitch to be replaced by James Milner, waving to the fans as he did so. They sang his name for some time after.”

Andy Hunter of the Guardian was another who focused on the 30-year-old, admitting his leadership will be missed:

“Last season’s champions signed off in championship-winning form, and in a position that strengthens Klopp’s conviction Liverpool will challenge again next season once their leaders have recovered from injury.

“The leadership group will not feature Georginio Wijnaldum, however. The influential midfielder and retiring kit man Graham Carter were both given a guard of honour by Liverpool players and staff after the final whistle. Wijnaldum is out of contract this summer, and Klopp confirmed he will be moving on.

“The 10,000 fans at Anfield serenaded the Netherlands’ international throughout the lap of honour and helped give Liverpool one final push.”

Paul Joyce of the highlighted Klopp’s kind pre-match words about his midfielder and claimed he played his part in Liverpool doing their job:

“And then there was Wijnaldum, whose contract stalemate meant this was likely to be his last game for the club.

“The programme notes of Klopp had been effusive in their praise of the midfielder.

“”We’ve built this Liverpool on his legs, lungs, brain and his huge, beautiful heart,” he wrote and there was a thunderous ovation when he was substituted in the 77th minute. Later there was a guard of honour.

“His work was done. For now so was that of Liverpool.”

 

Some are tipping a title challenge from Liverpool next season…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Gorst believes Man City should watch out, as they look to defend their crown:

“Finishing behind only Manchester City and United in this injury-plagued, soulless season of torment does represent a triumph given the obstacles in the Reds’ path over the last eight months or so.

[…]

“The Reds will not be hamstrung by the ramifications of a barren winter when Klopp begins to plot a route back to the top of the mountain next term.

“And given their end-of-season form – winning eight of a 10-game unbeaten run – Klopp will have every faith in challenging City once more when his injury list subsides over the summer months.”

Bascombe claimed this strong end to 2020/21 can act as a springboard for future success:

“Liverpool needed this for their status as much as finances. They needed it for clout, the suspicion being they were playing down the likelihood of long-term targets ignoring overtures had they fallen off the elite stage they had worked so tirelessly for five years to climb aboard.

[…]

“When they return to this venue in August, hopefully with an additional 45,000 voices, it may feel like business as usual as they begin the process of catching Manchester City.

“The last four weeks have felt like the start of that arduous process. If that proves the case, there is no question Klopp will stress the importance of this sequence of games.”

Joyce is of the opinion that Klopp may have title No.20 on his mind during the summer, such was the finish to the season:

“As for Klopp, he will also now take a break.

“A much-needed step back from the coalface where he will refresh and return for the start of pre-season on July 12 intent on showing that none of the setbacks, usually injuries to defenders, that complicated the campaign have dampened his enthusiasm to challenge again.

“Liverpool have finished like champions with 26 points from a possible 30. That is the memory he will have on his sun lounger.”

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