Anfield roars despite Reds beaten to title

Anfield roars despite Reds beaten to title
Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (R) cannot save his team mate Martin Skrtel (C) from scoring an own goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Newcastle United played at the Anfield Road, in Liverpool, Britain, 11 May 2014.

Liverpool 2

Newcastle 1

The Anfield choir began the familiar song just before the fourth referee indicated the amount of stoppage time yesterday.

Loud, resounding and with plenty of conviction, You'll Never Walk Alone was sung as both a celebration of Liverpool's better- than-expected English Premier League season, as well as an elegiac hymn for a close but ultimately futile title chase.

A 2-1 win over Newcastle gave the full-house, 45,000-strong crowd much to sing and be merry about, as they cheered goals from centre-back Daniel Agger and striker Daniel Sturridge, as the Reds recovered from Martin Skrtel's own goal.

But most of them were also busy checking their mobile phones for score updates - in particular, a match that was just about an hour's train ride from Anfield.

Manchester City's 2-0 win over West Ham at their Eithad Stadium, however, sealed the EPL title for the 2012 champions, leaving Liverpool fans to rue their costly stumbles against Chelsea (lost 0-2) and Crystal Palace (drew 3-3) in the past two weeks.

It has now reached a quarter of a century since the Reds last enjoyed success in England's top-flight league, but if there was any sense of despair at another year of futility among the fans, they refused to show it at Anfield.

From the moment the players took to the field, the fans showered them with boisterous songs and incessant cheers, determined to let the Reds know that they still have their unyielding support.

Even West Ham's anthem I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles got an airing; anything to egg the Hammers on to help the Reds.

Predictably, the Newcastle players were booed lustily throughout, as if the fans believed in their role as the 12th player, harassing the opponents out of their natural playing rhythm. Predictable too were the sudden hush that descended upon the stands whenever City scored.

Any uncertainty lingered on how Liverpool would follow up on this season's rapid progress.

Will they struggle next season with the additional Champions League matches, or will their young talents go from strength to strength and mount another creditable title challenge?

But that is fodder for future debates. For now, the Anfield faithful will not be swayed in their belief.

This article was published on May 12 in The Straits Times.

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