Liverpool (a) Premier League
attacked down the left flank and Massadio Haidara pushed the ball through neatly
Gouffran to centre. Defender Martin Skrtel inadvertently kneed the ball into his own
net at the Kop End for the 50th Premier League goal Liverpool have conceded this season.
Unbelievably, the Slovakian scored four of them, also registered OGs against
Hull, West Ham and Swansea 1-0
"We was terrific. If we’d got that second goal from Gouff I think it would have been a tough ask for Liverpool today, cos we was in good shape. But we know offensively we need to be stronger and this summer we need to put that right.
"We've got to give our fans a lift in the summer by recruiting well....our fans are brilliant fans - they are just frustrated. For the first half of the season we were very good, but in the second half we were not as strong as we should have been. We made errors, myself included."
On the first dismissal:
"I know Shola. He doesn't
swear. I told the ref he doesn't swear so how angry can he possibly get? I
don't actually know how angry you can get. He said: 'If you carry on I am
going to send you off'.
"It was a shame. Liverpool then got two goals but with 10 men it was always going to be difficult.
"I thought our season in terms of performance was strong. We had a good game plan - the ref played a part in my view in the second half.
"He should have managed the game a lot better than he did. And we conceded two goals. He had a part in the first one by Vurnon. Then there was a foul from Agger on Shola.
"Liverpool have had a fantastic season and they showed their quality. If you give too many set plays away it will hurt you. Unfortunately we didn't quite do as well as we should have."
"At half-time I said to the
players 'listen, we can't finish the season like this'. 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 concluded their season in fitting fashion at Anfield on Sunday,
starting brightly only to then tail off badly as personnel issues overwhelmed
them - a fitting metaphor for their previous 37 league games.
The home side started nervously and it was Shola, clad in United's new grey away kit, who had the first effort at goal as he headed wide when unmarked. Making what was expected to be his final appearance for the club, our number 23 once again filled a hole, with Papiss Cisse en route for knee surgery and a quartet of Frenchmen absent (Loic Remy with an alleged knee injury and messrs Ben Arfa, Obertan and Marveaux all given official permission to start their vacances early).
Luis Suarez then cheekily took a quick free-kick that sailed over Tim Krul and into the net but Dowd never looked interested in allowing the goal and ordered a retake to the relief of the Newcastle custodian. TV replays confirmed that the ball was still rolling - just - and that the referee had his back to the play when the "goal" was scored.
Within seconds United broke forward and when Yoan Gouffran cut in from the left flank, his cross was turned home by Martin Skrtel to register an OG in front of the Kop, cause an outbreak of joy and hilarity in the away end, and see betting slips across the globe discarded. And the lead should have been doubled as Gouffran had two opportunities to find the net but squandered both, Simon Mignolet saving as Gouffran bore down on goal.
Liverpool's expected and inevitable comeback failed to materialise in the first period, Suarez shooting tamely at Krul before Daniel Sturridge somehow managed to head wide in front of a gaping goal.
With Manchester City in front at the Etihad Stadium, the mood around Anfield was sombre and incredibly quiet, apart from the noisy away end reminding Steven Gerrard of his crucial slip in the home game against Chelsea.
The home side made one change at the break with Jon Flanagan replaced by Aly Cissokho but the visitors looked fairly comfortable immediately after the restart. Obviously unhappy that the game was deviating from the script, referee Dowd then made some crucial calls that had the desired effect - the visitors helpfully contributing some awful defending to assist Brendan Rodgers.
Failing to give United a free-kick for what looked a clear foul, he then penalised the Magpies seconds later. That allowed Gerrard to curl a kick to the far post for Daniel Agger to convert and level amid general relief.
Up until that point, our defensive back five had looked reasonably secure, with a central trio of seeing Steven Taylor partnering messrs Williamson and Coloccini, leaving Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to warm up on the sidelines. At left back meanwhile, Massadio Haidara posted an encouraging performance to stake his claim for that shirt next season.
And within minutes an almost identical dead ball kick from Gerrard had been forced home by Sturridge, which saw various Newcastle players confront the referee.
Leading the protests was Shola and after receiving one yellow card for dissent he sarcastically reacted by telling Dowd he may as well send him off - which he duly did by brandishing a second yellow before the game restarted.
Whatever the player or manager's version of events may be, it was a senseless dismissal that ended the contest, although City scoring a second had already ended the Scouser's title dreams - something that the Newcastle support helpfully - and loudly - conveyed to any home fans who remained unaware of the fact.
Luuk De Jong, Sammy Ameobi and Paul Dummett entered the fray as Steven Taylor, Gouffran and Cheick Tiote were withdrawn. For Dummett it was the briefest of appearances as he clumsily took out Suarez on the halfway line and was shown a straight red as the Uruguayan rolled around.
The remaining nine men of Newcastle did manage to force a late corner but an unlikely equaliser was never really on the cards, despite fit-again Sammy showing some nifty footwork on occasions.
Five minutes of added time failed to see any addition to the scoring and both sides were greeted by a mixture of applause and disappointment at the final whistle that gave the game and the season a decidedly odd ending.
For United there was at least a shred of dignity to be salvaged from the opening hour when the game was an 11 v 11 encounter, with effort levels far superior to the listless performances posted at Southampton and Stoke.
Which of the fourteen players will ever be seen again in a Newcastle shirt of any colour remains unclear, as does the identity of who will be picking the team next season.
To the disgust of those berating him today though, the likelihood is that the current incumbent will remain in post, and given the bare minimum in terms of transfer funds with which to carry out a much-needed squad overhaul.
On that basis, those who have withdrawn from actively supporting the club will presumably continue to boycott matches - joined by an unspecified number of fans who will find other things to do with their time and money, restricting themselves to periodic match attendance.
Battle lines are now well established, with the financial prudence appealing to some mindful of the disaster areas that Elland Road and Fratton Park became. Much of the blame from the terraces attached to Pardew is based on his own misadventures and posturing, but like Chris Hughton, his removal would merely result in the arrival of a new apologist for the sport shop owner.
At this time and even taking into account that depressing bigger picture, we'd actually favour a change, rather than watch another slow motion car crash start to a season and a jettisoning of the manager before Blackberry Week to leave us in limbo between transfer windows. There's a stale air around the club and the squad that another new kit didn't do anything to dispel.
Corny and laced with sentimentality they may be, but Liverpool have managed to harness their support as a positive force - even if they were quiet for long parts of this game and ultimately disproved that all you need is love.
The contrast to our toxic, hateful assembly is massive and seems unlikely to narrow in the near future, with the local newspaper ban meaning that it's open season on the club as we wash our dirty linen in public week after week. It's hard to expect players to show pride in the shirt, when that commodity is in short supply amongst the fanbase.
The general sense of relief that the season is over is tangible, frustration at our willful underachievement barely suppressed and the outlook anything but optimistic.
A once-great club, now irrelevant in football terms and withering on the vine as the 60th anniversary of our last domestic honour appears on the horizon. Tragic.
PS: It's that time again, when we acknowledge the contributions of a whole host of folks who allow us to do what we do - as ever, your efforts are appreciated. It's also an opportunity to think about those we lost during the course of the season, and recall them in happier times.