Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson says that he had a feeling his team would clinch their place in the top four with the support of returning fans.
Ten thousand supporters returned to Anfield to watch the Reds beat Crystal Palace 2-0. Jurgen Klopp’s men ended up finishing third, despite big concerns about a top-four finish earlier in the season. Indeed, Chelsea lost to Aston Villa while Tottenham defeated Leicester to open up the possibility.
However, Liverpool still had to walk through that door and while they created chances in the first half, it seemed uncertain whether the crucial opening goal would arrive.
However, a transformed Sadio Mane grabbed both goals to ensure his side will play Champions League football again next season.
Liverpool’s resurgence in recent weeks has proved remarkable; they sat eighth with 10 games to go after losing six on the bounce at Anfield. However, they won eight and drew two of their remaining fixtures to seal a strong end to a rollercoaster season.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Henderson said: “It was important for us to qualify for the Champions League. With everything we’ve experienced through this season, I think at the end of the day, it’s a good outcome for us to finish in the Champions League.
“At points in the season, people probably didn’t think we would, but the last seven, eight, nine or 10 games or so, the performance levels have been better, much better results and deservedly got the Champions League in the end.
“Today, I sensed that straight away, the lads from the first to the last whistle were brilliant and the fans were outstanding, so hopefully we can have more of this.”
While all Premier League teams have had to play the vast majority of the campaign without fans, Liverpool have felt the effects of that more than most.
Henderson insisted that football is a “different sport” without spectators.
“We spoke about it at the beginning more [having no fans], because it was a bit different at the beginning,” he added.
“I think you get used to it as the season goes on and the more you do it. But for me, it’s a different sport playing without fans – totally different, the outside pressure, the atmosphere.
“Yeah, totally different game altogether, but you’ve got to adapt to it and during the season, we didn’t really cope well with certain things, not only the fans but injuries and things like that.
“But at the end of the day, we finished strongly, got the job done and we know we need to be better next season.”
Henderson did not play against Palace, instead taking his place on the bench.
Nevertheless, his nearing return to action will hopefully serve as a boost to England manager Gareth Southgate.
Henderson hopeful of England role
“I was itching to get on, but I’ve only trained a few times with the team, so it’s probably not the wisest thing,” he said.
“But I feel good, I’ve been training the last few weeks on my own. Now, hopefully I can get fit for the Euros. Fingers crossed.
“I know I haven’t appeared for a long time, but I’ve still been working hard in the background, so I feel good, but I’ve obviously got to train, hopefully with England, and be ready for the Euros.”
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