Steven Gerrard reflects on Liverpool season, muses about Reds’ future

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Liverpool may have beat Newcastle 2-1 to finish up their season, but the Reds had already let the Premier League title slip away. Sure enough, Manchester City’s win over Newcastle meant it was the Citizens throwing the championship party at close of business on Sunday.

But that’s not to say that Liverpool didn’t have a fantastic season. Consider this: last year Liverpool finished 7th, 14 points back of a Champions League position. Now they’re in second, are headed to Europe’s premier tournament and did it all while scoring 101 goals along the way.

It’s no wonder, then, that Steven Gerrard sounded rather optimistic when speaking after the match:

If someone had said to me that we would go into the last game with a slim chance of winning the league I’d have taken that at the start of the season. We have been unlucky – we gave it a great shot, but we fell a little bit short. But what do we do? We dust ourselves down and go again.

Liverpool know that they have some areas in which they need to improve – certainly the penultimate game, in which Palace came back, in the last fifteen minutes, from 3-0 down to draw 3-3, showed that was the case. Their defense away from home needs to be strengthened and lapses in concentration need to be reduced.

But that doesn’t stop the Liverpool captain from believing that, come next season, his side will be capable of proving themselves the best team in the league:

I believe the title is not too far away if we continue to produce performances like we have done this season. If we add to this team and the squad in the right areas we are capable of challenging. We are genuine title contenders before a ball is kicked next year, and we need to go and prove that we’re the top side in the league over 38 games, and not second.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer clubs, players and personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.