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Liverpool's home season ends with no trophies
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It was just how Liverpool hoped to close the season: A Premier League trophy being paraded around Anfield with the players celebrating on a podium emblazoned with the word "Champions."

Only it wasn't the team's record 19th league trophy -- that will have to wait for at least another season for that. It was the Premier Reserve League trophy.

"Maybe next season. We will have to keep improving," striker Fernando Torres said after scoring in Liverpool's 1-0 win over Manchester City in the team's final home game of the season. "For the fans the most important is the league.

"We are a strong team and we can win every game."

Instead, the first-team players trudged around the soggy Anfield turf yesterday with nothing to raise over their heads except their children.

"You can't change anything so the only thing you can do is to try and enjoy and say thank you," said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, who is still recovering from Wednesday's Champions League exit at Chelsea in the semifinals. "The supporters were amazing through the whole season for the team and especially me."

For the first time since Benitez arrived in 2004, Liverpool won't be ending its season with a cup final.

Liverpool's bid to add to its 2005 Champions League title was ended at Chelsea on Wednesday. The Reds also reached last season's final, but couldn't overcome AC Milan. The 2006 campaign ended with an FA Cup final win over West Ham.

The team's guarantee of finishing in fourth place is at least enough to get it back into the Champions League next season.

The more intriguing part of the post-match parade may have been the absence of some players, including Peter Crouch, Jermaine Pennant and John Arne Riise.

"They were not in the squad today so they had the freedom," Benitez said. "When players are not in the squad they sometimes don't come here."

To reinforce the squad, Benitez will need the backing of the team's American co-owners, who aren't even speaking.

"We are working together. We inform them and explain our ideas and I think we can progress," Benitez said. "It is not perfect but we can keep going and try to sign players we want."

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily May 5, 2008)

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