The Premier League season drew to a close after being stretched for almost a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The longest season in Premier League history culminated in Liverpool winning the title, a result that was never in doubt even before March when the campaign was halted.
On the final day, it was all about the European qualification and the relegation battle. Chelsea and Manchester United grabbed the all-important Champions League spots, while Leicester City had to settle for a Europa League place.
Tottenham Hotspur edged into the top six to claim the second Europa League place as Wolves had to settle for a seventh-place finish.
It was the end of the road in the top-flight for Watford and Bournemouth whose five-year stay in the Premier League was ended with relegation. Aston Villa who earned a point away at West Ham managed to preserve their Premier League status.
After an event-packed final day, here’s how different managers, players reacted to the Premier League’s conclusion.
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager
On defending Premier League title and potential challengers
“Whatever people say, it will not be important for next season because for sure we both have to be ready,” Klopp said.
“We see United coming up. People thought they had no chance but we see with one or two players how good they are and how good they can be, and for sure they will not be worse next season, and now there is Chelsea as well.
“It will not be about City and us. For the last two years pretty much the top of the table was City and us, and City for four or five years before that.”
“I am very positive about my team but I cannot deny Manchester City are really good. That was always the case, and I cannot see the end of anything for Manchester City,” he said.
Pep Guardiola, Manchester City manager
On a stronger Premier League next season
“Chelsea have incredible guys there in the squad and extra now with (new signings) Hakim Ziyech and (Timo) Werner,” Guardiola said.
“That is why it is the best league in the world. Anyone can beat you and every season will be stronger,” Guardiola said.
“That is the reality of the Premier League. We are going to think about what we need to do to improve the team.”
David Silva, Manchester City player
On his final Premier League game with Manchester City
“I am emotional because I have been working with them 10 years,” said Silva. “I’m a lucky guy I had a lot of nice moments.
“Of course I couldn’t imagine when I came here to win so many titles and the way we won it.”
“I hope we can win the Champions League,” he added.
“It’s a pity we cannot play with the people (in the stadium) but the safety of people is the most important thing,” he said.
Jose Mourinho, Tottenham Hotspur manager
On Tottenham’s form after restart
“What we can do of course is improve. When all the players are available we showed in this last period where we belong. I don’t know, maybe in this period, after lockdown, we finished third or fourth in the table,” Mourinho said.
“So that’s where we belong. I want to have my team, my players, not a medical room full of players. I want a pitch full of players.
On plans in the transfer window
“Of course as a squad, the main thing is to keep our very good players and after that improve the squad.
“Are we going to buy 10 players? No. Are we going to buy players for £100 million? No. We are going to improve.”
On qualifying for Europe
“Of course everybody that one day plays Champions League doesn’t want to go back and play Europa League but it was the only thing possible after such a difficult season for club,” he said.
“Arriving 14th and handling things is not bad at all. I am quite happy next season we play in Europa League and it’s just a question to motivate ourselves for that competition and try to motivate the fans to support us and do something beautiful.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United manager
On making the top four
“From where we were earlier in the season, to end up third is fantastic,” said Solskjaer. “We had our ups and downs and it’s come down to the last game, it’s a wonderful achievement.”
On reacting after the restart
“It’s been a mini-tournament this restart and it shows. We are a bit tired, leggy, everyone can see we are not the same as earlier but we’ve had to go for it to catch so many points and so many goals and they’ve done it,” added Solskjaer.
On possibilities of next season
“For this team, it means better opposition next year and bigger games, we need to step it up. This season we’ve had Europa League and the chance to rest players, now we need to go for every game. We’ve got to get fitter, stronger and more robust.”
Harry Maguire, Manchester United captain
On Bruno Fernandes’ impact
“Bringing in Bruno in has made a big difference,” said Harry Maguire.
“To finish third in Premier League should be a minimum requirement and next season we’ve got to improve.”
Frank Lampard, Chelsea manager
On closing the gap to the top
“I suppose at Chelsea we have to be careful getting excited by top-four finishes, but coming into the job, I don’t think a lot of people put us in that bracket,” Lampard said.
“We know where we are at, it is a progress. Now we’ve secured top four can we look to improve to close that gap?
“The gap is there for a reason and there because Manchester City and Liverpool have taken it to different levels.”
On developing young players
“What we’ve done this season is take the opportunity to bring in the younger players and improve the existing players,” Lampard said.
“There were a lot of unknowns when I came in, could we move forward without Eden Hazard? We knew we had lost a massive player. We’ve a real spirit within the group now and it’s a real team effort now.
“The challenge now is to see what more we can do next season.”
Carlo Ancelotti, Everton manager
On Leighton Baines’ retirement
“Leighton Baines has taken this decision to stop playing, every Evertonian must be grateful to him, he is a fantastic example and had a great career,” Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said as he hinted there could be a future role for Baines with the Toffees.
“We want to keep him at the club, his knowledge is really important.”
Troy Deeney, Watford captain
On Watford’s relegation
“This is a reflection of the whole year,” Deeney told Sky Sports. “I will take the stick on social media but the harsh reality is people will lose their jobs because we haven’t been good enough.
“The whole top to bottom will do an audit and reassess. It is not just us.
“We can’t say we got it right because we failed. The bigger thing is for the fans and people at clubs because they will be here longer than players.”
On his future
“I will be having a knee operation next week. Clubs can go in different directions and players can,” he added.
“If that is my last game, I am happy I went out on my shield. I am a simple man. Did I go out and do everything I could? Yes. Was it good enough? No.”
Eddie Howe, Bournemouth manager
On Bournemouth’s relegation
“It hurts. I’m trying to keep it together. I’m really sad for the fans of this club.
“It’s small margins, there has been loads of moments during the season. As the manager I make hundreds of decisions and I haven’t been good enough this season.
“I’m not going to sit here and criticise the players in any way, I have to back them and support them. First I have to look at myself and that I will do.”
Dean Smith, Aston Villa manager
On saving Aston Villa from the drop
“I was brought up a Villa fan. It is a proud moment and feels better than going up last season,” said Smith.
“It was a big change we had to make at the football club. We had to build a new team, a new squad.
“We used the pandemic to the best. I lost my father through that period and there was a lot of disappointment, but we knew we had to work hard.
“I have lost my voice. I expect Jack Grealish to get drunk with me tonight.”
(With inputs from AFP)