The Libero - Liverpool fans deserve more than Europa League
Published: 25 Nov 2009 - 07:01:53
Liverpool are out of the Champions League, but talk of their season being over is horribly premature.
Even before the results came in from Budapest and Florence on Tuesday night, Liverpool had been installed as favourites to win the Europa League, the one trophy that any self-respecting club wants, no, needs in their trophy cabinet.
Now their name is actually in the hat for the pot formerly known as the UEFA Cup, those odds are sure to have shortened and the prospect of silverware arriving at Anfield by the end of the season has become a distinct possibility.
- Benitez: We have only ourselves to blame
- Debrecen 1-0 Liverpool: Match report
There are bright times ahead for Liverpool Football Club. At least that is one way of looking at it. Certainly Jamie Carragher seems to sit in that camp, having tried to convince us ahead of Liverpool's game with Debrecen and, more importantly as it turned out, Lyon's game with Fiorentina, that the Europa League is "a great competition".
Carragher clearly knew Liverpool were on their way out of the Champions League even before kick-off in Budapest, such was the near impossible task Liverpool had given themselves thanks to their car crash campaign.
As far as motivating his own side goes, perhaps his upbeat defeatism worked. Liverpool kept up their end of the bargain and beat Debrecen, only for their hopes to be dashed by the result of a game 400 miles or so away.
That's what it had come to - the result of a de-motivated, already qualified French team playing in Italy. And one containing Jean-Alain Boumsong at that.
Famous comebacks are usually Liverpool's forte, but with this one out of their hands, there was to be no fairytale turnaround against all the odds. And given they way they have played this campaign, they did not deserve one.
Instead the Europa League now awaits, with ties against the likes of Lille, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Heerenveen and European giants Red Bull Salzburg to look forward to.
Who is Carragher trying to kid? The tournament has been rebranded this season, but it is still far from the "great" competition he claims it is.
Indeed, the expansion of the group stage this year to include 12 pools has only served to make it even less appealing. Of course, the inclusion of Champions League dropouts from the next stage will make it slightly more watchable, but the Europa League is not the kind of trophy a club like Liverpool want to be competing for.
Certainly their fans, magnificently good natured in elimination in Hungary, deserve better.
The irony is that it now represents probably their best chance of winning something this season. It will certainly be interesting to see how much importance Benitez affords it, considering his continued insistence that Liverpool will finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, and despite his apparent inability to sustain a fight on more than one front.
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- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
- Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.
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