Europa League preview: Liverpool FC face journey into Un-known

13 February 2010 05:00
Reds face journey into Un-known

AMONG the eight clubs that joined the Europa League in December were some of European football's more famous names.

Juventus, Marseille, Atletico Madrid and, of course, Liverpool had all dropped out of the Champions League and were ones to look out for in the last 32 draw.

With all due respect, Unirea Urziceni weren't.

Sounding a little like something nasty that might take a course of antibiotics and a couple of weeks to clear up, success has suddenly become infectious for the Romanian minnows.

Their rise from relative obscurity has been rapid.

Urziceni only won promotion to the third division for the first time in 2003, with promotion to the top flight coming three years later.

Indeed, when Liverpool last won the UEFA Cup, Unirea were a semi-professional outfit, struggling to make ends meet in the lower reaches of Romanian football.

Nine years on and they are reeling from the departure of the manager who guided them to an historic first ever Liga 1 title with which came passage into the Champions League.

Dan Petrescu is better known in England as the marauding right-back who won an FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup with Chelsea in the mid to late nineties.

In Romania, he is a national hero. He was one of their most celebrated players and was fast becoming one of his country's most sought after managers.

That's why his sudden departure just a week after Urziceni had been handed a dream tie against Liverpool in the knockout stages of the Europa League was greeted with shock and derision.

Derision at the club's board for not backing Petrescu, and shock at his chosen destination.

Source: Liverpool_Echo