Rafa Benitez revitalised Liverpool from 2004-2010. Fact. The eccentric Spaniard delivered Champions League football on a regular basis, whilst getting the team to compete for the title albeit without notable success.
This is by no means a dig at Brendan Rodgers. In fact, the Northern Irishman has turned Liverpool into an entertaining, fresh, young side that is seldom sending home the Kop with chip on their shoulder - more a kick in their step.
There’s no originality in saying Suarez has been phenomenal this season. But this season, Suarez has been phenomenal. Mignolet has proved a good signing, as has Sakho. Coutinho has flourished playing amongst other talented forwards (Sturridge), whilst Sterling has recovered some of his, er, sterling form. Everything finally seems to be falling into place for Brendan Rodgers and his side – even Jordan Henderson is playing well. However, is all of this enough to qualify for the biggest club competition in Europe?
Personally, I just can’t see it happening. It already seems that the top three of the Premier League has been decided – Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea – and not necessarily in that order. That leaves the rest of the, pretty evident, top seven. It is inconceivable to think that three of Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United will miss out on Champions League football next season. But I have to say, I’m sure Liverpool will be one of those unfortunate three.
The poignant statistic which gives me this state of mind is that Tottenham Hotspur’s league form has been ruined by the Europa League this term. It ruins teams. As a result of their European exploits, Spurs have been forced into playing on a Sunday eight times, having played in the Europa League just 3 days earlier – with away games in Georgia, Russia, Norway and Moldova to recover from. From those post-Europa Sunday games, Spurs have conjured a timid 10 points from a possible 24. Liverpool have not played one midweek European game, but find themselves level on points with Tottenham.
This statistic coupled with the media coverage concerning the two clubs just outlines how Liverpool just isn’t a top European club anymore. Anfield has been the host of only praise this season, whereas White Hart Lane has been ‘in a crisis’ - with most of the criticism of Spurs arising as Andre Villas-Boas’ tenure as manager came to a dismal end. There you have it, a club in crisis, and a club in success. Same point tally.
If the current Premier League table is what Liverpool FC now call success, then Oxford better check their definition for the 2014 edition.
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