Liverpool, Tottenham and the not so appealing prospect of the Europa League…
As another season goes by, let’s look at a particular talking point as the final whistle blew on the end of a “topsy turvy” campaign.
The Europa League.
Liverpool’s season has been terrible there is no doubt about that. Even in Rafa Benitez’s worst moments they were still in the mixer with the “Top four”. After Roy Hodgson’s disastrous stint as the manager, Liverpool fans could hardly believe that their team were bumping shoulders with the relegation battlers of West Ham and co. Nobody could have envisioned when he was appointed, that people would star to mention the word “Relegation” and Liverpool FC in the same sentence, and yet it happened, there they were, and the future looked bleak.
In came Kop legend Daglish, out went the freeloaders. Multi million pound scapegoat, and deservedly so, Fernando Torres , went his own even more disastrous way. In came a belief and authoritative figure that wasn’t there with Hodgson. In came Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, both excellent players in their own right. The performances got better. The stability returned. Liverpool looked set for a top 5 finish, an unbelievable turnaround. The club was on the up, symbolised in the signing of Daglish on a permanent managerial basis. Fans began to dream once more.
Tottenham started the campaign in dream fashion. Mixing it up with Europe’s elite, the champions for that matter Inter Milan, like they were old sparring partners. The introduction of Rafeal Van Der Vaart a master stroke, the rise of golden boy Gareth Bale, legendary almost. They were taking the Champions League by storm, and keeping within touching distance of the big guns of the Premier League.
There Champions League dreams brought them to the Spanish giants, Real Madrid. And in spectacular, and downright heartbreaking fashion, they were brushed aside with somewhat ease by Mourinho’s men. That didn’t matter to Spurs fans; they had everything to be smiling about. This was surely the beginning of great things for the club, their Champions League ambitions were to go on for another year, and the club’s popularity, through the roof.
Yet it didn’t quite end that way. Tottenham’s form dipped in dramatic fashion, and they found themselves fighting for dear life for that 4th place, yet it wasn’t to be.
Both Liverpool and Tottenham could end the year with the inclusion in Europe next season, though not really a favoured competition.
Both managers talked about the prospect of the Europa League. Both had a different outlook. For Liverpool, it would serve as only a distraction from their resurgence. They’ve been there before, and they know that it’s a long campaign that takes them pretty much across all corners of the globe. They know that nobody sees it in the highest regard.
For them, they would rather concentrate on the Premier League table next season, and continue their rise in form and hopefully seal Europe, only this time, the “Promised Land” of the Champions League.
For Tottenham, or more importantly their manager Harry Redknapp, the Europa League is something that they had to achieve in a way, for their season of triumph and belief in the Champions League will be remembered as their one and only shot at Europe, and worse so, it will be remembered as the time when Tottenham got further than flirting with the top four elite, hopefully, this isn’t the end of Tottenham’s improvement and growth as a club.
When the final whistle blew in their final fixtures, Liverpool could stand tall, and aspire for next season, leaving their fans with hope that Liverpool will once again reign supreme.
As for Tottenham, they will have mixed feelings, getting into the Europa League; will that be a good thing? Will they be able to handle the demand of the league, the F.A cup, the carling cup and Europe? Can they bring in more top players to sustain their improvement? Or will the prospect of the Europa League serve too big a distraction?
Only time will tell.
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