Forget Champ League, There is a bigger League to fight for.
Liverpool quietly made it to the last eight, with great ease than Pool fans expected. Credit to the boys, they done the team pround. Helped by Dudek’s mistake and boasting a great home record in Europe, Leverkusen went into the second leg looking to give Liverpool a tough game. But the Leverkusen onslaught never materialised. Liverpool started positively and pressed forward at every opportunity. Leverkusen’s defence did not look solid, Baros and Garcia were allowed time and space far too often throughout the game. On another day, they may have got a hat-trick each. They never really threaten the Liverpool defence, the midfield also doing a great job. And when they did get a chance, the shots did not trouble even the comical Dudek. It just was not going to be their day. The Pools fans could sit back and relax, knowing this is one they can enjoy. They don’t know when it’s going to come around again …it could be some time.
It would nice to get a good draw, but as we all know there no easy games at this stage. Well, some games will be easier than others so I will be happy with PSV. Rafa is talking about doing a ‘Porto’ and win the tournament. Forget the Champ League, there is a bigger fish to fry. Rafa needs get the team 100% focused on the League. Talk of winning the Champ League will distract the team from the main objective, and that’s securing Champ League football next season so Rafa can have the funds the build his team. No more talk of winning the Champ League. Let’s focus on the League. Liverpool cannot afford another performance like the ones against Southampton and Birmingham. No more excuses. It’s Rafa’s first season and Liverpool fans will be happy with fourth in the League, Semi-finalist in the Champ League, League Cup finalist, FA Cup…(I think someone told Rafa the League Cup was more important than the FA Cup. Never mind). However, the Pool fans will be looking for progress. They will expect no less and ask for no more.
When Scholes, Keane and Giggs finally hang their boots and leave Old Trafford (some of them in crunches, we hope), the new generation of players that Ferguson has brought in will find it difficult fill their boots. The goalkeeper dilemma is one that Arsenal and Liverpool also face. It seems that a decent goalkeeper come as rare as a Tony Blair apology. Southampton, who look destined to go down, have two good goal keepers, Antti Niemi and the impressive young Paul Smith. No doubt Niemi will be snapped up by one of the big teams.
For Arsenal, it’s another season of Euro failure. It’s seven years since Arsene took over at Highbury and while domestically they have done great, they just never looked to master Europe. It took ManU years of hard work and experience, getting kicked in the backside before they got back on their feet and applied their experience the following season. However, with ManU they made important progress every season. And then cometh the day, cometh the men, with lady luck on their side. It brought joy to thousands. (It also brought misery to millions). Arsenal seem to be stuck in second gear and losing their way around in Europe. At least, Arsenal fans can look forward to another Eurotrip next season, rest assured that Arsene’s soul won’t rest until he brings the Holy Grail to Highbury. Arsene may feel that injuries have restricted his team’s potential and I just heard Jonathan Pierce in MOTD say Arsene never had an opportunity to play his first eleven this season. The first eleven may win you a game but it’s the squad that wins you the League and Champ League. Spend. Spend. Spend. If not now, when?