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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Do Liverpool deserve their place in the quarter-finals of the Champ League?

No. At least that’s what some Arsenal and ManU fans seem to think. And the reasons: Liverpool have not won the league for 15 years and they finished fourth in the league last season. One can understand the bitter rivalry between clubs often leads to some fans wanting their rival team to fail in the Europe (or in domestic competitions). This is common in any football league. However, to suggest a team is not worthy of their place in the competition, let alone in the quarter-finals is utterly absurd. Liverpool’s chance of winning of Champ League is very slim. Even the most optimist Liverpool fan would not have thought Liverpool would get as far as they have, with one boot in the semi-finals. However, should Liverpool defy the odds and do something spectacular, it would only be met with ‘laughter’ (in disapproval) by some Arsenal and ManU fans because Liverpool don’t deserve to be there.
The Champ League is an elite competition. I agree it should be the top teams who should be allowed to compete in the competition but it should also allow the chance for other teams join the elite group. Finishing third or fourth place gives them that chance. If they can achieve some success, fair play to them. They will gain experience and extra revenue to build a better squad. They will come back the following season stronger. Success builds success. And they will make the competition even better. We all want to see more quality teams in Europe so we can enjoy the game even more. If the team is not good enough and are not worthy of their place in the competition, they will get find out before the real competition begins. Third and fourth place finishers must go through the qualifiers (three rounds for some teams) to reach the group stages. Then, teams are drawn according to their seeding for the group stages, with group winners playing runner-ups in the last 16 to ensure the cream always rises to the top. The system is fair to everyone. If you are good enough, you are small enough to challenge the best. (People say finishing top in the group does not mean you get a good draw. This means there are more quality teams.) But at some stage you will have to allow teams to compete on the same playing field, on the merit that they have come through the qualifiers, group stages and have qualified past teams that have been put in front of them. If Bolton or Everton finish fourth, Liverpool should have no qualm about being in the UEFA Cup next season. Liverpool fans should have no right to feel they have been robbed of their place among Europe’s elite. Over a season of 38 games you have the opportunity to prove yourself you are a top four team in the country. No excuses. The team has to be consistent, grind out results when they have to and do their best with they have. (Injuries, bad decisions by referees and bad lucks ‘evened out’ over the season.) Whether Everton or Bolton are Champ League quality is one thing (and we would find out in the qualifiers) but they should be rewarded for the hard work they put in the nine months without the negative comments of them being in the Champ League. ManU felt they were hard done by when the draw for the last 16 put them against AC Milan. They demanded an easier passage to the next round. Why? Because they won the Champ League (once) and they are ManU! History does not guarantee you a place in the final. Otherwise, we may as well have the same teams competing every year. If you are good enough, you should beat a good team (whether it is in the last 16 or the semi-finals). Arsenal may feel frustrated with their lack of progress in Europe and may be jealous of another English side which had some sort of success. To reduce the number of teams (whether to just have Champions or to include second place finishers) would be wrong. There are more quality teams outside the top two. It would not do the competition justice. (They are certainly too good for the UEFA Cup.) As for Liverpool, the fans have already witness something special on the night they beat olympicos in the Champ League. They won’t be expecting fans outside Liverpool to give them support (they already have the best fans in the country) but should they progress to the semi-finals though, give them credit. Credit where it is due.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course they derserve it,any mancs or arsenal fans tho think otherwise are bitter twats to put it nicely.

4/13/2005 5:40 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liverpool have proved all season that they can perform in Europe. Look at the evidence.... Olympiakos at Anfield, Leverkusen home and away...
Arsenal hardly played one decent game in Europe this year and utd were completly outplayed in BOTH legs of their tie against Milan.

4/13/2005 5:46 pm

Blogger anti said...

No Arsenal fan thinks that way.
Of that I am certain!

Nice blog.

4/13/2005 6:04 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a lifelong Arsenal fan and the notion that Liverpool don't deserve to be where they are is bollox, they are there on merit, they have stepped up to the European plate when the supposed big guns have bottled it.

4/13/2005 6:04 pm

Blogger anti said...

what's bollox is the Thierry writing for elite bit.
We at Arsenal, wtf? have a signed 'post-retirement' contract.

4/13/2005 6:06 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Man Utd won the competition in '99, they entered as the Premierships' runners up.

4/13/2005 6:31 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

im glad someone remembered about Utd qualifying for the champions league as runners up when they won it!

Arsenal fans have a lot more respect than to come up with such nonsense and I would love to know where you read this?!

Lets not forget that Liverpool are the most successful british team in Europe of all time - they won the european cup 4 times when it was only the champions from each nation that qualified.

Im with the previous comments - Liverpool are there on merit. They have done incredibly well with a team seriously undermined by injury. What they did to Juventus for 45 minuets with such a depleated team should worry a lot of Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal fans for next season...

4/13/2005 7:07 pm

Blogger Skippy said...

Liverpool deserve every success that they get. They are now in the last 4 of the champion's league two games away from a place in the final.

I also think that Liverpool have the best fans in the world.

4/14/2005 12:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as i like what I read, please get one thing straight. I am an Arsenal fan, and have no bitterness whatsoever about Liverpool being where they DESERVE to the semi's of the Champions. I believe every other Arsenal fan will say the same. Liverpool have had to prove themselves and have come out very credibly. I'm glad that one English team will be in the Final, and I'm hoping it will be the Red of Merseyside as opposed to the Blue of London.

4/14/2005 12:16 am

Blogger Abdul said...

Nice article Berry.

As some of the contributors to Elitefootballtalk may remember from a recent late night debate we had, I have argued that fans of teams other than Liverpool will always have two mindsets to this matter: a subjective approach and an objective approach. I note Berry also recognises this in his article.

Subjectively, United/Arsenal fans will always feel an element of jealousy and envy that Liverpool have surpassed their achievements in Europe this season and are just three mathes away from being crowned Kings of Europe. They feel that their team should be up there challenging for European honours, rather than a Liverpool team still looking for consistency in the league.

Objectively, there is no denying that Liverpool deserve their place in the semi-finals of the Chamipons League. Juventus are one of the best teams in Europe and Liverpool made yesterday's game in Turin look like a training ground exercise. Juve never threatened and, if anything, Liverpool had the best chance to score.

I thought I would never say this, but I am getting firmly behind Liverpool for the semis as I would love to see Mourinho taken down a peg or two.

4/14/2005 10:11 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

I'll be reiterating something I've said in reply to ts' post on this subject. Liverpool have earned their current passage in the competition, likewise Chelsea, AC Milan and PSV (OK, AC is yet to be a formality but it is inevitable, surely?). One may not desire a team in the competition but they have reached there under the rules and their own making, and that is important in the name of the game.

Contributors, your comments are welcoming though I ask that words are kept to a reasonable level of conversation, refraining from using profanity. I certainly am enjoying the exchange of views, some of which may become passionate but we are open to debates for we will nonetheless form different opinions on some, if not all, issues in the subject of football.


4/14/2005 5:09 pm

Blogger Cestrian Red said...

Interesting read this item.
I have always found Liverpool & arsenal fans respect the other's club, history and achievements (contrast this with the Kings Road pond life).
Utd womn in 99 as reigning runners up, and we don't let them forget it, BUT (as a red [proper Red] gulp, but they did win it so credit).
Don't diminish Liverpool's achievements to date with chronic injuries, players ineligible & suspect Premier League away form.
Matches are played on grass, not paper.

4/14/2005 9:05 pm

Blogger T said...

I'm with Cestrian Red on this one. I have always remarked on the sportsmanship between Arsenal and Liverpool- players and fans respectively.

I do not begrudge Liverpool their success in this years champs league.

I may believe that fourth place should not be allowed a place there in the first place, but that is a different issue.

When you are in there you have an equal right to win the comp, and at the moment the Pool are giving their best shot in achieving this ultimate aim.

When Arsene watches Liverpool in Europe I wonder what he thinks? Who can be my Biscan!??

Thanks Redsman for your request re conduct. We appreicate and welcome your responses; keep them coming and lets make this site THE place to write solidly about football. But lets keep the language solid too, thanks.

4/15/2005 3:15 pm


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