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.