No sooner had the final whistle gone after the comprehensive win over Man Utd at Old Trafford and there was the familiar sound of envious spite that so often follows a victory nowadays. Rival fans could be heard trailing out the well-trodden line that Liverpool wouldn’t be doing nearly so well if they were playing in Europe this season.
Whilst there is undoubtedly some truth in this, the fact that opposing supporters, players and managers are so keen to point this out only serves as extra proof of the great job Brendan Rodgers is doing. And whether the lack of European fixtures is a factor or not, at best the moaning comes across as envy and at worst jealousy. Surely the whole point of competing in the Premier League is to qualify for Europe and ultimately the Champions League? Everyone connected with Liverpool Football club would love to be involved in Europe’s most prestigious competition this year – it’s been far too long without European nights at Anfield.
An even more bizarre comment coming from some quarters is how this is the weakest Premier League for years. That’s right – people connected with other clubs are slating their own teams in order to try and diminish the achievements of Liverpool. Forgive me for taking an objectionable point of view, but this just seems like sour grapes.
Chelsea, whilst not pretty on the eye, are a strong side who should progress in the Champions League this week. Manchester City have one of the strongest squads in the world and they were being touted as the best team in Europe earlier in the season when they were scoring goals for fun. Arsenal have some top players and continue to play attractive football. And as pleasing as it is to see Utd struggling after so many years of dominance, they also have some good players. They are in an obvious transitional stage and their manager seems out of his depth but on their day they can still turn teams over. Throw Spurs and Everton into the mix and that’s seven teams competing for European places. I’m struggling to think of any other league that’s as competitive as England’s top division. This season has also seen so-called top sides drop points against teams like Southampton, Newcastle, Aston Villa and West Brom.
The fact that Rodgers has inspired this ‘us and them’ mentality by harnessing a small, tight-knit squad and creating an exciting team who play attacking, expansive football speaks volumes. He hasn’t needed to use any of the antics that Mourinho regularly employs. But this mentality could be vital in the run in. I sense that there is a real belief in the Liverpool squad. They know that not many neutrals gave the team a chance of the league this season but they also know that they do now have a chance. And they seem hungry to take it. Every game is must-win if Liverpool are to be crowned Champions but the team keeps passing each test. Hopefully they can pass the next nine.