The excitement and buzz created with our current form in the PL has partially marginalized the importance of the Europa League in which Liverpool compete with another 31 teams for honours, and which is our remaining hope of much desired silverware this season.
Next Thursday 17th we face Sparta Praha at the Generali Arena in Prague, with the return leg at Anfield scheduled for the 24th. An interesting fact here is that Luis Suarez is ineligible to play for us in the Europa League since Ajax dropped down to the competition having finished third in their respective CL group.
Triumph in this competition will be no joyride! Teams fighting for honours here include Ajax, Manchester City, Seville and Napoli (who play our same game and who have improved drastically since we meet them twice in the group stage), just to mention other probably candidates for the final. It is a target which is very achievable for the Reds if we maintain the current momentum.
By the time the final is due to be played on 18th May at the 51,700 capacity Aviva Stadium in Dublin (just across the Irish Sea from Merseyside), Liverpool would be playing a hopefully crucial game at Anfield with Tottenham for the coveted 4th spot on the 15th, and will then need to nail the spot with the final away game of the season away to Aston Villa on the 22nd. Hopefully old pal Gerard Houllier will not go too hard on us, better still if it’s all done and dusted beforehand.
While all this remains wishful thinking at present, there is no reason why the Reds cannot achieve both goals. We now realize that the squad was not as bad as many, so many had proclaimed. It took a legendary mentor and a tactical wizard to turn the team from ordinary, to extraordinary in a few weeks period.
Kenny’s game by game approach could not be more appropriate. We don’t want to hear proclamations or promises. We’ve heard too many of those in recent seasons and remained so disappointed. From a season that until a few weeks was nothing short of tragic, we might see the rise of the Reds right up where they belong, at the top levels of English football and amongst the elite of European football.