My first thought after Liverpool lost to West Brom on Saturday was ‘Hadn’t Hodgson done enough damage to Liverpool’s season when he was managing us?’
The result was particularly hard to take because since Kenny Dalglish took over as Liverpool manager and Steve Clarke joined him in the dug out, our performances have improved significantly and qualifying for a European spot was a real possibility.
It still is.
However, with Tottenham now looking like they are out of the Champion’s League, there is less chance that their league form will stutter due to a fixture pile up. They’ll be able to concentrate on the league with the same energy as us. And it’s hard to imagine Arsenal, Chelsea or either of the Manchester teams self destructing and dropping out of the top five.
To be fair, we haven’t played with the consistency to qualify for Europe. Even under Kenny. This isn’t a criticism of him. He’s worked miracles and his aura has had a massive impact on the players, the fans and the owners. But it was a massive job that he took on and the problems at the club when he returned were not ones that could be solved overnight.
This season was all about halting the crisis, finishing as high up the table as possible and building for next season. That’s what Kenny and our owners will surely be concentrating on.
Some fans have questioned whether the team would benefit from missing out on a European place and not having to play so many games next season. They have a point. We don’t have the strongest squad and even with new signings in the summer, there are bound to be players who leave. However, I think playing in Europe is important as it makes Liverpool more appealing to potential new signings and a club of our stature shouldn’t get used to not competing against the best teams. Not playing in the Champions League is bad enough.
There are seven games left and they are difficult games. I wish I could say I think we’ll win all seven but I don’t. All the team can do is their best and see where they finish. This makes grim reading but there’s a bright side. There is a much happier atmosphere at the club compared to the start of the year and I’m not alone in thinking that we’ll be in a better position at this stage of the season next year. And as depressing as Saturday was, all Liverpool fans should be thankful for that.