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TTT: Symposium #12 – Next Year’s Europa Anyone?

Given that if we are to have any European football next season, it’s far more likely to be the Europa rather than the Champions League, we asked our panel ‘Do you want us to qualify for next year’s Europa League?’, slipped into our protective suits and hard hats and awaited the cry of ‘incoming’. Here’s what incame; By Daniel Rhodes: Yes, with a few conditions: Initially, the first team donate all Europa away starting places to the u21s, there’s plenty of crazy talent to be developed. Rodgers deserves credit for how he’s managed the squad this season, finding a good balance between leaving key, injury-prone players out of the squad in the away matches and still managing to qualify from a very tough group. UEFA ban the drop down Champions League ‘losers’ from entering at the knockout stage. It’s ridiculous. It’s degrading to a once great competition. It knocked us out this year. UEFA rename it the UEFA Cup. Simple, basic, logic. Free advertising too, you’d think they would be all over it. UEFA increase the prize money and add a place in the following seasons Champions League for the winners. No, if these conditions are not met. So a resounding no, in reality. It could be a really effective compeition. It has massive potential, with some top quality clubs taking part. Whereas now, it gets in the way, too many games, too contrived and, more importantly, we could be in the pot with Millwall or Wigan. One solution would be a really close sixth place finish, by one point so we don’t qualify; or we finish fourth, again by one point, and get Champions League. I’m easy, either way. By Dan Kennett: In a word, yes. However what I also want is for the club to formulate and adhere to a “Europa League policy” for next season if we get there. As we all know from years of TTT debate, teams qualifying for the Europa League (or UEFA cup) average 63 points. In the season they are competing in the EL they average 56 points. What we don’t know is if playing in the EL is the cause of the regression or if it’s natural randomness. There’s no question in my mind that Liverpool as a club need to be in Europe every season. The revenue from home games is needed. There’s also up to £5m available from broadcasting and prize money. The games offer a higher standard for developing squad players than any competition bar the Premier League. Everyone at the club needs to be mindful of the scheduling impact (Thursday-Sunday) and the playing squad impact (travel plus one day less recovery time generally). However all of this can be overcome through good planning. The squad next season should be bigger and this should support meticulous forward planning to mitigate the potential risks on Sunday Premier League games. I’d like an “EL policy” to cover the exclusion of certain players who are susceptible to soft-tissue injuries, exclusion of key players deemed “critical” for Premier League success and wholesale rotation from Thursday to Sunday (e.g. 8 to 10 outfield players), especially after away games. By Chris Rowland: In favour: some European football, which is embedded in the soul of our club and makes us that more attractive to players (new and existing) than having none (if nowhere near as attractive as the CL). It brings in some cash (if nowhere near as much as the CL). It’s another chance of winning a trophy. With a few additions to the squad over summer and a few of our youths kicking a the door for a chance, we should have a squad capable of handling it. Against: Thursday nights/Sunday PL games. And the big one – does it harm, our chances of finishing top 4?  Well that rather depends on whether we have one anyway. If we haven’t, we may as well try and win a European trophy. If we have, that’s another matter. And of course, nobody can know whether we have or not in advance. Like cats seeing in colour, it’s impossible to prove! Of course UEFA need to do something with the EL. Stop the parachuters-in from the CL, make the winners qualify for the CL, that would be a big stride in the right direction. I’d like something done about the Thursday night and the knock-on Sunday PL matches too, but if the EL shared nights with the CL I guess it doesn’t get any TV rights anymore. By Damien Parsonage: Do you want us to qualify for next year’s Europa? Not really. From a selfish perspective, and like an 8-year old, I want us to have a game every night.  So I can watch us every night. Trouble is, I also want us to win the league title and the Champions League again, and playing Mickey Mouse games all the time with a limited squad makes that harder. I’m a believer in the vicious circle narrative around the top 4: to attract top players you need to be in the Champions League. To get into the Champions League you need top players. To attract those top players you need to be in the Champions League.  And so on … Every year we’re out, I think it will be harder for us to get back in. Not impossible. But harder and harder.  For me, the Europa League just gets in the way. Are there any positives?  It’s such a devalued competition that even winning it seems a bit ‘meh’.   And you have to win about 700 games to reach the final. Does it give our players and manager ‘European experience’?  Maybe. But to what end, if it gets in the way of our reaching the Champions League? BR has picked very strong teams this season for Europa games.  Next season, I’d rather those players were focusing on getting us into the top 4, rather than getting injured or knackered scraping us into the last 16 of the Europa, where we’ll face a rampant Milan or Atletico fresh from the Champions League. Europa League?  Meh. The rest of this article is for Subscribers only. Member-only content – you need to subscribe to read it ! A subscription costs only £3.50 per month. Find out what you get with your subscription, or Subscribe now.

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