Crucial night at Anfield for Liverpool as elimination from this year’s Champion’s League competition awaits, should the former 5-time winners fail to produce a result in their final group game against Swiss giants and competition stalwarts FC Basel. Having picked up a slightly less than impressive 4 points from 5 games thus far in a group made up of the current Kings of Europe, Real Madrid, and Champion’s League new-boys Ludogorets hailing from Bulgaria, it raises the question, would failing to progress to the knockout stages improve the club’s chances of success this season?
Though it might sound a little strange to discuss an elimination from the biggest club competition in world football in order to improve a season, there is some logic behind this. First of all, Liverpool are performing a long way below the standard to be considered a realistic threat both domestically and on the continent. In the short term, a prolonged run in Europe is huge from both a footballing perspective and the financial aspect. Yet if you look further into the future, it could also prove too much for Bredan Rodgers’ transitioning Liverpool side. At this rate, not only could they be eliminated from the Champion’s League with a poor result tonight, but may also miss out on qualification for European competition all together next season, as they are currently sitting in 9th place and already 6 points off of a top 4 positon. The knock on effect may be that lack of top level football could detract the quality likely to elevate a club to the next level in regards to dealings in future transfer windows. As a result, Liverpool may yet still endure another long and painful wait for such competiton should they fail to turn their season around. Which would not go down amazingly well with the Anfield faithful, having only just repositioned themselves among Europe’s finest.
Now without the commitments of the Champions League on a team that are unlikely to win the competition this season, it is clear to say that Liverpool could benefit domestically from realigning their focus. This may prove a beneficial step in the development of the squad for future seasons. A streamlined fixture list without the pressure and intensity synonymous with the Champion’s League could allow the players to maintain freshness during the course of the season. More importantly it would allow the squad time to gel as a unit, which in turn could provide a foundation to improve levels of performance, thus producing better results on a more consistent basis. Especially in a side containing so many new additions and younger, less experienced players. If this is the case, and Liverpool are eliminated, it would be no surprise to see the Reds climb the table in the new year, due to their focus switching to the more realistic target of achieving a top 4 finish come May.
I get the feeling that this season’s difficult campaign will provide Rodgers and many of his players with a harsh but valuable lesson in regards to competing at the highest level, whether they qualify for the next phase or not. It is still way too early to even consider Liverpool as genuine contenders in this year’s competition, and in order to achieve such success, there is both the need to add some quality to the squad, and to get the likes of Sturridge back to full fitness. Additionally, it is pivotal for the club to resolve the future out of their Mr Reliable, and driving force of a skipper, Steven Gerrard, who has pulled his side though large chunks of this season.
Though falling out of the Champion’s League at this stage may seem like a disaster to all associated with Liverpool FC, it may be what is necessary to change the direction that the club is heading in. If you are not convinced, just ask a Bayern fan whose side were greatly rewarded after their own Champion’s League absence, only a few seasons ago. And if Bayern supporters are not a viable option, something tells me that a bitter rival from a certain Manchester club could have a thing or two to say about the benefits of the rebuilding process without the possible welcomed distractions of those magical midweek games.
— The Blizzard (@blzzrd) December 9, 2014
— Michael Plumridge (@MikeJPlumridge) December 9, 2014
— Junior MUFC Wilson (@juniorwilson17) December 9, 2014
@i_am_kollins lool I hope so too. But that mad man is starting Lambert again
— Temisan (@TMSN_96) December 9, 2014
Would love to see Liverpool's resurgence in Europe cut short at the group stages. A draw by Basel will be sufficient
— Yee Meng (@JeffLampard) December 9, 2014