Having seen qualification for next season’s Champions League seemingly slip from our grasp, there has been plenty of chat about what the best possible alternative outcome would be from an underwhelming 2022/23 campaign. Should we miss out on Europe altogether? Do all our eggs need to be in the Premier League title basket? Would an adventure to the Europa Conference League provide a welcome novelty to add new silverware to the collection?
The professional answer is to aim as high as possible. This is the sentiment most managers and players will have their sights on. As things stand, that is likely to culminate in a Europa League place.
Second Tier Comps, First Rate Moments
It is an incredibly spoiled mentality. But when you have the success that Liverpool has had in recent seasons, within two games of immortality last time out, a jaunt in UEFA’s second-tier competition doesn’t quite get the juices flowing in the same way.
In reality, it should. The Europa League is the same competition in which Philippe Coutinho’s cheeky dink over David de Gea gave us one of our greatest European away nights at Old Trafford. This is the same tournament that a Dejan Lovren header completed one of the all-time great Anfield comebacks.
Those are moments we will cherish forever. We weren’t concerned about being also-rans or playing second fiddle to Europe’s elite. We were just enjoying the ride to the top.
Europe Is Europe
From that pedestal though, Liverpool is starting to abseil back down. What was once an achievement is now seen as an inconvenience. The lower rung competitions are an obstruction to the bigger picture.
When you have won the European Cup and Premier League title within the space of 12 months there is nowhere to climb from there. You can only continue to win them and we now know all too well how difficult that can be.
I have personally made my peace with all three options. Deep down, I must admit I am quite Conference League-curious. The idea of playing in a competition we have never been in before and clashing with teams we have never met is intriguing.
Arsenal showed this season that you can navigate the dreaded Thursday-Sunday schedule while still battling for the league. However, it may ultimately be their undoing so should be taken into account as well.
Still A Chance
Who knows? We may yet win our remaining seven games and sneak into the top four via the back door. Much stranger things have happened and the teams around us seem as desperate as we are to fritter points away at decisive moments.
Let me know what you think! There are passionate voices at both ends of the spectrum on this. Nevertheless, I don’t believe there is a definitive right or wrong answer to our “quest” for Europe. If it gives us another Coutinho or Lovren moment though, I am frankly open to anything.