It seems a given these day; English clubs disrespecting the Europa League and fielding their fringe players throughout the tournament.
That's certainly the case for Liverpool in recent years but it's something they need to change this season. The last three times they've competed in Europe's secondary competition, the furthest they've got is the last 16.
But with the desirable prize of Champions League qualification now up for grabs for the winner of the Europa League, it's time for the Reds to start taking the competition seriously again.
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It could be argued that there is more chance of Liverpool winning the Europa League than finishing in the top four in the Premier League. I think most Liverpool fans would rather win the Europa League and come 6th or 7th in the Premier League than have a season winning nothing and finishing 4th.
With Brendan Rodgers still searching for his first piece of silverware as manager of Liverpool, the Europa League could help him prolong his tenure at Anfield as another tropheyless season will surely see him looking for a new job.
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Yes, it's nice to see youngsters and fringe players being given a chance on the European stage and that could well be done in the group stages. If Liverpool navigate through a group consisting of Rubin Kazan, Bordeaux and Sion then they've surely got to take the knockout rounds seriously.
Can they finish above one of Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea? No. Probably not. So why not prioritise a competition where they can actually win a trophy and achieve the same prize as coming in the top four?
Liverpool's Premier League form may suffer if players are playing 90 minutes on a Thursday and a Sunday but it's time for an English team to buck the trend and attempt to win the competition. It's possible as well. Although there will be eight team that have dropped out of the Champions League entering the competition in the knockout rounds, the teams starting the tournament don't pose too much of a threat. Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and Athletic Bilbao are probably as strong as the opponents come so there is every reason Liverpool can feel confident about going far this year.
It seems a long time ago that the likes of Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Gary McAllister were celebrating winning the UEFA Cup after an epic 5-4 victory, thanks to a golden goal, back in 2001. It's about time the club reminded everyone of their European pedigree which involves five Champions League trophies and three UEFA Cups.
What happened to wanting to win every single match and every possible trophy? Liverpool should start respecting the Europa League, especially as it could end lifting the trophy in Basel in May and a place in the Champions League.
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