Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event
Wednesday 9th December 2009. The last time Liverpool Football Club played in Europe's Premier Competition
Not long before that date Liverpool were ranked as the number one team in Europe. Our record against Les Grandes Équipes was remarkable under Rafa Benitez. The league eluded his team. But Europe was another matter.
In August 2013, most pundits had Liverpool as an outside bet for a return to The Top Four - the target that has become more important to club owners than actually winning the league. Get top 4 and then the money will flow.
Since Liverpool fell out of Europe's Premier Competition we have finished 7th, 6th, 8th and 7th. The pundits said we had a chance. Even most of the fans conceded we were outsiders and that Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal and Tottenham were all ahead of us on paper. Even Everton couldn't be discounted given they'd finished higher than us 2 years running.
Les Grandes Équipes
Easter Sunday 20th April 2014. Liverpool beat Norwich 3-2 to guarantee a 3rd place finish in the league. Man Utd - out of the running in 7th - sack their manager to prove that they are no different than every other club in the modern era when it comes to pleasing the money men. Tottenham lie in 6th, already on their second manager of the season, with rumours that a third will be in place come the summer. Everton and Arsenal, vanquished 4-0 and 5-1 at Anfield in recent months, failed to match our consistency. Or in Arsenal's case, imploded in spectacular fashion, having led the league for the best part of half a season. Interestingly, Arsenal haven't sacked their manager... Yet.
Une grande réunion
Eine große sportliche Veranstaltung
The main event
3rd guaranteed. Not 4th and the minefield of an August qualifier against a fancied side. 3rd. Champions League group stage proper. We're back and with 3 games to play.
I know how I sound. Finishing top 4 has become more important than winning the FA Cup, League Cup or even the Europa League (UEFA Cup for people like me!). It's wrong. It highlights everything that's been lost in modern football. Winning no trophies but qualifying for the Champions League (or European Cup for people like me!) is what matters. The Arsenal Trophy. Success without the silverware.
It's how football works. European qualification brings in the big money to allow you to keep up with the rest.
Ils sont les meilleurs
Sie sind die Besten
These are the champions
Brendan Rodgers Tricky Reds. The sixth best team in the league (according to the pundits) lie top of the table, 5 points clear and with guaranteed Champions League football next season.
Chelsea next. A win against them on Sunday will guarantee 2nd place and end Chelsea's hopes of the title for another year. Of all the tests, this is the biggest one. Chelsea under Mourinho, as we saw last night, will not only park the bus, they'll set fire to it and throw fluffy kittens into the flames if we dare to come close to scoring. Mourinho. The self-styled Special One, who wins trophies for fun but does it with about as much class as a pink stretched Humvee. Maybe he'll park one of those in front of the goal too.
Les Grandes Équipes
We're back in Europe. The nostalgia has returned with a vengeance. 3 games left. Win them and I'm 12 years old again.