Trophies are trophies; and European trophies in particular are something that sets this club apart from all in Britain and most across the continent. And so in a fortnight where we have to put up with yet more media orgasms over English clubs in the Champions League (despite, Chelsea aside, ties being delicately poised) we face Sparta Prague in a Europa League tie that is struggling to achieve the respect and reverence it deserves.
Maybe it’s the 6pm Thursday kick-off, maybe it’s the fecking around with an illustrious competition’s name, maybe it’s the shadow caused by the haughty, money-spinning Champions League; whatever it is, the Europa League is competition that Liverpool Football Club would benefit from winning.
How good was 2001? Cast those minds back to a balmy night in Dortmund and the greatest UEFA Cup Final ever – our first European trophy in 17 years. Remember that backs-to-the-wall job in Barcelona where we stifled Rivaldo and Co. with some tactical mastery from Ged. Then the second leg where Gary Mac put us on course to become the first English club to land a cup treble in one season. The rounds before with a historic victory in Rome and the effortless despatch of Porto. They were good times and they can be again.
How incredible it would be to see the King lift a European trophy at this club; it’s often said that the first trophy of a new regime is the most difficult to win and if Kenny can lead us to European glory we will not only satisfy players who long for medals but also instil that winning mentality and confidence throughout the squad that simply cannot be achieved from a fourth-place league finish alone.
Battling it out for the European Cup is where we want to be but we’ll be back there soon enough; if a short spell out of the Champions League is a disaster for the club, then we have the wrong owners. Winning that stunning trophy in Dublin in May should be, in my opinion, our main priority for the remainder of the season. And I know Shanks would agree. 1973, 1976, 2001 – let’s make it 2011 as well.
“Liverpool Football club exists not to make money, it exists to win trophies and be a source of pride for its supporters. It serves no other purpose.”