After Tuesday night’s 3-0 win at Wolves, Liverpool have moved up to fifth in the Premier League and, courtesy of Swansea’s draw with Chelsea, cut the gap to fourth place to four points.
Admittedly, Arsenal have a game in-hand now and are only two points behind The Reds, but Liverpool’s improved form – reminiscent of this time last year – coupled with the return from suspension of Luis Suarez for the next match, has got us thinking about fourth place again.
The importance of fourth place cannot be understated, before the season started owner John W. Henry said it would be a “major disappointment” not to qualify for the Champions League. The American explained “our main goal is to qualify for the Champions League”.
The cynics may suggest Henry was purely thinking in financial terms after a huge outlay of players in the summer, but perhaps more importantly than that is the lure of Champions League football itself when attempting to sign new players.
Take Juan Mata for instance, somebody we’d been long linked with, who ended up going to Chelsea. He was never going to go to a club not in Europe’s top competition. Instead, we got Stewart Downing. Our signings had to be from a certain level of players – when you aren’t in the Champions League, you aren’t eating at Europe’s top table.
On the other hand, Liverpool haven’t won a major trophy since the FA Cup in 2006. Six years is a long time for a club of our stature. When Dirk Kuyt signed for Liverpool not long after that last trophy arrived, no doubt he would have been shocked if you’d have suggested he’d still not won anything almost six years later.
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Kenny Dalglish has shown the importance of winning a trophy by fielding strong teams in the League Cup this season – even in the early rounds at Exeter and Brighton. We now find ourselves in the Final, rightly so, and have a great chance of our first piece of silverware under our new owners, returning manager and the new Wembley arch.
Yet still you hear many a Red suggest they’d ‘swap winning the League Cup for finishing fourth’. It’s an interesting debate.
Arguably fourth place provides a better platform for the continued progress of the Club, but like a great man once said “Liverpool Football Club exists to win trophies”.
Of course, in an ideal world we’ll achieve both these goals, but if you had to choose one or the other, which would it be?