Which Is More Important for Liverpool? A Top Four Finish or Winning Cup Silverware
Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool skipper has admitted that it would be a fantastic achievement for the club if his side can win a cup double.
The Reds will face Chelsea on Saturday in the FA Cup final at Wembley, and the skipper is very much aware of the fact that another cup victory will not only add prestige to the club but they can look back at the season with satisfaction and claim it as a success.
Having already secured the Carling Cup, the addition of a second trophy will provide cause for contentment. However, the club has fallen short of expectations in the league. In fact, they are way behind in terms of quality from the teams at the top.
Gerrard believes that winning the trophy would allow an air of optimism and positivity at the club that could galvanize their league campaign next season.
“This club is all about winning trophies, big trophies, and the FA Cup comes under that,” the Liverpool captain said while speaking to The Times. “We will assess the season after the weekend. If we can look back and say we have won two cups, then we will be happy.
“Silverware is success. That’s why we play the game. Some of the biggest experiences we have had over the years is from winning cups — the European Cup, the FA Cup, the Uefa Cup, the Carling Cup. Those are the nights and days that you look back on with fond memories.
“The FA Cup is special, but we got a taste of success from winning the Carling Cup. That will help the younger players in the squad. Winning breeds confidence and you want more. That’s what we want on Saturday. But we need to address the problem of our league position. We hope it can kick-start us for next season. We are all aware we have underachieved in the league and the squad of players is certainly better than where we are.
“We will assess the season and if we win two trophies, I think it would alleviate the pressure slightly. People will judge us after Saturday. People will say, ‘You haven’t done well in the league,’ but we can say, ‘Yes, but we have won two cups.’ I think that’s a fair argument.”
Very fine, but how important it is for Liverpool to break into the top four than winning cups?
Winning silverware is the ultimate aim for any club participating in a competition. For Liverpool, it is more than apt. The club was used to winning silverware on an annual basis and they have made their name in England and Europe by virtue of their winning mentality.
But football has changed since those halcyon 1980′s. It has reached a stage where football is merged with business. In a cut-throat competition, staying financially stable is also an achievement that is considered a success.
Putting it simply, Champions League qualification fetches significantly more money and hence it is impertinent to qualify for Europe. Liverpool fans proudly flaunt their European success, but if they can’t make it to Europe at all, does winning domestic cups do anything to the club glory on a long term basis?
Secondly, let us leave the finances for a while. I assume Liverpool has enough funds to compete with the big boys. But, how is a club supposed to improve their squad next season when they may finish below sixth or even ninth position this year? How will they attract a top quality player? One Luis Suarez is not enough and hopefully Liverpool fans understand that by now.
It is painfully simple – get in to Europe, earn money, attract top players, improve your squad and challenge for the honours.
In yesteryear, it was different. The successful clubs worked from the basic levels, made a good team with the academy graduates and local lads, won titles and earned money. But, find me a single club apart from Bilbao who follows this ancient model of reaping gold?
The more Liverpool will be out of top four, they will invite dangers. Clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City will never have problems in generating cash. They have a sugar daddy in place. Likewise Spurs and Arsenal will probably continue to earn UEFA Champions League revenue and build their squads. Therefore, Liverpool will find it almost impossible to match them.
Many journalists have cited examples of Arsenal and how top players have left the club for higher ambitions. They opined mere participating in Europe doesn’t matter unless you win.
But, here they are ignoring a subjective point. Arsenal needed financial stability after building the Emirates Stadium. They were also going through a transition phase after losing key senior players and the squad needed a complete overhaul. It is to the credit of Arsene Wenger that he has kept the club functional from every aspect. They have Champions League football and money to offer to any top players. At least their chances of building a good squad and fighting for silverware is better than clubs who are outside the top four.
Valencia is another burning example of why you need European football more than anything else. They have been qualifying for Europe for the past few years and now can look forward to building their new stadium. Isn’t that a success (how little it may be)? Isn’t the club moving in the right direction? Had the club won two Spanish cups in between and finished outside the top four, could they at all take this brave decision of finalizing their dream project?
The crux of the matter is breaking into Europe is very important for more than one reason. For a club like Liverpool, winning silverware is essential. However, they must not forget their braggart lies in “18 league titles & 5 European Cups”. This is indeed called history, so isn’t it better if they start focusing on building another history? For that they need to be competitive and without Champions League football it is not going to be easy.
Follow Saikat Mandal on twitter @SMandal87