Liverpool’s Champions League return creeps closer

by Michael Wade

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Liverpool’s feted return to the Champions League is not that far away. In fact, the chances of them returning as soon as next season are growing with every week.

Last season Spurs caught Liverpool on the hop to nick fourth place. Everything came together for them at once and they got lucky, frankly.

Harry Redknapp made some astute signings, got some important calls right and generally played his best cards correctly but this season things are different.

Having felt the dizzying emotions of European glory nights returning to White Hart Lane Redknapp and Spurs are now a victim of their own success.

They believe that after beating last season’s winners, Inter Milan (a shadow of the team they were under Rafa Benitez), that there is a realistic chance of them going all the way in the competition. This has taken their eye off the more important lesson that European football offered them this season.

What they should be looking to do is garner some experience from the competition, learning to cope with the dual commitments domestically and in Europe and most importantly retaining fourth place for next season so they can continue gradual growth.

As expected Spurs have got a massive rush of blood at their first taste of success and let it go to their head – when it comes to the business end of the competition and the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United lock their sights on the prize do you think Spurs stand a chance? Me neither.

As for Liverpool’s other rivals for that Champions League spot, Manchester City, they have every chance of making it, and realistically should be a shoe-in for their highest-ever Premier League finish.

Unfortunately for them they can’t stop fighting each other long enough to keep their minds on the job in hand, winning games of football.

They beat an in-form West Brom side at the weekend which was greeted with predictable overexcitement but it really shouldn’t be. The reality is they beat a newly-promoted side, it’s a game they should be winning unless they are as lightweight and predictable as Arsenal have become but that’s another story!

Now that Liverpool have finally united the club under the ownership of John W Henry and have everybody pulling in the right direction for the first time in years they are a fearful proposition again and the chances of them ending seventh again are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Three straight wins, four in all competitions and the return to form of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres in unison should sound alarm bells to the rest of the Premier League as one of the most lethal combos out there.

The last time they were playing like this they went close to claiming the Premier League title and with fixtures to come against Wigan, Stoke and West Ham there is every chance Roy Hodgson’s side will continue their winning ways and push into the upper echelons of the league for the first time this season and that is when they will come into their own, it’s their territory.

Spurs and Manchester City have made good ground in Liverpool’s absence but as the Reds slowly climb their way back toward the top will it prove to be enough. With just five points between Liverpool and the top four it doesn’t look like it is.

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