Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughCan the Europa League hopefuls turn into Champions League contenders? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Can the Europa League hopefuls turn into Champions League contenders? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Can the Europa League hopefuls turn into Champions League contenders?


All three managers of Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle respectively, pre-season, spoke to the media of their lofty ambitions to be able play Champions league football in the 2013/2014 season. Whether this is realistic has been brought under some scrutiny recently, considering all 3’s starts to the season, and palpable disappointment at their activities in the transfer market. Liverpool being involved in the competition became a privilege that was synonymous with their football club, not so long ago, whilst Tottenham and Newcastle came so close to reach the qualifying stages of this year’s competition. Can they defy the odds and go one better this time round? The Europa league certainly challenges the strength of squads and fixtures come thick and fast, so are any of the squads up to the challenge?

Tottenham have unbelievable pressure to achieve this feat, considering the controversial sacking of Harry Redknapp who seemed to prove that he was not just a “wheeler dealer” as he told a reporter, by establishing finishes of 4th, 5th and 4th in his 3 seasons at the lane. AVB comes in with his youth, new ideas, new transfers and desire to succeed which he will certainly need to draw upon. Despite, adding Dembele, Dempsey and Hugo Lloris on transfer deadline day, most fans would have liked to have seen another striker sign on the dotted line.

Alan Pardew at Newcastle, is aware the champions league would mean greater pulling power to bring in the European’s elite players; whilst eliminating the constant fear of Newcastle fans that any of the current big 4 or big names in Europe could clutch one of their stars which there are a few at the moment, Ben Arfa, Cabaye and Tiote to name but a few. However, concerns remain over the paper-thin squad if they are to make a serious imprint on the upper echelons of the premier league. The sole senior signing of Vurnon Anita left many fans bewildered and disappointed at the lack of purchases for the new season despite the promise of a few young players in particular Gael Bigirimana.

Brendan Rogers, similarly, is embarking on an ambitious challenge, in trying to redevelop Liverpool into a force they used to be.  There appears to be several underperformers and dead wood in the Liverpool squad with a plethora of new signings under King Kenny failing to make the grade, as Anfield became a far less daunting place for away sides to visit last season and Rogers has not been shy to try and rectify that by making a few signings of his own, however the disappointment of not having enough strength in depth up front seems an all too familiar a worry.

 Now to review each team’s chances, firstly Tottenham. They have made an underwhelming point’s tally of 2 points from fixtures of Newcastle away, West Brom home and Norwich Home. The last two fixtures notably disappointing, because as with every club, home form is crucial to their ambition. It appears that Dembele and Sigurdsson and Dempsey have huge boots to fill after the sales of Luka Modric and strangely Van der Vaart, considering the failure to secure Joao Moutinho. Champions League seems a huge ask and the problems do not just remain there. Defoe and Adebayor remain Tottenham’s only 2 recognisable strikers, despite having Lancaster and Kane in reserve. Adebayor needs to illustrate his blistering early season form he produced under Redknapp last term. There is also concerns of the consistency on the wings in particular Lennon, needs to show his talent is more than just pace and running in straight lines and start to bully defences, which he clearly has the capability of doing. If the jump is to be made from Europa to champions league as Man City did not so long ago on their steady rise to the title, investment needs to be made in the right areas, and whilst Lloris is certaintly a talent, is this a wise use of £12 million in a position where Friedel has clearly been performing. Ultimately, I would say Tottenham won’t have enough players delivering at the same time, despite dazzling a few times, to reach the giddy heights of top 4, yet once they are up and running top 6 will be achieved again. I would not be surprised though if this cost AVB his job.

Players not all delivering at the same time seems a problem at Newcastle too, with currently Ben Arfa being their only attacking flair player delivering to what is expected.  Ashley has again taken a huge gamble in not investing heavily in the summer window, a tactic he is not unfamiliar with. However, this means that it has dampened any realistic chance Newcastle had of the Champions league. Whilst Alan Pardew is making the right noises, the Europa League seems to have caught Newcastle off guard as they struggled past Atromitos, and it would maybe be equally as surprising if they matched their 5th place finish of last season. To even achieve that, the two Dembas, Cisse and Ba need to start scoring and linking up well and fast. A top 8 finish and reaching the Europa League knockout stages, seems more reasonable to expect.  Fans will already say that more Cisse like business and a few faces would not go amiss in January with Ryan Taylor already out for a significant length of time, as the club looks to hobble in and remain in the contention on all fronts till then if possible.

Liverpool, the final proposition I will put forward have a different problem to both clubs above. Whilst, they do struggle with again not having secured a forward like Tottenham and Newcastle, their problem is more drastic, their recently appointed Manager. I would argue Liverpool have the best chance out of all the clubs listed above personnel wise, with Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard and Suarez capable of brilliance on their day, as well as emerging talent such as Sterling. I just simply do not buy into any of Rogers philosophy or his integrity to see it through. His failure to capture Sigurdsson or Dempsey when rivalled against Tottenham for both players, illustrates his lack of pulling power for players. Whilst beautiful football remains an ideal for every club, I can’t help but be underwhelmed by the FSG group’s choice of manager and felt a manager such as Louis Van Gaal was more up Liverpool’s street. Rogers has contradicted himself several times in the past by insisting he is loyal and believes in a project, then leaving. He did this at Watford a week before moving to Reading and only last season at Swansea said he would take a job nowhere else, only to days later, take the Liverpool job. I believe that Liverpool needed a more experienced hand to harness the most from the talent the club clearly possseses, but if Rogers stays then they need a striker in January and again  performances near maximum every week to even get to top 6.  I predict more pain for the clubs fans and a mid-table finish, without the trophies.

I have to conclude, that despite clearly having talent to impress at all 3 clubs. None of the clubs above can make the step up to the Champions league they all desperately crave. I accept managers have to aim high, but I unfortunately don’t see enough substance in any of these sides to reach the champions league holy grail. However, if realistic targets are made and the supporters accept they have to compromise, and see into the long term ambition of their club, particularly at Liverpool, all 3 clubs could still have successful seasons when put into perspective.

Grant Miles

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