Come over here and tell ETW what you really want for Liverpool Football Club this season. Huddle in closer. Closer. Good. Have you thought of it? Great. Now try to visualise how this will happen and savour the joyous feelings that wash over your presence. ETW won't try to be an obstacle of progress because that's not the "way of working" around here. Whatever you wished for probably won't happen but there's no harm in trying to want better things. Then again, no aspirations result in no disappointment. You can have that golden nugget for free.
Ah, Liverpool. Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool. 18 English top division league titles. 5 European Cups/Champions Leagues. 3 UEFA Cups. 3 UEFA Super Cups. 7 FA Cups. 8 League Cups. 15 of those meaningless "shield" thingies that signal the start of the domestic season. That's a lot of history. It is what current Liverpool fans and managers have had to wrestle with as the bulk of it was achieved before the summer of 1990. Still, some trophies have been added over the past two decades but this is a club that has lost its lustre.
We've had false starts, possible prophets, returning kings, unsavoury public infighting, depressing dips, insipid performances, unscrupulous owners, amazing finals, silverware, and some classy players in this young century. Despite an excellent start to the season, frustration lingers. Brendan Rodgers hasn't made his name as a manager. Yet. Brendan Rodgers hasn't won a trophy as a manager. Yet. Brendan Rodgers hasn't united the Liverpool fanbase. Yet. What is most curious is that there is expectation and Rodgers is behind this all. Improved results, some sparkling performances, and a team that on paper could have a formidable first eleven with just a couple of respectable additions.
Liverpool are heading into battle next week with a manager who will be used to a fierce rivalry between the teams. David Moyes is in a similar position to Rodgers in that he needs to prove himself worthy of his title but possesses greater resources as well as an established winning mentality to aid him in his nefarious and diabolical quest. Perhaps these thoughts float in just a few isolated craniums but Liverpool appear to be on the precipice of real development. If Liverpool can add those players and beat Manchester United before Bill Shankly's 100th anniversary that might provide enough momentum to legitimately challenge for a place in the Promised Land.
Regardless of history, that's all we want to do right now.
- The Promised Land is the best place to start right now. It just keeps getting better for Arsene Wenger. The Champions League groups stage draw was made and the Football Gods spread a feeling on inevitability through the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco where it all took place. Fourteen former winners populated the draw but Group F was the GROUP OF DEATH. Borussia Dortmund. Napoli. Arsenal. Marseille. Woof! Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus. Gonzalo Higuaín and Marek Hamšík. Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere. Mathieu Valbuena and André Ayew. People will primarily look to Dortmund, Napoli, and Arsenal as the main contestants for qualification but do not rule out Marseille. Élie Baup's charges have started their league campaign with 3 wins out of 3 but their poor away record in last year's Ligue 1 campaign will need to improve for the French side to stand a chance of qualifying. It is quite an even group and slow starts are not advised. Dortmund plus one other? Who would bet against Rafa Benitez in tactical battles in Europe?
- The Europa League groups stage draw took place, where Swansea will meet Valencia and Tottenham will face a new look Anzhi Makhachkala but back to the land of milk and honey. Who likes a bit of Celtic? ETW does. Celtic secured qualification to the group stages with a 3-0 second leg victory against Shakhter Karagandy. James Forrest is a beautiful, beautiful man. His stoppage-time winner made him look like a cross between Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho, otherwise known as a vision of perfection. Celtic were rewarded with the kind of draw that their fans will enjoy even if matching last year's qualification for the last 16 is unlikely. Celtic's Group H is a tough one. Barcelona, AC Milan, and Ajax aren't the sort of teams any club wants around their vicinity if a smooth and relaxing night out is planned. Still, six matches against these sides would be more meaningful than Chelsea and their kindly Group E even if qualification from any group should be the ultimate aim.
- Bayern Munich are the champions so merit a mention and Manchester City, CSKA Moscow, and FC Viktoria Plzen stand in Pep Guardiola's way in Group D. Qualification should be within Bayern's formidable reach even if Pellegrini might have an axe to grind with Pep. Pellegrini's Real Madrid racked up 102 goals and 96 points but still couldn't top Pep's Barca. ETW would be bitter and endlessly plan for righteous vengeance. David Moyes has never managed in the Champions League before and failed qualifying rounds against slick passing Spanish sides don't count. Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Real Sociedad all present tricksiness and little, irritating problems in Group A. Manchester United are favourites but this is not an easy group. Real Madrid and Juventus lock illustrious horns in Group B while Porto, Atlético Madrid, and Zenit St Petersburg will need to take maximum points against Austria Vienna in Group G if qualification is to be achieved. Group C translates as PSG plus one other every day of every week.
- Liverpool won a game where there extra time, injuries, goals, nervousness, and spirit left more questions to ponder. Rodgers will need to prepare for playing United again in September in the League Cup but hasn't signed any players. So there's that too.
As blasted deadline day is on Monday, ETW is back on Tuesday sharing how everything's the worst or the best (we'll know definitively by then) but let's psyche ourselves up for the Manchester United game by hearing stirring words of Bill Shankly in a profile of the great man. What a tribute it would be if we could win against our greatest rivals just before his 100th anniversary.
No. 3. Bill Shankly (Football's Greatest Managers) (via MyHumanVideos)