After yesterday's post recapping the FA Youth Cup went up and Stoke City progressed past West Ham in the big boy FA Cup, the FA announced the matchups for the semi-final round. From a Liverpool perspective there was only one way we could have hoped things would go---Manchester United on one side, Manchester City on the other. If both teams ended up on one side of the competition, it was a major blow for Liverpool's European hopes for next season. With United atop the league and City near locks to end in the top four, it would mean a European bid for either Stoke City or Bolton regardless of how the final ended.
1 Manchester City or Reading (City won 1-0 later in the day)v Manchester United
2 Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City
So for Liverpool it means that the possibilities for competition outside of England's borders are (besides potentially playing in Wales in domestic cup competition---LOOPHOLE!) to either win the Europa League or finish fifth or higher in the Premier League. Given the current state of things---down 1-0 heading into Thursday's second leg against Braga and six points adrift of Spurs (who have a game in hand) in the fifth spot in league---it paints a pretty dire picture.
It doesn't mean that all hope is lost, of course, as there's still plenty of the season left to go, and a 1-0 deficit heading to Anfield is anything but insurmountable. The implications go far beyond this season, though, with talk already developing about how a lack of European competition would impact the transfer orgy that we were all planning on viewing with great delight in the summer, along with the possibility that it makes Liverpool a less attractive place to stay for those currently around. Even if they're not really that homesick.
Anyway, do the voting thing and please elaborate if you feel the need---for me there's no need to eulogize European competition for next season or pronounce the summer's transfer activity a failure already, but it's a depressing reminder of how difficult the first five months of the campaign was, and how much ground Liverpool would need to make up. Close to gone but not quite yet.