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McManaman: Reds Must Take Europa League Seriously

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Although UEFA's lesser continental competition is often over-looked in England, Steve McManaman believes Liverpool must treat the Europa League with respect.

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As the famous Champions League Anthem died down and the first whistles commenced the Group Stage all across Europe last night, many Liverpool faithful must have felt a twinge of envy over other clubs taking their rightful place in this elite competition.

We can choose to take solace from a pair of 2-1 defeats suffered by the Manchester clubs, but perhaps we should console ourselves instead with the knowledge that we have our very own European competition to enjoy, one with a very large carrot at the end of the stick.

Former Liverpool player and current BT Sports commentator Steve McManamanamanamanamanamanaman hammered home this point in an interview with The Echo.

"Not only is it a big European trophy but there's the added bonus of where it takes you. It's a big prize.

"The fact that the winners go into the Champions League has certainly added to the prestige of the competition.

"The likes of Sevilla, Benfica and Valencia always really embrace it and that's what Liverpool need to do."

McManaman went on to bemoan the general lack of enthusiasm in England for the Europa League, especially compared to the way the competition is perceived throughout the rest of the continent.

"When FC Midtjylland beat Southampton just to get into the group stage, they celebrated like they had won the World Cup. It only seems to be the English clubs who get a bit blasé about it.

"I don't like it when teams look upon the Europa League as getting in the way of league games. Why work so hard to qualify for Europe and then not give it a real go?"

Yes, the Europa League doesn't have the glitz or glamour of its older, more distinguished brother, but it is a competition worth winning, and it is a competition that Liverpool have some serious history in. The Reds have won the competition three times, more than any other English club, and one shy of Sevilla's record of four.

Further, it's a competition that Liverpool have the talent and resources to win. Europa league might be an added burden, but the two-games-a-week burden is the kind of burden Liverpool want to have, whether they're playing Tuesday/Wednesday nights, or Thursday nights.

McManaman added, "Liverpool spent a lot of money this summer to strengthen the squad and should be able to cope with playing two games per week.

"People go on about playing Thursday-Sunday, but you just have to get on with it. Teams in other countries manage it okay."

Liverpool kick off their campaign tomorrow night against Bordeaux, currently 12th in Ligue 1, in what should be a very winnable group. Regardless of result, the performance should give a good indication of Liverpool's commitment to this year's edition of the Europa League.