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The Liverpool Offside 2017-18 Season Preview, Part 4: League vs. Champions League

In part four of our preview, The Liverpool Offside staff dig into the club’s priorities for the coming season.

Champions League First Round Draw Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Over the past seven years, Liverpool have participated in the Champions League once. They haven’t played a meaningful role in Europe’s premier cup competition since Rafa Benitez’ penultimate season. Given Liverpool’s past glories, it’s been a disheartening run. As such, expectations for them to acquit themselves well in Europe will be high. With six contenders for the top four in England, though—and perhaps for the league title—should Jürgen Klopp’s focus be on a run in Europe or maximising Liverpool’s league return?

Top four is a must if we’re going to keep up the steady climb and attract better players. We have to be strong in the league this season. Getting into the Champions League is great. More games to watch. New teams to play. Weird referees. But reserving a seat at the European table each and every year in the years to come can only be done by repeatedly finishing in one of the top four spots of the Premier League. First place is ideal but if first is taken I can make do with second, third, or fourth.

So I really have no high expectations for our Champions League matches. I think we’ll win a bit and lose a bit. And I'm content to see the team bow out earlier than we'd maybe want, knowing that Klopp can return stronger next time around as long as Liverpool can maintain some sweet, top-four stability.

At the very least, we need to maintain top four. That is the bare minimum requirement for this season, and Klopp should do whatever it takes to ensure that. The league title should always be in our sights, but I don’t know if we’re quite there yet. Who knows though: one or two more players brought in during this transfer window and a sprinkle of good luck in the injury department, and we might be in business.

Given that this is our first time back in the Champions League in years, I’d just call making it out of the group stages a win. Wouldn’t say no to a deep run, of course, but I don’t think this year that’s something that’s necessary for success.

Top four. Need to maintain top four. I think prioritising the league and having as much fun as we can in the Champions League should be the way to approach this season. I’d love to see us go all out and try to win some silverware, but I’d be much happier if we make sure we’re regulars in Europe again.

Oh, I hate this question. I know this is going to come off as wishy-washy, but this entirely depends on unforeseeable circumstances. Do we start the league campaign hot like last summer? Are we drawn into an easy group (and if so, maybe a favorable Round of 16 draw)? But, I guess gun to my head, I would have to go with consolidating our place in the Top four in the league. We need to be a regular in the Champions League, and unless we win the Champions League or Europa League (which, by the way, is A-OK with me) the only way to do that is to start consistently finishing Top 4.

Both. If Liverpool must, bin the domestic cups. Well, just play the kids alongside Ragnar Klavan, James Milner, Daniel Sturridge (forgive me, please), and any first-team players in need of minutes. Always. Actually, Sturridge isn't needed in domestic games when Divock Origi, Dominic Solanke, and Danny Ings are eager for opportunities. Now, focus on a minimum top four finish and living up to this club's great European traditions by avoiding the disgrace of the last Champions League campaign.

Honestly, I’m fine with either. If we end up finishing in 7th or 8th but make it to the semis (or even the final) in the Champions League, I’ll be happy. If we finish in 3rd in the Premiership but crash out of the group stages in Europe, I can live with that. What I’m worried about is we’ll be awful in both.

I’m not really going to complain about it if Klopp decides to focus on Europe, but i’d rather us do well in the League and focus on that, focus on rebuilding our domestic reputation. That isn’t to say that I’d be unhappy with Champions League success. If we manage to go deep in the Champions League and end up finishing maybe even out of the top four, I might be okay. Maybe. Ask me again in April.

While I’d really love a deep run in the Champions League, doing well in the league and retaining a top four place is the ultimate priority. If the club can get in the players they need this summer—and that’s looking a touch doubtful at the moment, but there’s still time so I’m going to be crossing my fingers as hard as anyone—this is the season where the club under Klopp can consolidate themselves as the kind of top four fixture they were during Rafa Benitez’ time in charge. Step one, of course, is qualifying for the Champions League group stages. Once that’s out of the way, though—assuming Liverpool can see off Hoffenheim, obviously—the league becomes the main concern and the competition that will determine the coming season’s success or failure.

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