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McAllister Talks up the Europa League

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Despite the manager bringing the B-squad to France, Gary McAllister would like us to think the Europa League is a priority for the club.

That baldy head. We love it.
That baldy head. We love it.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

While he may be most famous for that goal against Everton, teaching Steven Gerrard a thing or two about attacking midfielding, and his baldy head, Gary McAllister's cult status is as much down to the pivotal role he played in stabilising the squad during Liverpool's treble winning 2001 season. A free signing from Coventry, aged 35, he rolled back the years and silenced the sceptics with inspirational and experienced performances on a near-weekly basis.

Now 50, he's back at the club, this time as a coach, after being brought in during the backroom shuffle this summer. It is expected that his experience and game intelligence will be similarly useful to a young squad this time around, even if Gary Mac isn't on the pitch on game day.

Given that the 2001 season is one the major highlights of his career, it is only natural that the man would have some romantic notions about the importance of the competition he once won. And so it seems, as he echoes Philippe Coutinho's comments from earlier:

"Having experienced it as the UEFA Cup, it's very important as far I'm concerned

"It brought me some wonderful memories and it was a fantastic final against Alaves so, for me, my take on it is that we want to go as far as we possibly can.

"It's a long run, it's a lot of games, I'm not so sure if I'm a fan of the structure of the Europa League, but once you get to the nitty gritty of the last eight it's obviously a competition worth winning and Liverpool have got a history of winning it.

"My generation of player, I associate Liverpool with success in Europe, whether it be in the old UEFA Cup, the old European Cup – or Champions League and Europa League.

"So I'm sure it's something the manager and everybody here, all of the players, want to do well in."

So that's encouraging, if a little hard to reconcile with the squad that has travelled to France for tomorrow's opener. With Brendan Rodgers apparently choosing to go with an A and B team approach in lieu of actual squad rotation, it will be interesting to see if the supposed second string will perform any more coherently than the league starters, keeping Gary Mac's Europa dream alive.