clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vincent Kompany Warns Liverpool about the Promised Land

Ahead of the Monday night's game against Liverpool, Manchester City's captain had just a few words of caution for Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool.

Keep it on the down low, nobody has to know.
Keep it on the down low, nobody has to know.
Jan Kruger

The draw for the Champions League group stages is just eight days away. Eight. Days. Away. It's just over a week. A week has seven days. Mathematics. It helps. Vincent Kompany also wants to help or put pressure on his team's next opponents or just answer a question put to him by a reporter or deflect from Manchester City's unimpressive Champions League campaigns over the past few years. Whatever Kompany's intentions are, he's right about the Champions League. It changes things.

"When the Champions League comes in, the Premier League will be a different competition all over for Liverpool," Kompany said with some presumable measure of captain-like authority. "It's tricky for all the clubs that are involved in the Champions League because it will get more demanding as the weeks go on." So it begins even if there is truth littered among these words.

Liverpool do not have any football competitive football in August bar Premier League battles and it will be the month of September where additional commitments arise across Europe. Much has been written about Liverpool's four-year absence from the Champions League in  variety of ways. For the past few seasons, the main focus was on the difficulties the club had in the sphere of player recruitment and it continually proved to be a discussion point whenever a failed transfer occurred. Liverpool's lack of any kind of European football brought a different focus as the Merseyside giants made an unlikely title challenge.

In all honesty, no European football helped Liverpool last season but it wasn't the sole reason for such a surprise title challenge. When this aspect is cited as the cornerstone of Liverpool's success, it is exceedingly jarring. Truly. To take this further, claiming Liverpool will fall because of the introduction of Champions League football also neglects the deeper and broader squad that Brendan Rodgers can call upon if he is prepared to rotate the right players at the right times. José Mourinho's "holiday" remarks were predictably seized upon before Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge in late December but he did not deny the quality Liverpool possessed in player personnel and management.

"They can [win the title] because they are good, because Brendan is good, because they have time to prepare the team tactically and because they are not involved in the heat of the knockout situation in the Champions League or even the Europa League," Mourinho declared in an uncharacteristic managerial move to talk about an opponent before a game.

"My players are going to play 60 matches this season. Liverpool's will play 40 matches. It's a big difference. Quality plus ambition plus this advantage, so yes, they can win it. Liverpool are on holidays one season: one week to prepare a match, play the match, one more week to prepare the next match. An unbelievable advantage.

"Brendan is doing fantastically, but he's training every week in a calm way. Every day - maybe twice a day - which is a big advantage when you build your team. You know how many tactical works I've done since pre-season? Not many. It's easy for a team who do that every week to have some dynamic. Not to be involved in European competition gives them a big advantage: not in terms of resting, but in terms of work."

The builder of teams experienced more of an "unbelievable advantage" when he joined clubs with big budgets that usually finished first or second in the league before the Special One's managerial tenure commenced. That's not to lessen his success as a manager nor to denigrate his considerable capabilities but to place them into context. Last week, he sought to quell this notion by offering a revision of history with which he used to damn his managerial rivals at Arsenal and Manchester City. That's not fair just as it wouldn't be right to ignore Rodgers' thoughts on how missing out on the Europa League could benefit Liverpool's attempt to finish in the top four.

It was interesting to see a manager focus on the tactical preparations that Liverpool had as an advantage last season as opposed to rest and perhaps it is something that allowed Liverpool to fine tune in terms of formations and style even if the number of quality players were limited to 13 or 14 players. Kompany's observations chime in with the idea that life will be tougher this season with fewer time between matches. These things can annoy fans but it is part of the process of Liverpool becoming relevant again. When Manchester City rose up through hefty financial support to challenge the Dark Lord's army, more was spoken about the "noisy neighbours" causing all sorts of trouble at ungodly hours. Pesky neighbours. Doing things.

Liverpool have to deal with the "£100 million" spending observations if success comes this season or "no more bite in attack" jibes if Liverpool fail to finish in the top four. There's also the "not so good when you have to deal with Europe" claims that will inevitably arrive when trouble looms. It's all part of the plan. Last season, Liverpool's rivals had deeper squads to deal with injuries and loss of form because of the very benefits that the Champions League offers to clubs in the transfer window.

Would Liverpool have been able to attract the players signed in the summer without Champions League football? Perhaps but it would have been a far more uncertain and lengthy process. Certain teams that could compete with Liverpool for transfers in the recent past just could no longer do so and the plans of Champions League regulars such as Chelsea and Bayern Munich could be upset with genuine interest and skilful manoeuvring.

This is a return to the land of milk and honey for some in the squad and a new adventure for others. It is a season that everyone connected to the club should be excited about and any complications or increased demands that emerge over the course of the season will hopefully be navigated with the confidence that characterised the previous season. Sooner or later, it will just be the players and the manager opponents have to focus on and even then it could be a frightening prospect.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Liverpool Offside Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Liverpool FC news from Liverpool Offside