Is this the beginning of the end for Liverpool?

400x400_1254677206_spt_ai_chelseavliverpool_26Jamie Carragher said that it would not be the end of the world if Liverpool didn’t qualify for the knockout phases of the Champion’s League and he’s right, it won’t be. But it could be the beginning of a descent from grace for Liverpool football club unless they rectify things quickly – it wouldn’t be the first time that a club has gone from being a European power to a mid-table club in the league – look at the descent of Leeds so quickly after they had reached a Champion’s League semi final! I don’t want to predict doom and gloom for the club but in the longer term, this could be the start of troubles for the club that won’t send them down, but could result in an eventual end to their being part of the “Big Four”.

A big difference between Leeds and Liverpool is the financial implications of elimination from Europe’s premier competition – Leeds had spent drastically to succeed and paid for their lack of hindsight whilst Liverpool will only lose a couple of million pounds for no longer being in the competition which is pittance for a club of their side. No, the real problem for Liverpool comes if they fail to finish in the top 4, they no longer have the comfort of a Champion’s League win to keep them in the competition like they did with their last success which made 5th place good enough. That won’t happen again.

Finishing below the Top 4 – which is looking more and more like a real possibility for the club – would not kill Liverpool but picture it this way; top class players like Javier Mascherano, Daniel Agger and Fernando Torres are not going to want to stay at a club that can’t give them Champion’s League football and the Europa’s League’s not good enough for them – especially with their international careers to consider. Yes they may often bleat about their loyalty to the club but footballers are fickle and they’d happily jump ship just because of a poor season – the only players that wouldn’t for the club are Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

Losing those kind of players would lose ground further on the increasing power of Manchester City and give the likes of Tottenham and Aston Villa the chance to establish themselves as being better than Liverpool. The big players would be replaced but would these replacements be good enough? There’s no guarantee – a lot of Rafa Benitez’s transfers have been dodgy to say the least. And who’s to say that Rafa will still be at the club? Surely the man is living off his past glory in the Champion’s League now as Liverpool fans want the title and he blew their best chance of getting it in a long time last season. With no silverware this season, the club may look for a new man to lead it to where it wants to be – and then who’s to say that he would succeed?

Losing key players and being usurped by rich clubs like Man City would definitely hurt Liverpool – it wouldn’t be the end of their Premiership career but it would surely be the end, for a number of foreseeable years, of their attempts to win the title and they could even drop down to being a club that doesn’t often qualify for the Champion’s League and instead has to settle for the Europa League…at best. Not really acceptable for a club with Liverpool’s history but I’m sure the likes of Nottingham Forest would take that ahead of where they are now – even the best can fall.

Of course this is speculation; there’s a good chance that Liverpool will finish in the Top 4 this season, particularly now that they don’t have to concentrate on the Champion’s League like Rafa usually likes them to do, and even if they did finish outside the Top 4 the big players would probably stay at least one season to help them fight to get back into the competition and if they did so then problem solved, back to normality. I’m just saying what if, it’s been a while now since a giant of the English game took a fall and it can hinge on the smallest things – Liverpool’s finances aren’t fully known after all and that debt could prove more troublesome should these proposed problems come true. Then that would be the beginning of the end. As for elimination from this year’s Champion’s League? A blip that shouldn’t cause much hassle but Liverpool must keep their guard up and stopping the worst from happening. Football’s an unpredictable sport after all.

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NEW Soccer AM III DVD OUT NOW – Order your copy now