A nuisance that Liverpool could do without?

Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool, Manager

Liverpool’s trip to away to Young Boys in Switzerland on Thursday night would have been a lot more welcoming if the team weren’t looking so thin in certain areas. The Europa League would have represented a very achievable trophy for Brendan Rodgers in his first season at Anfield, but considering the little resources he’s had to work with, is the Europa League just another headache for Rodgers and Liverpool at this moment?

It’s a little ironic that many are pointing to Andy Carroll as someone who the club could really do with. Well, maybe not Carroll specifically, but he’s a better option to have than nothing. Liverpool are incredibly light up front and Carroll’s presence would have eased the pressure put on Luis Suarez to perform. The League Cup (whatever it is they’ve decided to call it) is around the corner but luckily the FA Cup coincides with the opening of the January transfer window. But until then, what good is another competition in Liverpool’s calendar?

I’ve already spoken about the need to rearrange the football calendar and perhaps look to limiting the League Cup to teams who are not playing in Europe. Clubs need Champions League football because of the benefits it brings financially, but the Europa League really doesn’t seem too much of a consolation considering the huge gulf in financial payouts between both competitions. It’s especially frustrating when clubs need to look to a strong finish in the league as their primary goal. However, there’s no point in bringing up the debate about whether an FA Cup win is more valuable than Champions League qualification, but Liverpool’s owner situation certainly forces the club to look at the best options for bringing in a healthy injection of cash.

The club could have done something promising in this year’s Europa League. Look at the benefits it would have given players like Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, not to mention the obvious advantage of having Nuri Sahin in the squad. But the squad is simply too thin, and how much focus will be on Young Boys in Switzerland when Manchester United awaits on the weekend?

I’m not suggesting that Liverpool couldn’t get a positive result in Europe on Thursday, but it’s the start of an extremely lengthy campaign. The team are one injury away to Suarez from total uncertainty (even more so than now) as well as another rock of pressure placed upon Brendan Rodgers. The manager should not be in this position, as has been mentioned by many already. The owners brought in their target for the manager’s position but have failed to back him fully in the transfer market. Where does the expectation to do well on many fronts then come from? Whether or not John Henry has openly said where he wants to team to finish come May and how far they progress in each competition, he bought the club when they were at an incredible low following Hicks and Gillett; the only obvious way was up.

The other problem for the club is John Henry’s rumoured sale of the Boston Red Sox. He’ll flip that club for a great profit, especially in the wake of the LA Dodgers’ sale for just over $2 billion. But should that mean clear sailing for Liverpool? Probably not. As mentioned, he’ll flip the Red Sox for profit, but he saw little value in buying a 29-year old Clint Dempsey—a player who would have been a great help to the current side—and has said there will be little in the way of big spending (risky spending obviously translates to big spending). Right now, Europa League football seems the last thing Liverpool really need.

A Thursday night away trip in Europe and then Manchester United on Sunday. At the very least, Liverpool will get to give the younger players a good run out in competitive action. But then there’s the double-edged sword of this being a potentially tricky tie. Young Boys did well against Tottenham a few years ago, so there’s some level of caution that needs to go into this match. There seems to be a lot of hope for young striker Adam Morgan, and games like this in the Europa League could launch him into a regular place in the first team this season. A little bit of hope in a very difficult past few weeks for the club.

Above all, however, it’s the idea that the owners shouldn’t expect too much from Rodgers this season and stick with him past the frustrations from the transfer window. He may pull an excellent cup run out of the bag, but is that where the emphasis should be?