The Fiver, Guardian Unlimited’s tea-time take on the world of football, writes irreverently about the lack of gratitude shown by many Liverpool fans on hearing the news that their team will have to play in the first qualifying round of next season’s Champions’ League, a competition they didn’t actually qualify for.
You could be forgiven for assuming that Liverpool fans would be relieved when it was finally announced their club will get to defend its Big Cup title next season. After all, they finished a distant fifth in the Premiership, a whopping 38 points behind winners Chelsea and didn’t actually qualify for the competition. But having been on the receiving end of one or two (billion) missives from paranoid Scousers over the years, The Fiver knew better. So we weren’t one bit surprised by the cacophony of ungrateful wailing, weeping and teeth-gnashing triggered around Anfield when Uefa’s 14-man executive committee decided over breakfast (today’s menu: fudge, fudge and more fudge) to make “a special case” and allow the holders into the first qualifying round of next season’s Big Cup.
“Uefa have treated their own champions with contempt. To be told they have to start in the first qualifier is wrong and a real kick in the teeth,” whinged Les Lawson, spokesperson for the Liverpool International Supporters’ Club, upon hearing his team will be forced to play actual football matches if they are to retain their shiny trophy. And while The Fiver agrees that it would have been much fairer of Uefa to fast-track Liverpool into the last five minutes of next season’s Big Cup final with a two-goal lead, fans of other teams will relish the possibility of the holders being eliminated in the preliminaries by a team that has actually earned the right to be there. Total Network Solutions or Shelbourne, for example. Or Everton.
Liverpool will have to play six matches to qualify for the group stages of this year’s Big Cup, with the first one pencilled in for – stop your sniggering now – mid-July. Cue: the cancellation of a money-making tour of fabled Scouse outpost Japan, and even more pompous, self-pitying whining: “We are being treated like nobodies, we deserve to be treated with some respect,” howled Les. In the end, it was left to former player and assistant manager Phil Thomson to inject a long overdue dose of humility into proceedings. “We are delighted we are back in. It’s a great decision for football,” he aye-ayed gratefully as a stampeding herd of angry Manchester City fans thundered towards Soho Square, anxious to discover if they can emulate the Koppites by whining their way into a certain recently-vacated Euro Vase berth. So far, they can’t.
What price Everton v Liverpool in the third qualifying round? Or, if they make it out of the preliminaries, Liverpool being drawn in our group? Either one (or both) is bound to occur!
We can’t complain — Gerrard · Update
Unlike the majority of Liverpool fans — who have been complaining incessantly since UEFA’s decision to allow the Reds to play in next season’s Champions’ League was announced — Liverpool captain and future Blue, Steven Gerrard, has belied the Scouse stereotype and seen sense: “We can’t complain about being in the first round because the rules stated we shouldn’t be in it,” he said earlier today [Monday].
Now can all Red Scousers do me and many others a favour and please heed your captain’s advice; stop complaining about a perceived ‘unjustness’ and be grateful you’re in next season’s competition, you whining *****!
And stop sending me needlessly abusive emails.