Dalglish sacking shows importance of Champions League
Published: 18.05.12 / Written by: David Gold
Kenny Dalglish and his supporters will point to a Carling Cup triumph and an FA Cup final.
It is true that they ended six years of hurt without a trophy, but the other fact is that they finished behind Everton, in eighth. That was the icing on a not particularly enjoyable cake for the Liverpool owners. Their team massively underperformed in the league.
Dalglish’s sacking shows once and for all that Champions League football trumps domestic trophies. Such is the balance of the modern game, that the top four place is that much more important than the league. Look at Arsenal as an interesting counter example. Last season they could have ended six years without a trophy against Birmingham in the Carling Cup final. Unlike Liverpool, they lost. But whereas Birmingham were relegated, Arsenal finished in the top four. They also qualified this year for the Champions League. Though they have won nothing, it would seem as though Liverpool’s owners would love to swap positions with the North Londoners. And probably managers too.
Arsenal this year lost in the FA Cup to Sunderland. At the time it seemed their season was falling apart. Yet they had just beaten Sunderland in the league, sparking a seven match winning run. It was this form which catapulted them into third and helped them finish in that position.
Tottenham similarly lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup final, yet a Bayern Munich win in the Champions League final this weekend would mean they play in the competition next year, not the West Londoners, who will have an FA Cup triumph to satisfy themselves with. Manchester United will finish without a trophy this campaign, but they too know they have Champions League football next year.
This is the currency of modern football. Trophies are no longer enough. Money is increasingly important, and that is where the Champions League comes in. Not just in direct revenues from the competition, but the value of a club goes up with their participation in the competition. For Liverpool, they see other teams like Arsenal increasing their commercial revenues largely thanks to the fairly solid guarantee they will be in the Champions League. They can offer no such inducement. That is particularly important now.
The Champions League is the best and biggest competition in club football. The key for any club now which aspires to be the best is to be competing on that stage, against Europe’s best players. Liverpool are focused on that, and now need to find a manager who will put the top four finish ahead of success in the cups. It is what Arsene Wenger has done over the years. And though he is derided for not winning a trophy for so long, there are many who would swap places with him, including Liverpool. And perhaps now too, Dalglish himself...