According to Monsieur Wenger, there are 5 trophies on offer every season in English top flight football; the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, Carling now Capital One Cup and a top 4 finish. While Arsenal have failed to win any of the other 4 silverwares for the past 8 seasons, they have never missed out on a top 4 finish. The Frenchman is often vilified for rating a top 4 finish higher than some of the cup competitions (FA Cup and Capital One Cup). While I am a fan desirous of seeing my darling team lift trophies, I have also come to understand the importance of finishing in the top 4 every season and making the UEFA Champions League. It goes beyond money as some pundits have come to believe, the presence of Champions League football is vital if a team is keen on having a good team.
Trophies alone don’t lure top players. Top players are lured by two factors; UEFA Champions League football and huge wages. Other trophies are just mere bonuses. Liverpool were once a top club in England but they are gradually slipping into oblivion. They have gone from title hopefuls to top 4 run-ins, then to top 4 chasers, Europa League positions and now, off Europe. One wonders why the once great team can suddenly become mediocre. Simple! Missing out of top 4 has robbed them the opportunity of luring the best legs to Anfield. No top player wants to play for a team that aren’t playing Champions League football even if such a team is perpetually winning domestic cup competition.
Without the lure of Champions League football, a team will have to pay overboard for decent talents and that has been the fate of Liverpool in recent seasons. The Reds last grazed the top flight of European football in the 2010/2011 season but since then, they haven’t been able to make it back there. Now, their top 4 slot has been taken over by Manchester City and Tottenham are also challenging for it. It doesn’t look like they will be making it back there anytime soon because it takes top notch players to make top 4 but unfortunately, Liverpool cannot boast of such again. Now, the Reds have to make do with average players and even those average players, they pay bogus fees for them. 2 seasons ago, they paid a British record 35 million pounds for Andy Carroll who had just 6 months Premier League experience. They had also paid 17 million for Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing.
Not only have they been struggling to attract good players, they are also battling hard to keep the few good players they have in their fold from the clutches of Champions League playing teams. Players like Skrtel and Agger are keen to move away from Anfield just to secure Champions League football and this summer, they are in for their biggest fight as they hope to keep hotshot Luis Suarez. I doubt if the Uruguan will stay beyond this summer since it doesn’t look like they will be playing UEFA Champions League football anytime soon. Next season will even be worse off for the Merseysiders as they are totally out of Europe (no UEFA Champions League or Europa League). Should they loose Suarez, which big name can they attract to fill the huge vacuum he will be leaving behind? They have Sturridge but certainly cannot depend on the Englishman to fire them back into top 4. They need more firepower. How about their defence line? Jamie Carragher their long serving loyal servant has announced that he will retire at the end of the season which means they must bring in a new centre-back. One would have expected them to be linked with the best center-backs in England and across Europe?
Yes, they were linked with a move for Swansea captain and Schalke 04 Greek defender Papdupolus but their chances of getting them are extremely remote. Ashley Williams will be 29 at the start of next season and all his career, he has never played European club football and now that Swansea have finally made it to Europa League, will he leave them to play for a club that won’t be on the continent? He will rather move to Arsenal that have Champions League football to offer or stay put at Liberty Stadium and enjoy Thursday night football. How about the Greek star? That is even a worse scenario. How will he leave a Champions League team to play for a team that won’t be on the continent? They must have admitted defeat in their pursuit of these players that they have now turned their attention to Manchester City’s Ivorian misfit, Kolo Toure. The former Arsenal man though experienced at the highest level is a spent force. He is available for free and Liverpool are gunning for him. A team wanting to climb back to the pinnacle of English football shouldn’t be looking at a player like Kolo Toure.
Enough said about Liverpool but that would have been Arsenal’s fate if we slip out of top 4. The moneybags will besiege the Emirates to lure our best legs away and without them and with our refusal to spend big both in transfers and wages, we will find it a herculean task to break back into the top 4. While I want Arsenal to win trophies, if given the opportunity to choose, I will choose only two trophies ahead of a top 4 finish and that is because only those two guarantee UEFA Champions League football. And these are winning the EPL and winning the champions league it said.