Friday, 17 May 2013

Who are we to turn our nose up at the Europa League?

Since Chelsea’s dramatic win the other night, I have listened to so many football fans degrade their win in Amsterdam. Every fan I speak to says that it’s a terrible competition and not worth winning or who wants to be in it anyway. They say that the standard is poor and there are too many games that interfere with the league progression of their team. They are happy their club are not in the competition and laugh at the fact that Chelsea and Rafa, are being congratulated for wining a Mickey Mouse trophy as they call it.

This is pure stupidity. How can any fan, besides a Manchester United fan, snigger at the Europa League. Arsenal fans, Spurs fans and Liverpool fans all laugh at it.  How can even Chelsea fans snigger at it? Their club has just won a trophy. The manager that they hate and despise has given them another European trophy to add to their pretty empty cabinets. They have won more than Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs this year. They have beaten a very good team in Benfica.

Put it this way, I’m sure Brendan Rodgers or even the recently sacked, Roberto Mancini would like to have the Europa League in their hands to keep their owners happy. No matter what the competition is or what the trophy is or who you play, a trophy is a trophy, and to play in Europe for player, is a massive occasion. You ask Ivanovic if he thinks it is a Mickey Mouse trophy. The player who scored the winner in the final who also missed the last final, I’m sure is over the moon to have a Europa League medal. You ask Frank Lampard what he thought of Amsterdam the other night and I’m sure he will be happy to be still wining trophies at this stage in his career. Even ask tracksuit wearing John Terry, he wasn’t even playing yet he was decked out in head to toe of Chelsea and celebrated the win like it was 1999. A trophy means success and Chelsea were successful. End of story

As a Liverpool fan, I would be happy with any trophy at this stage, never mind a top four finish, which Chelsea also have. Arsenal hasn’t seen a trophy since the prehistoric age and the same goes for Spurs. So where all of a sudden has this snobbery outlook of the Europa league come from? I can understand why Barca, Real, Munich and Man united don’t favour it too much. They have high standards. They have done the hard work to get to where they are. They have competed in the old UEFA CUP or Cup Winners cup and climbed the ladder. They win trophies every single year.  Before Wednesday night, Chelsea had 4 European trophies since 1905 and 4 league titles. Oh and two full members cup !!

Winning the Europa League will have a big impact on any squad and especially Chelsea’s one. If you look through their new team in a transitional year, not many have the experience of big finals or winning trophies do they? Hazard, Moses, Bertand, Ba, Azpilicueta and Cahill. It will give them the hunger and desire need to keep improving. It will also help older players like Lampard and Terry. Winning trophies still going into your mid-thirties is a massive boost personally and gives you the extra drive and passion to keep winning more. Fernando Torres, under Rafa at Chelsea, has scored 20 + goals and another European final goal to his name. That will help with his confidence going into a new season with another new manager and probably more new team mates. Goals help strikers and especially in big finals.

The Europa league also allows managers to test their young players against some of the best teams in Europe. Tactical teams, away from home in some intimidating stadiums, young players get to put on the club jersey and play for their future.  The next generation of players coming through and the early stages of the Europa league are a perfect platform for managers to showcase their young talent. It’s too risky these days to play them in the Premier league yet at the same time every club, with the new rules coming in, need home grown players to comply. You also get to experiment with formations and tactics and Chelsea can now see that David Luiz is a classy defensive midfielder as opposed to a PlayStation defender once described by Gay Neville. By winning the Europa League, Chelsea is the first team in history to win the Champions League and the Europa league simultaneously. And Rafa is part of that history whether Chelsea fans like it or not. Do Spurs have that history? Do Arsenal?? Nope they don’t.

We now live in a world of instant Gratification. We want everything done yesterday. But success isn’t like that. You have to work hard for it. You have to earn it. And no matter whom you play against or what competition you compete in, a win is a win. No football fan should turn their noses up to the Europa league or any competition as a matter of fact. The Europa league provides us with topics of discussions during the week. It gives Journalist’s more stuff to write about . It provides us with TV viewing on an otherwise boring Thursday night and in Chelsea’s case, win a piece of silverware. Irrespective of your view on the competition or Chelsea or Rafa, one man summed it up perfectly.

“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will all be judged on one thing: the result.” Vince Lombardi

And Chelsea got a result and a trophy, which is a lot more than 17 teams in the Premier league isn’t it!!