Liverpool sit second in the Premier League table at the moment, and aside from the benefit they get being so close to Manchester City at the top of the standings, fans at Anfield can begin to picture themselves back in the Champions League next season.
Klopp must get the boys back to the UCL
This season marks the first time since the 2016/17 campaign that Liverpool are not in the Champions League.
Due to the return of Newcastle United and Arsenal to the continental stage, the Reds were unable to secure a strong enough finish in the English top flight last year. No chance for revenge against Madrid this year.
There are several goals for manager Jurgen Klopp and his squad. Deep runs in all three cup competitions are expected, with Liverpool among the favorites to lift the Europa League trophy.
Above all though, a return to the competition Anfield-faithful have seen won more than any other fan base in England is one of the essential targets for the club.
Why it has to be done now
Pep Guardiola has established City as the team to beat in England. First-place might not be out of reach for the Reds, but Liverpool are far from being the favorites to win the EPL for years to come.
This shifted domestic structure has changed how the club would qualify for the UCL via the league path.
City, though, are not the only team that Liverpool must worry about. Some clubs are finally benefiting from long-term planning that has brought their fans great results from seemingly nowhere.
Who saw Brighton playing as well as they are now? The upstarts, which include Arsenal thanks to their revelation under Mikel Arteta, are here to steal Liverpool’s spot.
Another factor in the domestic struggle is the money being poured into select clubs. Newcastle have not executed a long-awaited plan but instead benefits from a key influx of funds.
Still, clubs such as the Magpies pose a threat to Liverpool. The Reds must focus on developing crucial academy products and spending their money wisely.
Finally, two huge movements within the Premier League have created urgency for a Liverpool surge in the standings. Chelsea and Manchester United are down for the count.
The Blues shockingly sit 14th in the EPL with the Red Devils 9th. When two key rivals are struggling it is a time to solidify your spot as a heavyweight, and if Klopp is not careful, his club could lose that position to another hungrier squad.
Who the team can use to secure Champions League football this year
Anfield has returned to the days of Brendan Rodgers when, love him or hate him, there were players who anchored the squad and gave fans something to imagine in the future.
What does that mean? Well, look at the 2013/14 roster. An aging club legend Steven Gerard captained the squad. Kolo Toure also patrolled the backline with Martin Skrtel.
Some of the youngest footballers to take the pitch for Liverpool in that campaign included Raheem Sterling, Phil Coutinho and Luis Alberto.
None of them spent much time at Anfield, but all of them developed into respectable footballers in their own right.
Additionally, Jordan Henderson was no longer viewed as an upstart; he was establishing himself as one of the future’s best prospects to dominate world football.
That is what the supporters are starting to see now. Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk take the place of Gerrard and Skrtel.
Former Champions League winners, their time with the club has been historic, but it will not last forever. The Egyptian will go down as one of the world’s best attackers and the Dutchman a revolutionizer in the field of defending.
Young stars who hopefully see Anfield as their home for years to come include Dominik Szoboszlai and Curtis Jones. Szoboszlai was a key purchase of Klopp’s.
He could long be a workhorse in the middle of the pitch that creates many successful seasons for the Reds. Jones, an academy product and native of Liverpool, seems destined to be the next Gerrard.
As long as supporters give him space and time, he can build a partnership with the Hungarian that leads to more Anfield magic.
A special shout-out to Joe Gomez. Patient and critical at the back, he has been waiting for his opportunities to show why he deserves a spot in the starting eleven. Now he has that chance. Although he has been a regular starter in the past, a run of healthy campaigns could give him a successful run with Liverpool that ultimately see him cemented as a club legend.
How the Reds and Klopp can get back to the Champions League
The Reds properly dispatched LASK of Austria in their first Europa League fixture. Upcoming matches against Union Saint-Gilloise and Toulouse should not prove too difficult either.
At the moment, the only frightening club in the rest of the competition is Bayer Leverkusen. Former Red Xabi Alonso has created an amazing squad that currently co-leads the Bundesliga.
There will be some talented teams that drop from the Champions League, but nothing Liverpool needs to worry about.
Salah is hands down the most skilled player in the Europa League this season, and arguments can be made that Van Dijk and Allison are the best in their positions as well.
Nothing is guaranteed, especially if Sevilla manages to find themselves in their “favorite” competition once more, but expect Klopp to come very close to securing European silverware.
Liverpool will also challenge in the Premier League. In fact, they have as good a chance as anyone to beat City and top England’s first division.
However, Anfield’s return to hosting Europe’s biggest stage of club football will not be achieved by the snapping of fingers. Each contested match gets the club one step closer to reminding the world that even when there is a dry spell, Liverpool never walks alone.