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Dreams of glory for Red and Blue tribes

Dreams of glory for Red and Blue tribes

Aug 10 2007

by Tony Barrett & Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo

Tony Barrett on why a title challenge is a must for Liverpool

THE dawn of the new football season – a time for optimism, excitement and hope.

Well, that’s if you support one of the big four clubs which dominate English football.

For the rest it’s just more of the same, plodding along while the big boys pick up the major prizes.

Thankfully, as a Liverpool supporter I get to dream of trophies in May and glory along the way. But there is only one thing I want from Rafa Benitez’s men this season – a genuine title challenge.

We’ve been to two European Cup finals in the last three years so we’ve got nothing to prove on the continent.

All that matters this time around is the Premiership and proving once again that we are a force to be reckoned with and not just an also ran who will limp home 20-odd points behind the champions come next May.

Last season, I knew we would not challenge after just a single day of the season when Liverpool scraped a point at Sheffield United with a dour display.

So tomorrow I will be in the away end at Villa Park hoping that my optimism will be fuelled by a victory and a performance which shows that we may actually be ready to take on Man United and Chelsea in the race for the title.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho are all too well aware that Liverpool have the respect they so obviously crave for their clubs in Europe and hopefully that will mean the Champions League is a bigger priority for them than the Premiership.

That would leave a gap for Liverpool to sneak through and end a wait for the league championship which is threatening to go into a third decade.

We have only mounted a serious challenge twice since we last won it in 1990 – in 1997 when we ended up finishing fourth in a two-horse race and 2002 when we were pipped to the post by Arsenal.

This time around we are going into a new season with everything looking good at Anfield.

We have new owners who have given Rafa Benitez the financial backing to bring in players he genuinely wants rather than having to settle for second best after his first choices have gone elsewhere, our top stars have all committed themselves to the club and work is soon to begin on our magnificent new £300m stadium in Stanley Park.

All we need now is a genuine title challenge.

* Tony Barrett’s Liverpool blog, The Red Shirt Diaries, can be read at

Greg O’Keeffe wants a season of solid achievement

AS THE migraine which has become Everton’s new stadium debate continues to rage, I’ll be welcoming the new season with open arms.

It will be refreshing to have something else to think about rather than Kirkby, Tesco, Loop-lines, Bestway and bickering.

Nice to get back to basics and the weekly 90 minutes of Premiership football.

Results on the pitch are almost as crucial as investment to drive our club back to where we belong.

That’s why this pre-season transfer chase, which got surreal at times, has been so frustrating.

We’ve only added three new faces to one of the most threadbare squads in the league, and still look short in midfield and attack.

But it’s important to recall the positivity reverberating around Goodison after the win against Portsmouth last season which guaranteed UEFA Cup football.

So, while I’ll still have my fingers crossed for a Yakubu, Fernandes or any other beneficiary of the decent transfer wedge we've suddenly acquired, I’m going for optimism.

Firstly I’d like this season to be about league consolidation.

It would be nice to end the yo-yoing form which has been a negative during Davie Moyes’s reign.

It’s going to require luck with injuries, which was in short supply last term, and more big seasons from our rocks; Howard, Lescott, Arteta and Johnson.

Arteta’s still the main man at Goodison and the defensive steel of Jagielka and co. will hopefully leave the little Basque more space to sparkle.

Then, to the UEFA cup and a tournament which we ‘graced’ in 2005.

I’d like to see the Blues glide through the group stages, give us a few sunny away days to savour and then see what the knock-outs bring.

Adding to our squad before the transfer window shuts will help prevent European football from knocking our Premiership form.

Finally we could re-kindle the spirit of ‘95 and have a cup run to eventually give Moysie the chance to jig about at Wembley.

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