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TOMMY SMITH: Liverpool FC must respect Europa League if they want to end trophy drought

AS Liverpool kick off the Europa League campaign tomorrow night we can take a few lessons from recent history.

I remember heading into the FA Cup tie with Reading and there seemed to be no question as to who would progress.

A draw and a replay later and it hadn’t gone according to plan though.

That’s why we must be careful against Unirea Urziceni. If anything is taken for granted, we could be looking at another unwelcome cup upset.

Although there is one school of thought that says Unirea might simply be happy to be playing at Anfield, they’re not a bad side and only narrowly missed out on reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League.

While everyone would prefer us to be in that competition, we have to take the Europa League seriously.

The Liverpool philosophy has always been that, as soon as you went out of one competition, you set out to win the next.

The Europa League presents an opportunity for us to lift a trophy for the first time since the FA Cup in 2006.

The club’s reputation has been built on silverware and so we shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to add to that, be it in the Carling Cup, European Cup or whatever.

I’m not sure the squad is good enough to win the Premier League as it is but it should be good enough to win the Europa League.

Saying that I’d expect to see a strong team sent out against Unirea. We can’t afford to be complacent and field all the fringe players and kids.

Playing an under- strength side would immediately give the opposition an extra lift.

Plus, people pay good money to come to Anfield and watch the best players. If we want to win the competition we have to respect it.

They’re simply not as good as us.

For all the money that has been pumped into the club, City are stil some way off challenging the top teams in Europe as Liverpool have done for some years now.

The whole Robinho episode sums it up perfectly.

City have been let down with some of the players they’ve brought in. They don’t always play as a team, but more as individuals, which is no doubt why Robinho is no longer at the club. They tend to rely on the pace of the likes of Craig Bellamy on the left and one or two others.

The whole situation reminds me of Real Madrid. Just because you throw a load of money at it, doesn’t guarantee success.

City have improved a bit under Roberto Mancini but there have also been signs that all is not well.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have been playing well as a team again lately.

We’re playing as a unit again, with everyone relying on each other.

That’s why I believe we’ll come away from Manchester with maximum points.

Mascherano’s the new Cally

A major plus point for Liverpool lately has been the return to form of Javier Mascherano.

He reminds me of Ian Callaghan at times.

They’re different players but Cally would also give you everything, running all over the pitch.

Cally didn’t mind putting his foot in either, although he never got booked!

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