Have a look at most pundits and what they say. Whether they be ex-pro's, mediocre managers or even "salt of the earth" fans, they all seem to think that the race for fourth spot is a sad reflection of the league and should be lamented. I would ask why?
Comments usually revolve around them good aul days of when fourth meant nothing, if you finished fourth you were a loser and now it's something to be celebrated? Pah it’s just all so Liberal Democrat innit? Well isn't that a good thing? Isn't it great for the league as a whole that while you may not reach the heights of first that there's still something to play for? Does it, you know, make the whole thing a bit more fecking interesting?
Take the days before the four Champions League spots. A team finishes first sometime in April, then what? We play out the last few games until May, watch to see who's relegated and if we're lucky there's some action on the last day as teams scrap and fight to stay up. Now though, well now there's so much emphasis, esteem and money riding on a spot in the top four, the competition's a bit more exciting. Now each season, certainly that I can recall, there's been a fight to get that fourth spot. Not only that but say you haven't finished first, well there's still that fight to finish second and get the automatic qualification over your close rivals. How can it be so bad that we now have realistically a fight to gain important league positions? Jaysus, what's so bad about having some competition right up until the last minute of the season?
Why pundits have to try to debase a system that has opened up competition and given clubs that ordinarily would have been just considered losers something to fight and aim for is beyond me. I could suggest that it might just be sour grapes, that when they were playing they got no kudos, money or a place in Europe for finishing fourth, but I'd just be speculating.
We now have 8 league games to get that fourth spot. There's also Everton and Bolton eyeing the spot and playing their socks out to finish fourth. Go back 15 years and have the same situation, would the Derby just played on Sunday grip the nation as it did? Would the next game against Bolton mean anything? Of course not, nobody would give a damn. Instead we'd be in a position where by the end of April, Chelsea would probably win the league and then we'd be bored out of our minds while the next 3 games for everyone outside the bottom four or five are played out as exhibition matches.
While the pundits sit in the studios they've been chauffeured to, paid to talk about played back isolated incidents for about half an hour in total, we the fans watch our teams and are passionate to see our team not only do the best it can with whatever resources and be recognised for that success. Sure, I'd rather see Liverpool fighting for first, heck I'd rather see us have first wrapped up in April and then play out the last few games for a laugh. Even then though I'd still be watching the rest of the games as teams fight and play to get important league positions and I'll love every minute of every game that they show while thanking UEFA for introducing the four Champions League positions.
Maybe I just love a passionate game of football and appreciate anything that introduces more passion and more things to fight for. But then I'm just a Liverpool and football fan who pays out his own pocket to follow his team and support his team, my opinion counts for diddly squat. If the pundits reckon it’s a sad state of affairs that instead of two, maybe three teams having something to play for right up until the last game we now have up to seven, then they must be right.