IT MIGHT not be everyone’s ideal Thursday night, but you’d be hard pressed to argue that the Merseyside public have turned their back on the Europa League.
Vrtual full houses against Gomel and Hearts, and not far off against Udinese, would suggest that this widely-derided competition still retains some attraction for Liverpool fans.
Despite its over-blown format, with seemingly interminable qualifying rounds and the ludicrous parachuting of failed Champions League contenders at two stages of the tournament, the games themselves still seem to exude an allure that Reds supporters find hard to resist.
Of course the glamour of midweek European football, however diminished by comparison with the senior competition, will always hold a special enchantment for Liverpool fans, given the legion of magnificent spectacles we have beheld over the years, many of which have occurred in this competition’s predecessors.
The triumphs of 1973 and 1976 will still be fresh in the minds of those who witnessed them, while the 2001 final against Alaves is surely unmatched for drama in the tournament’s 55-year history.
The club’s general fortunes will typically have an influence on attendances, and though we’ve not exactly been setting the world alight this season, curiosity over the new manager’s tactics and selections has ensured a healthy level of interest that will continue, for a while at least, to ensure a large crowd for every competitive game that we play.
Often too, the chance to see some fringe players, and particular those young players straining at the leash for a chance to play in the first XI, will induce fans to leave their sofas and ITV4 and find their way to Anfield for a match in which many neutral observers wouldn’t display more than a passing interest.