We got some interesting – and good – news on the Champions League progression path the other day, and even better news about the Europa League Group Stage qualifying campaign.
It was the sort of tonic we needed amidst a lot of doom and gloom predictions.
It seems that our Champions League path is not as perilous as it might have been; we will avoid some of the truly big guns in it.
Not all, but some. There is room for us, if the draw falls right, to bludgeon our way in there.
But God, the hour is growing late.
The ties we face are tough ones – Rapid Vienna, Galatasaray or Midtjylland could await us in the first qualifiers – but it’s not as bad as it might have been because we’re seeded in the first two rounds.
I still don’t think we’ll make it because the progression path has never been tougher, but it no longer looks impossible … the real problem is that we aren’t ready.
The length of time it has taken us to start getting things in order leaves us at a tremendous disadvantage, with a mammoth squad rebuild to do and not a lot of time. That should be resolved this week, but I have to say that unless we’re already far advanced on the rebuilding job that I think we’ve already left it too late to be ready for the first games.
The other piece of interesting news has annoyed a lot of the Sevconuts; if we get through our first qualifier we would be guaranteed to go straight into the Europa League Groups in the event that we lose in the Champions League.
They would have to play another qualifier to do that, something that has puzzled them and annoyed the media in that way that makes me smile.
The news here is a big lift to us and means that the road to group stage football is pretty straightforward and Europa League football should be the minimum goal.
There really won’t be any excuse for not getting us over that line, and that anger will be directed at the boardroom, first and foremost.
A lot of fingers are going to point at the director’s box for not getting critical appointments made in time.
But at least now we know what we’re facing.
We at least know that the path is easier than it might initially have seemed.
We’ve made life hard for ourselves, but not so hard as it to render it impossible.
There’s an opportunity here if we play it right.