As regular readers will know, the Europa Conference League is not my favourite competition. Had we wound up in it instead of the Europa League I wouldn’t have wanted to attend a single game. But now that we are in it, after an heroic Europa League campaign, I think we all want to see us go as far in the tournament as possible.
I watched Brendan Rodgers the other day utterly disdaining the competition. The arrogance in his comments was manifest. He has, perhaps, failed to recognise that it was his own failure to properly organise a multi-million pound EPL squad that has condemned him to that fate. Or perhaps he simply wanted to change the story and move it on from there.
His Leicester team should be joining Spurs in UEFA’s third tier tournament, which the London club has been favourites to win almost from the moment the competition kicked off. They were one of the sides we could have got in the draw.
But Spurs are, this morning, facing a humiliating exit from the Europa Conference League, with their postponed game against Rennes now completely called off. As it won’t be rescheduled, the matter has been referred to UEFA’s control and discipline body. That strongly suggests that they will forfeit the tie. And that, friends, puts them out of the tournament.
This doesn’t make us automatic favourites or anything – there are still a lot of good clubs in that tournament – but it means that, really, the teams we can get in the draw are all ties you would look at and think, on paper, that we should win.
This gives us a chance of progressing.
How far we progress depends, I think, to a large extent on what January business we do. But that seems well in hand. In a week where we’ve taken some knocks, this might be the moment – fingers crossed – that our luck starts to turn.