Stevie’s “perfect” Europe talk and balancing the books.

All seems good after Sunday’s game.

The result, 3-2 over Spurs, lifted us above Everton (who admittedly have a game in hand) to sixth, our highest league position so far. Inevitably this has resurrected talks about Europe. Is it on?

When debating this the phrase “once bitten twice shy” immediately springs to mind. Many is the time this season we’ve seen a false dawn and made our speculative talk look stupid as things go pear shaped This instance, if we to repeat the same process, will be no exception however, for once, BR seems to have the right words

“I am not thinking of that (qualification for Europe). We’ll just keep collecting points and see where it takes us”

Nonetheless the media will seize on it and probably won’t let it go until an answer is given. Steven Gerrard was more open about the situation if not altogether committing himself.

“We will need to produce the perfect finish to sneak in the back door. The top five places are the target. Let’s see what happens in other big games that are not in our control…. Hopefully the teams above us will slip up. All we can control is our performances and our consistency and hopefully we will finish strong.”

Will we finish strong? Our remaining games are against Southampton, Villa, West Ham, Reading, Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton,. Fulham and QPR. I guess we should expect to win at least half a dozen of these which won’t be enough for Champions League and probably the Thursday Night Naughty Step Cup. Personally I’m not too fussed I’ve long been resigned to the fact that this is a season where, hopefully, we are sorting things out with a view to making more of a mark on 2013-14. If a by product of this is European qualification then fine if not well it’s good night on the TV on Thursday anyway! Someone once said it’s not the outcome that kills you it’s the hope, well for this season “hope” has slowly been anesthetized. It’s no so bad as wins like last Sunday and the one at Wigan suddenly become a present surprise!

“Hope” still remains re someone who was lucky enough to be around when we were in our pomp however, more than anything in this campaign it’s hit home that we aren’t the force we were and aren’t likely to be for some time. The accounts, published last week, don’t really give us any reason to assume, despite the accompanying spin, that things will be any brighter in the immediate future. Debts have increased by 30% to around £87m, it seems most of this is due to costs associated with changing the squad, a round about way for saying that we paid off peoples contracts or took a loss on the initial outlay? It’s an interesting tactic by the current regime suggesting that they are having to undo the mistakes of the past before we can improve yet, paradoxically, they also state that reaching two cup finals (success in any ones book) increased revenue!

Despite this, and the fact the accounts don’t show the kit cash we’ve got from Warrior yet, Ian Ayre tries to put a brave face on it.

“I take comfort in the fact that the work we have done, some of which costs us a lot of money in this period and beyond, looks pretty painful at the time. But as long as you invest in it and manage it in the right way, then hopefully it bears fruit as we go forward… in a world where we are expected to break even.”

Hardly encouraging words and, significantly perhaps, no mention of the improvements we are supposed to be making to the ground which will only serve to worsen these figures? In short it looks like there is more pain to come on the field, how long can we expect to keep Suarez for example and off the field which is seen in the latest hike in ticket prices.

Argh tickets. This is just a coincidence however an ex girlfriend of mine who still works for the same company as me (no it isn’t really that awkward) unearthed a load of my stuff in her loft. Amid the bits and bobs was a KOP season ticket from season 1991-92. The cost of that ticket, which enabled me to see all our league games – £90! Yes that £90 for an entire season of games. No one is telling me that prices have only gone up in real terms.

Our ticket prices aren’t the league of Arsenal and Chelsea however, nonetheless in these hard times they are bound to attract criticism. The issue, and the owners know it, is that there is a long waiting list of people who will be more than willing to move up the queue and pay those prices. Football isn’t like other business if Tesco up their prices you go to Sainsbury’s or ASDA. If Liverpool put up their season ticket prices are we going to move to Everton? Come to think of it though may be Tranmere might start thinking about getting a few more pies in!

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