Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson insists he places no more significance on the Europa League now than he did before last week’s embarrassing Carling Cup exit.
The loss on penalties to League Two Northampton reduced the Reds’ chances of realistically winning a trophy to two, in Europe and the FA Cup, after another disappointing start to the Barclays Premier League.
And while Hodgson admits he has learned lessons from the Carling Cup shock, naming a strong squad to face Utrecht tonight in Group K for instance, he stressed winning in any competition was all that mattered.
“Our priorities have been to do the best in every competition,” he said.
“Although these days I will be accused on not doing that because people will say the (weakened) team I played against Northampton was not the team to win the game.”
Hodgson was asked if victory over the Dutch side, who have not lost at home in four European matches and not conceded in their last three, would give the side an important lift after two defeats and a draw in all competitions.
“There certainly is not the gloom that you would like to suggest,” was his response.
“But at the same time I can’t say everyone is delighted with the start we have had because we are not.
“We would have liked to have been sitting near the top of the table with 12 or 14 points and we would have been happy as sand-boys.
“That’s what we wanted but you don’t always get what you want.”
Hodgson, who said yesterday he had not decided whether to give striker Fernando Torres his first Europa League start tonight, is looking for the victory which will take his side two-thirds of the way to qualification for the knockout stage.
“We saw Utrecht beat Celtic 4-0 so we are under no illusions that we are playing a very good team and we will have to be very good if we are to get a result from the game,” he added.
“Nine or 10 points is probably my guess (of what is required to progress) but don’t put any money on it because I’m not very good at predicting these things.”
Forward Dirk Kuyt returns to the home of his first professional club and, to date, the only place where he has won a trophy.
The 30-year-old is still hoping to change that during his remaining years at Liverpool after near-misses in the 2007 Champions League final and the Barclays Premier League in 2009.
“My only trophy so far was the cup final here in Holland for Utrecht, against Feyenoord,” he said.
“I hope it isn’t my last trophy, because I want to win many trophies. ”It is a strange feeling that it is my only trophy and I want to put that right.“
Ton du Chatinier’s Utrecht side reached the Group stages of the competition courtesy of a 4-0 rout of Celtic at Stadion Galgenwaard.
“The motivation of playing Liverpool will be enough,” said the coach.
“I am anxious to know what my team will do but that is normal, I’m not afraid.”