Kendall blasts UEFA over Liverpool’s ‘wild card’

FORMER Everton manager Howard Kendall has launched an astonishing attack on the decision to allow Liverpool to defend their Champions League crown.

As Everton prepare to make their first appearance in the European Cup for 34 years, their former chief has revealed deep bitterness which remains over the way the Toffees were treated by UEFA in the days when Kendall’s team were English champions and denied a place in the tournament.

Kendall’s team were not allowed to compete in the European Cup in 1986 when all English sides were banned from Europe following Liverpool’s part in the Heysel disaster.

Kendall eventually left the club, along with several of his star players, as a result of a lack of European competition. And he now insists Everton should have been given a wild card - just as Liverpool have been this term - when English sides were eventually allowed back into the European Cup.

“Liverpool have finished fifth but have been given a wild card even though the ruling was that the top four qualified. But there was no wild card for Everton when English clubs were re-admitted to Europe. Instead Liverpool were the first club back in.

“Everton should have been given a place then after being denied as champions. It would not have benefited me at the time - I had left by then.”

Kendall has chosen to reopen old wounds in the week Everton and Liverpool are playing third qualifying round ties.

Everton are at home to Villarreal tomorrow, while Liverpool are away to CSKA Sofia the following night.

Everton face a very tough tie with Spain’s third-best club, who have former Man United striker Diego Forlan in their ranks.

And Everton’s former Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Arteta has warned his team must be fully aware of the threat that Forlan poses.

He says: “He had a great season and anyone who saw him will know he was Villarreal’s main attacking danger man.

“He got 23 goals last season and was one of the major reasons they finished third behind Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“At United I think it was difficult for him to force his way into the team, especially with Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring so many goals all the time.

“Maybe he now wants to prove the critics were wrong about him when he was at United. We need to be careful - he is very confident now so he is dangerous.”

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