Carra keen on Euro campaign

Sunday’s 3-0 win at Anfield took the Reds above Tottenham and into

fifth place. Even though Spurs have a game in hand they have to go

to Anfield for the penultimate match of the season and Kenny

Dalglish’s side are now favourites to claim the European spot.

However, because of the upheaval at the club this season, with the

change of ownership in October followed by the January removal of

Roy Hodgson just six months into the job, many observers and fans

believe the Europa League will do more harm than good to the

rebuilding process. It is not a view shared by Carragher, who

insists the winning mentality which has returned under Dalglish

means the players want to compete for everything. “I know there is

a lot of talk about whether people want us to finish fifth but, for

me, Liverpool is European football,” said the 33-year-old. “That’s

what the club is about, and I’m desperate for us to get it. “It is

another trophy to go for. I’d have loved to have been in Dublin

(for this season’s final) in a couple of weeks – that would have

been fantastic for us and fantastic for the supporters. “If we keep

winning games, we’ve got a good chance of qualifying, but Tottenham

will probably feel the same, and I think (the Spurs game on May 15)

will be a great game now. “It is important for the team to keep

winning and maintain the feelgood factor. “It hasn’t been a great

18 months really for the club, it has been tough. “Now, though, we

can start to enjoy ourselves and go into games expecting to win.”

Contrary to popular opinion, Carragher thinks being involved in the

Europa League – the Champions League looks beyond their reach now

with Manchester City seven points ahead with a match in hand – may

actually be a help rather than a hindrance. Liverpool’s European

campaign this season started on July 29, albeit with a number of

fringe players because of the knock-on effect of the World Cup. The

Reds vice-captain believes utilising the whole squad will keep

things competitive and harmonious in the early stages of the new

campaign. “Of course I can understand why fans would not want us to

be in the Europa League and [as players] playing Thursday and

Sunday doesn’t give you much time to recover,” he added.

“Realistically the manager would use the squad to start with and it

would be good for the young players to get European experience as

well. “And I am sure we will be adding some new players to the

squad next season so we would have a bigger squad than we have now

and more players could be involved, playing more games. “When you

are only playing every Saturday it is difficult to keep players

happy because you don’t change the team so much so you end up

having 10 or 12 unhappy players. “Sometimes having more games can

keep everyone happy at the club.” Carragher is set to become the

club’s second-highest appearance maker next Monday at Fulham having

gone level with Emlyn Hughes and Ray Clemence on 665 against

Newcastle. “It is something to look back on at the end of your

career – just to be anywhere near these people is a great honour

for me,” said the veteran centre-back, who is captaining the team

in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard. “For now I want to

look forward, to get more appearances, and hopefully help the club

do well and win trophies.”