Former Liverpool star urges club to prioritise Europa League

Paisley Gateway

Ex-Liverpool striker Michael Owen says that the club should now be aiming for Europa League success.

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen has insisted to the Liverpool Echo that the club should now be looking a winning the Europa League as a top priority.

Jurgen Klopp's side are struggling with inconsistency this season and are eighth in the Premier League table, nine points off a Champions League spot after winning just two of their last seven league games and crashing out of the FA Cup to West Ham United at the fifth round stage.

However, the German manager has led the Reds to the Capital One Cup final, and the club progressed to the Europa League last 32 as unbeaten group winners.

Owen, who won the tournament's previous incarnation, the UEFA Cup, with Liverpool in 2001, believes that with a Champions League place up for grabs for the winners, it is time for the club to start treating Europe's secondary competition more seriously.

The former England striker told the Echo: "When you get to the knockout stages, it is always a strong line-up. I remember when we won it in 2001, we had to play a lot of strong sides. It was almost like a Champions League campaign.

"It has been derided in the past, but in a strange way some would say it’s the hardest competition to win because you’ve got to play so many games. The strength is there, especially when all the Champions League teams drop in. As I know from experience, it’s a very good one to win as well.

"Bringing in the Champions League qualification place into the reckoning has really lifted it up the priority list for a lot of people. It was a really good move. It’s definitely changed attitudes towards it, but to me it was always a really important trophy anyway."

Jurgen Klopp's side face a two-legged last 32 tie with German side Augsburg in the coming week, with the first leg taking place in Germany on Thursday night.

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