England currently occupies fifth position in UEFA’s coefficient rankings for 2023-24 ahead of next year’s Champions League revamp.
Even Liverpool, the most successful English club in European competition, have no divine right to Champions League qualification.
The Premier League’s competitive nature occasionally throws a spanner in the works for the ensuing campaign. This time around, Liverpool had to make do with the Europa League after they missed out a top-four spot.
When Spanish, Italian or German clubs endure a below-par season, they tend to retain their Champions League status. The same cannot be said for those in England.
Jurgen Klopp’s side settled for Europa League football as Arsenal and Newcastle United regained their top-four status after several years on the sidelines.
However, a solid start to 2023-24 has resulted in many already backing Liverpool’s return to Europe’s elite dining table as a foregone conclusion.
Should changes to the Champions League format next year – which could grant the top five placing Premier League teams qualification – ensure the Reds do not miss out?
Controversial amendments to the fresh structure will allow an extra Champions League place for the two best-performing nations across UEFA competition this season. Given the Premier League’s might, England were widely tipped to secure one of those positions come May.
A league table is compiled throughout the campaign, with clubs earning their respective nations points for wins and progressing to the latter stages of competition. As it stands, England are fifth – with Turkey and Belgium leading the charge.
Manchester United have fared the worst so far, sitting rock bottom of a group which looked straightforward on paper.
Newcastle United, too, sit at the foot of Group F and face daunting clashes against Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund.
Brighton have hardly set the Europa League alight while Liverpool and Arsenal are partially culpable with losses to Toulouse and Sevilla.
Unsurprisingly, only Manchester City have performed at their dominating best with four consecutive Champions League wins.
It should be noted that English clubs will be favoured to rack up coefficient points once each competition reaches its latter stages.
Even Unai Emery, for example, is an expert in European competition and has Aston Villa well-placed for a successful Conference League run.
Liverpool will back themselves to ignore the convoluted system and secure a top-four spot regardless. A possible title charge could even be on the cards as the Reds can level Manchester City by beating Brentford on Sunday.
But the latest UEFA ranking should serve as a telling reminder not to get complacent – or risk playing Thursday night football again next year.
The great irony is how Liverpool fans could be cheering on their rivals – and vice versa – during the final throes of the campaign, all in the name of those illustrious, long-acclaimed coefficient points.