Stuart Pearce believes Gary Neville’s opinion Liverpool should ‘kick the Champions League into touch’ is only ‘95 per cent right’.
A failure to progress in the Champions League would give Jurgen Klopp’s side a wealth of rest time as they would no longer be playing midweek fixtures, and this could be a huge advantage over their title rivals who are likely to still be in Europe by that stage of the campaign.
Chelsea’s league success in 2016/17 came about because they never once had to play European fixtures, which meant they were by far the fittest and most injury-free of all the title contenders.
Discussing Neville’s belief on talkSPORT, former England defender Stuart Pearce explained his own view, saying that he only agrees ’95 per cent’ with the Old Trafford great.
“Given the choice at the start of the season – if I were a Liverpool fan – which one would I like to get my hands on, it would probably be the Premier League.
“It’s been so long since Liverpool won the league – I was still playing!
“That would be the priority for me.
“I wouldn’t do it at the cost of the football club not getting out the group stages of the Champions League. I would like the team to qualify out the group, and then after Christmas when you are involved in the latter stages, have the option to rest one or two players.
“If you are very close to the Premier League title and very close to progressing in the Champions League, I would probably strengthen my side in the league.
“If whoever it may be needs a rest and you’ve got a game in the Champions League on Wednesday night, then a real big Premier League game on the Saturday, rest the player [in] the Champions League.
“They’ve still got a really strong squad so it’s not as if you’re putting kids in, but the Premier League would certainly be the priority for me.”