“I’m not sure what it is.”


Leicester City entered the final day of the Europa League group stage competition in quite a solid position today.

As well as their group, a win or draw against the Napoli chase would have been enough to take them through to the knockout stages of the tournament, which sits a tier below the Champions League but offers a potential trip to the competition the most prestigious via victory.

Then they fell behind 2-0. It’s bad. But they came back tied, 2-2. It’s good! Then they allowed a decisive goal in the second half, losing 3-2. It’s bad. The situation escalated when the other group’s result really wasn’t what they needed, knocking Leicester out of the event.

Worse than seeing Europe’s hopes for their season dashed: they are now forced to play in the UEFA Conference League, which is a bit like losing an NIT game and then being forced into the CBI. (Yes, that’s not an exact analogy, but in terms of the team just wanting to go home but unable to, that certainly fits.)

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers was asked about the Conference League in his post-match press conference, a question which also appeared to be the first time anyone had mentioned the Conference League to Brendan Rodgers:

“I have to be honest, I don’t even know what the competition is, honestly.”

Rodgers can be forgiven for his ignorance here as the Conference League is currently in the middle of its inaugural season. For reference, this is an effort by UEFA to give more teams a chance to compete in European competition, those that would normally have no chance of progressing even in the Europa League, let alone the U.S. League. champions. (So ​​teams from smaller countries and European confederation leagues.)

For Leicester, that means they, along with seven other Europa League group stage finalists, will now face the eight teams that finished second in the Conference League group stage in the knockout round, for the right to advance to the final knockout round against the Conference League group winners. Considering Leicester are currently in the middle of the EPL table, Rodgers would probably prefer to be able to focus entirely on the English competition over time, rather than having to manage a European travel schedule and extra fixtures.

That he even managed to feign respect for the Conference League in his response is quite admirable, all things considered.

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