EPL return not just about Liverpool: Neil Humphreys
Clubs such as Sheffield United and Wolves deserve chance to make their campaigns count
English football does not revolve around Liverpool, even if it seems otherwise now.
Yesterday, the Reds celebrated the 15th anniversary of the "Miracle of Istanbul", which has now reached a mythical status that is somewhere between the first man on the moon and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Liverpool, in case you hadn't noticed, are everywhere.
If the old guard are not reminiscing about the 2005 Champions League triumph, then the current crop are giggling on the training ground and reminding everyone how delighted they are to be back.
Of course they are.
Project Restart might as well be called Project Remove Liverpool's 30-Year-Old Monkey.
With Jamie Carragher's insistence that the English Premier League must return - no matter what or when - and Gary Neville's giggly insistence that this season should be written off with an asterisk, it's hard not to conclude that Project Restart is all about Liverpool.
But it's not, quite the opposite in fact.
This might be Liverpool's season, but it will not be their only season.
Juergen Klopp's squad have at least a couple of campaigns left on the clock and an employer with a generous piggy bank, more than enough to challenge for major honours again.
The same cannot be said for Chris Wilder. Before Covid-19, the Sheffield United manager was on a road to immortality around the city of steel.
But his time has to be now. The future is impossible to predict for a club of the Blades' limited resources. His astounding success may not be replicated.
They were strongly tipped for relegation at the start of the season. The odds on the promoted club's survival were very long indeed. But Wilder proved a wily, inspirational tactician.
His 3-5-2 formation and a positive attacking approach left the Blades in joint-sixth position, with a decent shot at European qualification, perhaps even a back door to the Champions League.
To put Wilder's achievement into context, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's late revival was considered a testament to his unswerving commitment to Manchester United's aesthetic principles.
Sheffield United are just two points behind the Red Devils with a game in hand.
Should the Blades win that extra game, they'll be only two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. The Blues must still go to Bramall Lane.
Sheffield United finishing in fourth position is a viable proposition. If Manchester City's Uefa ban is upheld, the Blades could make their Champions League bow by finishing fifth.
From the English Championship to the Champions League in one (extended) season is a fairy tale with distant echoes of Leicester City's Cinderella run to the title.
The current nightmare of lockdowns and death tolls will gladly accept any happy ending.
The prospect of Sheffield United reaching Europe hardly offsets Covid-19's devastation, but that doesn't mean the Blades should be denied the chance to bring a ravaged community - and a wider football audience - a little joy either.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are in a similar position to conjure a feel-good story in a city short on optimism.
When Covid-19 first struck in the UK, the Midlands area around Wolverhampton had one of the highest death tolls.
Wolves' return would be a welcome, comforting distraction.
They are level on points with Sheffield United and the third favourites to win the Europa League, which secures qualification for the Champions League.
Like the Blades, Wolves can never be sure if this season's heroics are repeatable.
Liverpool are expected to restore the natural order in English football, but there are no such assurances for Nuno Espirito Santo and the season's over-achievers.
Just consider Leeds United. After 16 bungled attempts to return to the EPL, the Championship leaders enjoyed a seven-point cushion with just nine matches left to play. They were tantalisingly close to ending the cycle of failure.
And then Covid-19 put their ambitions on hold, ambitions that existed way beyond the Shankly Gates.
Liverpool's title chase is not a bigger dream, just a different one.
Whether it's a 30-year monkey, a first date in the Champions League or an EPL comeback, there are varied reasons to complete the season. They are all valid.
Project Restart is not just a Liverpool coronation. The Reds deserve their chance to make history, but so does everyone else.