Liverpool’s fans are on the warpath again, and their anger is directed firmly towards the club’s owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, while their support for Rafa Benitez remains firm.
Can I just ask one simple question – why?
Yes, Benitez has won the Champions League, and yes, he clearly understands cup competitions, of the European variety particularly. But he doesn’t understand the Premiership, and he’s in his fifth season in England now. Liverpool are not progressing, in fact they are back to where they began under him – hoping for European success to distract them from a battle with Everton for fourth place.
Financially, he has been well backed – although his sales raised some money in the summer, he splashed out an absolute fortune on new players, notably Torres (costing more than twice as much as anyone in Arsenal’s squad). Following that, he then claims he isn’t being backed in the market. Really?
He made a similar complaint last season, after he’d seen his young side demolished 6-3 in the Carling Cup, by none other than our kids, coming out after the game saying that he couldn’t spend the couple of million it took to sign those young players. There was no irony in his voice, despite the fact that only months earlier he had spent 14m on Craig Bellamy and Jermaine Pennant, while Kuyt took that summer’s spending over 20m on average players.
Liverpool are not going to be Premiership challengers under Benitez – he has revamped the squad and got precisely nowhere. This is not a team in transition – they haven’t won the league in eighteen years and have barely ever come close. There are no peaks and troughs, and it is only his cup record saving him.
But they are out of the Carling Cup, they scraped through the Champions League, and are miles off the pace in the league. If Inter Milan bring their Serie A form to Anfield their European adventure won’t last much longer either.
And then what?
And a note to Steve Gerrard – you can’t blame your team’s poor performances on the board room unrest. You’ve been consistently dropping points all season, winning just four of eleven home games. This isn’t a new occurrence. Arsenal, Chelsea and United have all gone to Anfield and come away with a result.
The longer the fans step back and back Benitez, the longer this will go on. He has spent a fortune, and only brought European success. Admirable though that is, it is all they will get.