Liverpool fans, be afraid

Be very afraid, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Sven Goran Eriksson has thrown his hat into the ring for the managers job, and with an admission that apparently he is a life long Liverpool fan!!

I believe that Liverpool did the right thing in sacking Benitez, but even I’d have to admit that Rafa would surely be a better bet than Sven.

The bookies currently have Eriksson 4th in the betting at a best price of 7/1 with Ladbrokes. Martin O’Neill is favourite at 7/4, Roy Hodgson is 9/4 and King Kenny is 4/1.

According to one Liverpool fan I heard on a radio phone in, Roy Hodgson isn’t up to the job, as he has never managed a club as big as Liverpool.

Make your own minds up on that one!

I’m sure he’s never managed a club in as much disarray as Liverpool. The fan in question also said he would gladly welcome back a man who hasn’t managed for the best part of 10 years though.

Romantic as a Dalglish return sounds, football is a serious business and surely Kenny has had his day.

A caretaker capacity, yes by all means. But next permanent manager…..not for me.

Is Rafa set to go at last?

It would appear that Liverpool are looking to at last off load Rafa Benitez. According to the BBC, Liverpool are set to offer him a £3M severance deal to go now.

It is an ambitious offer from the Liverpool board to offer him just the £3M, when apparently Rafa’s contract is worth a reported £16M.

I do believe he would only be entitled to all that money if he didn’t work during the duration of the length of the remainder of his contract, I would imagine Rafa is a man of ambition who wouldn’t be prepared to sit on his arse and just watch the cash role in over the next few years.

Could the catalyst for this decision be the Liverpool boards fear of losing Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres over the summer?

The body language of Gerrard over the season suggested he didn’t have any faith or belief left in Rafa, it is hard to imagine Gerrard still being at Liverpool next year if Benitez is still there.

While Torres looked a frustrated figure for most of the season run-in. On more than one occasion Torres had to be restrained by team mates from blowing his top. Ironically Benitez had to calm him down at half-time at Old Trafford, when Rafa was probably the real reason he was angry.

Whether Benitez accepts this deal or not, I can’t see anyway he can stay on at Anfield now. His days are numbered as his job will now be totally untenable.

He won’t be out of work for long though, afterall his CV isn’t too bad. Italy, in the form of Juventus, looked to be his destination for a long time recently. With that post now filled, the same country may well be waiting for him, this time in the form of Inter Milan.

Is Rafa really going to go?

The stories linking Rafa Benitez with a summer move to Juventus still won’t go away.

Rafa had chances to commit his future to Liverpool over the weekend, but stopped short of saying that he is staying. His agent though, has since said that he definately wants to stay at Anfield.

It’s hard to know what the truth of the matter is. My original view was that Rafa wanted out, but didn’t want to leave without a golden handshake to compensate him for what he could get if he waited for the sack. That was why I thought he was stalling.

Now I’m not so sure, as all the signs coming out of Anfield are very confusing.

Is Rafa refusing to commit himself because he is waiting to see what his transfer budget is? Or is he delaying so that he can see what new chairman Martin Broughton’s plans for the future are?

And should we read much into the fact that apparently Benitez has cancelled two proposed meetings with Broughton lately, in fairness to Rafa that could have been down too circumstances.

If the scheduled meetings fell around the time Liverpool had to take two days travelling to Madrid, then it’s no wonder Benitez couldn’t meet him.

All these things add to the intrigue.

Another view to throw into the mix is Broughtons. For all we know the new chairman might not rate Rafa and might make his feelings clear at the proposed meeting. He might feel a clean break is best for all parties.

One indication as to the outcome of this saga could come from the bookmakers. Bookies don’t normally get much wrong, and Sky Bet are 1/5 that Rafa WON’T be Liverpool manager at the start of next season. Read into that what you will.

The way I look at it is that it looks like a deal that suits all three parties, Juve want him, Rafa wants to go, and Liverpool want shot of him. So why they don’t they all just get on with it.

Cautious Rafa at it again

It was a decision that could have finished off Liverpool’s chances of finishing 4th. With Spurs slipping up and Man City winning, surley Liverpool had to win against Birmingham on Sunday to keep the pressure on in the race for 4th place.

If Man City now win their game in hand they will be 7 points clear, with only 5 matches remaining.

The decision taken by Rafa Benitez to sub Torres after 65 mins, had the Liverpool fans booing, skipper Steven Gerrard looking bemused and annoyed, and the man himself, Torres, coming off shaking his head in disbelief.

It showed to me that the senior players have little, or no confidence left in Benitez.

No wonder Torres keeps losing his head, the story that Benitez had to calm him down at half time against Manchester United was ironic, as Benitez is probably the reason why Torres has been so worked up lately. Also, should that not have been kept in house?

Is he also starting to lose the fans? In my experience of following football, the away following are the hardcore fans. They are the ones who see the bigger picture, and tell it as it is. Their booing of the decision to sub Torres was quite telling, and contradicts the generous chanting of Rafa’s name, regularly heard at home matches.

Maybe Sunday was a turning point in the fans feelings towards Rafa.

I actually felt a bit sorry for Benitez during the week. His comments about Aquilani and his sore ankle were probably right, it showed a frustrated man who is being let down by some of his players.

The problem is though, that he signed Aquilani. When the likes of Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson talk about signing a player, they comment about how they look beyond the players talent, they look at what kind of a character he is.

In the case of Aquilani, it would appear Rafa didn’t do his homework too well.

Torres may well have been tired, as he did put in a shift and a half against Benfica on Thursday night. At least he will be fresh for this weeks return leg in the Europa League, he might as well play in the match and get used to this competition, as under Rafa’s guidance he will be playing in it a lot more.

Rafa – A man of few words!

Albert Riera’s astonishing attack on Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez seems to confirm what a lot of us have thought for a long time.

While I except that Riera is obviously a frustrated and annoyed player at the moment as he is not playing, some of the criticism goes beyond the usual ‘the manager should pick me because I’m great and I’ve a big ego’ rhetoric we are used to hearing.

Riera gives an insight into life behind the scenes with Rafa. In claiming that Rafa “has never sorted out a situation with a player by talking to him” and that “his dialogue with the players is practically nil,” Riera is basically saying that Benitez has no man-management skills, something I’m sure Robbie Keane could confirm.

Just for good measure he also said that Liverpool resemble a “sinking ship.”

For a long time now we have seen the sight of Benitez celebrating a goal by looking stern faced and writing some notes on the back of his fag packet that he seems to be scribbling on all the time. He always looks an uninspiring, unhappy individual, and this season his personality seems to have been adopted by his team judging by their appearance.

They don’t look a happy bunch to me, I’ve previously wrote about Steven Gerrard’s poor body language, as far back as last December. We have also had Fernando Torres looking frustrated, he seems to be getting involved in more niggly incidents this season, and then last week he came out and made a veiled threat that he expects to see the club moving forward next season.

Now we have Riera who seems to have gone much further with his criticism, the main point for me is that it actually looks to be an accurate reflection on what we see almost every week, not just a bitter player lashing out.

Liverpool resemble an unhappy team with a bad team spirit, with a lack of empathy towards their manager, which is pretty much what Riera seems to be saying.

“When the coach says nothing to you and you are well, with no physical problems and training well, you cannot help but think it must be something personal”.

“If I’m doing something badly and you are my boss, and you value me, then you are going to come and tell me what I have to do to play again. This is what hurts me”.

“You see that the team are not doing well and there are no changes. It’s a little frustrating because you see that you can help.”

“I’ve been here two years and I know how he (Benitez) is. He’s never sorted out a situation with a player by talking with him. He thinks he’s in charge and everything else falls on deaf ears. His dialogue with the players is practically nil.”

All in all pretty damning stuff.

I personally don’t think Benitez will still be there next season, he has recently been linked with Juventus and Real Madrid, it could be said that his stock is falling and the end of the season could be the time to move on before it falls any further.

Can’t see the Madrid faithful taking him to their hearts, but it could depend on if they are prepared to watch negative dirge all season as long as they can win the Champions League. Juventus looks the ideal fix for me.

Gillett proves he is a real football man!

George Gillett gave an interview to Canadian radio station, Fan 590 Toronto Sports Radio, ahead of Liverpool’s Wednesday night home fixture against Tottenham.

In the interview Gillett claimed that Benitez had struggled to get the “morale of the boys back up” after the beach ball incident at Sunderland in October.

So thats the problem with the team, oh well, at least we know now.

It’s good to know that Rafa has assembled a squad so mentally weak that a ‘football’ hitting a beach ball back in October has totally ruined their season.

Gillett claimed it was a “fateful day” when the “soccer ball hit a beach ball, but they didn’t eliminte it, or cancel it”.

They didn’t “eliminate it, or cancel it” Thats great ‘soccer’ talk from a true passionate football man.

If that phrase isn’t enough to convince you that Gillett knows sod all about football, then the comment he also made that Rafa is in the top five coaches in the world should!!!

In a further example of his bullshit, he also claimed that both he and Tom Hicks agreed on this.

Rafa Benitez – Should he stay or should he go?

Still in a job Rafa might be, but there is already a book on who will be the next Liverpool manager such is the bad run of form they are in.

Fernando Torres has now called for the club to make available funds to provide a “much more complete squad,” suggesting he is not totally happy with the current one. In fairness to the owners the money already spent has not been very wisely invested.

Its all well and good fans complaining he hasn’t had the money to compete in transfer market. Looking at his track record if the club had a £50 million transfer budget would you really trust the man to spend it? I don’t think I would.

Benitez has become the main talking point again across the football world since the midweek FA Cup defeat to Reading, with the issue being about whether or not he should be sacked.

In truth the situation at Liverpool in general is not great with the Americans and their lack of funds, their constant bickering, the new argument about renaming Anfield, dodgy emails, the new ground, etc.

Then we have the increasing erratic behaviour of Rafa Benitez in his aftermatch TV interviews and press conferences, the perfect referee incident, his bizarre interview after Wednesday night’s defeat, then yesterdays most recent press conference where he revealed a small piece of paper and read out a short list of facts in a strange manner.

The truth is that he is becoming a laughing stock.

It’s hard to see the Americans sacking him now unless the bad run continues to such a point that his position becomes totally untenable.

Either way he is costing or going to cost the club millions of pounds and for me the question is, when – not if – is the best time to sack him?

Some facts are (as Rafa likes to say), Liverpool are out of the title race, Champions League, the FA Cup and the League Cup, the early Champions League exist will have a financial impact on the club as it will cost them millions, millions they may well have already budgeted for!

They are still in the race for a Champions League spot for next season and still in the Europa League, more facts.

Would sacking Rafa now increase Liverpools chances of making next seasons Champions League? That is one question. Can they afford to risk not being in next seasons CL?

Other negative facts are on the evidence of Wednesdays performance has he still got the dressing room? Hard to say he has on that showing.

Today’s game at Stoke should be interesting, if he still has the players on side you should see a response.

One thing you can be sure off is that they were all his signings or players he chose to keep from the previous regime and none of them stood up in Gerrard and Torres’ absence on Wednesday and took responsibility.

He certainly dosen’t look to have the confidence of his captain Steven Gerrard, going back as far as the home game against Lyon, Gerrards body language towards Benitez has been telling for me.

Will Gerrard leave Anfield in the summer if Benitez is still there? I think he will.

The benefits of keeping him

With the financial troubles Liverpool are in, the amount of money his contract is worth and all his backroom staff – that would also probably have to go with him – would cost the club a fortune.

Also would a big name manager be prepared to take over such is the clubs finances and uncertainty over the yanks future plans?

With the exception of Gus Hiddink, who is available?

How much would it cost Liverpool to sack him? How much could it cost them to keep him? They are difficult questions to answer and I wouldn’t like to be in that situation.

I suppose it must come down to do you have confidence in him getting you into next seasons Champions League? If yes, the keep him til the end of the season and then sack him. If no, then sack him now.

Ryan Babel ‘Twitters’ his frustration

Ryan Babel has become the latest footballer to reveal his thoughts publicly on his twitter page.

Babel feels hard done too in being left out of tomorrows squad to face Stoke City on the back of his performance against Reading on Wednesday night.

Why? I hear you ask.

It would appear that Babel thinks his performance was acceptable, just what planet he is living on, I don’t know, as his showing was a disgrace.

The fact that Benitez has chosen to leave him out when Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun are all out injured speaks volumns.

Lately I have been a critic of Benitez as I think he has more than had a chance at Liverpool and blown it, and I stand by my views. On the issue of Babel, I totally agree with Benitez, it is shaby heartless performances like the one he put in on Wednesday that gets managers the sack.

I commented on this blog earlier in the month that I thought Liverpool where lucky to have received an offer of around £8 million for him. Maybe Benitez will now have a rethink and go someway to putting some of his wrongs, right.

After all it was Rafa who said that Robbie Keane was resold to Spurs after having enough chances and not taking any of them. If this is generally the criteria of getting sold then surely Babel has well outstayed his welcome.

Credit where credit is due, I think you’ve got this call right Rafa. I am sick of seeing over paid, over hyped so called ‘stars’ who believe in their own myth’s getting away with not trying and taking the piss out of hard working fans and football clubs who pay their wages.

Well done Rafa.

Rafa in another fine mess

Liverpool’s season took another turn for the worse with Wednesday nights FA cup defeat to Reading at Anfield.

They now only have the Europa League left to play for as they are now out of the domestic FA and League cups, the Champions League and the title is long gone.

For me it is debatable as to whether they are even in the race for a top four finish such is their form and the form and money of Man City.

In a rare show of frustration from the loyalist of loyal fans the team were booed off at the end of the match, an incredibly rare event at Anfield.

I think it was Alan Hansen I once heard say that the fans will except defeat to a better team, but they won’t accept a lack of effort from their team. I think the fans response confirms which outcome this was.

There was little passion or commitment on show from the team when Torres and Gerrard where both on the field, there was far less once they both went off. It was like the team was rudderless.

Not only that, they lacked ideas, there was little creativeness – in fairness Aquilani is still finding his feet – and the likes of Ngog, Lucas and Babel just looked clueless.

If Ryan Babel really wants to stay and fight for a place in this team (as he stated he does) then that performance must leave you wondering what he would be like if he wanted to look disinterested in order to get a move away. It was unreal.

How much longer this can be tolerated from Rafa I don’t know. Surely he would be long gone with the gung-ho yanks by now, where he not on such a long lucrative contract.

Even the most ardent Benitez supporter who has stood up for him so admirably over the last few months must be questioning his faith after that.

If the performance on the pitch wasn’t bad enough, then his after match TV interview was. It was embarrassing.

When commenting on referee Phil Dowd’s performance, Benitez said “There were a lot of things out there I did not like, but I prefer not to say anything more.”

On the decision to award a penalty he said “You could debate for an hour whether it was a penalty or not, but what mattered was that it was awarded.”

Well I all I can say is that I watched the game and I thought it was a penalty, I thought that Dowd had a decent game as well. My only complaint would be just where he got the two minutes additional time at the end of the 2nd period of extra time from? It was traditional Fergie time!

Benitez can’t keep hiding behind excuses. The defeat had nothing to do with the performance of the referee, it was purely down to his team playing crap.

How much longer will Gerrard and Torres tolerate this for? At Gerrards age he must be fast moving towards his last chance for a big move if he wants to win a domestic league title (not necessarily in England), surely he can’t stay there next season if Benitez is still in charge.

His tenure at Anfield is becoming laughable and is starting to remind me of Gerard Houlliers last days there and David O’Learys constant excuse making at Aston Villa.

At this rate even the contract won’t be enough to save him soon! And that can’t come quick enough for me.