Friday, 21 May 2010

Who was mostly to blame for last season?

Last season Liverpool failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time under Rafa Benitez. We were knocked out of the League Cup in the 4th round at the Emirates, and were embarrassingly thrown out of the FA Cup by Championship side Reading.

On top of that we failed to get out of the group stages of the Champions League for the first time during Benitez's 6 year stay on Merseyside. Although the Europa League provided brief respite, we were left heartbroken as Diego Forlan struck again to send us crashing out of Europe for the second time.

It's been one of the worst seasons this decade.

But who's to blame?

Many of the main stream media lay the blame solely at the feet of the manager, Rafa Benitez. They claim his signings during the summer were lunacy, that his substitutions have been illogial and that his tactial knowledge is somewhat lacking.

Moreover, they consider him to be too cautious and defensive minded,whilst also criticising his use of zonal marking (despite of the fact that Liverpool have continually performed well defensively under Rafa, and that Reina kept the joint-highest amount of clean sheets this season, for the fourth season out of five, all with zonal marking in place).

Others blame the players, claiming that consistently poor form from the majority of the players (with the notable exclusion of the excellent Pepe Reina) has led to the malaise that has engulfed Anfield this season.

Whilst neither the manager nor the players can be absolved of all guilt, my belief is that the majority of the blame lies at the feet of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

When they took over both Hicks and Gillett promised that they would be responsible custodians of the club, upholding the club's magnificent tradition and history whilst also developing the club by giving Rafa money to buy any transfer target he desired (remember Snoogy Doogy) and building a new 60,000 seater stadium.

In fact, Hicks promised that there would be a spade in the ground in 60 days. Over 3 years later and still Stanley Park looks the same.

Most importantly, they guarenteed that they hadn't purchased the club using a leveraged buyout, like the Glazer family had when they bought Manchester United.

For those not in tune with the business and financial world a leveraged buyout is, according to, the "takeover of a company or controlling interest (in our case takeover), using a significant amount of borrowed money." Moreover, the site goes on to say, "Often the target company's assets serve as collateral for the borrowed money."

Essentially, the cowboys bought our club using RBS's money and are now making us pay off the debt they created.

This has meant that the development of a new stadium in Stanley Park been put off, expanding the massive divide in matchday income between us and the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and even Chelsea, who have a capacity of 7000 fewer than Anfield however, due to the astronomical cost of going to Stamford Bridge, and other commercial ventures, the London Blues still make significantly more than Liverpool do at Anfield.

This leaves Liverpool behind the other top sides financially right from the start. Add to that the £450 million debt that has been lumbered onto the club by the yanks leveraged buyout and you've got a recipe that might just even make Pompey choke.

With money being a major contributing factor towards success in football these days the likelability of new trophies filling the Anfield trophy cabinet shortly decreases every year these parasitic cowboys stay at our club.

Financial pressures have left Rafa scraping the barrel searching for cheap, or free signings. Rafa's net spend for last summer was £10,000. The season before that, when we finished 2nd only four points behind Manchester United, he had a net spend of only £2.5 million.

If he can achieve a runners up position with this sort of investment then what could he do with half decent owners in charge?

Some supporters claim that the problems with the owners have covered for Rafa's bad management. However, you cannot ignore the financial situation that the club faces. As long as Rafa is forced to sell in order to buy than the only place we'll go is backwards. No one should be expected to win, or even challenge for the title with the sort of money that he has been given. I cannot think of any manager who could do better under the circumstances.

Also, if any other manager had achieved a 7th place finish and reached a European semi final with a net spend of only £10,000 they would be given the title of manager of the year. But with Benitez it's different, with the Spaniard repeatedly slaughtered by the ignorant and agenda driven media and supporters who should know better.

The announcement that the Yanks have put the club up for sale provides some hope for a better season next time around, however with Hicks rumoured to be wanting an eye-watering £800 million out of the deal it seems incredibly unlikely that any sale will take place quickly enough for Benitez to receive backing in the transfer window.

This leaves Rafa having to make do as well as he possibly can, yet again. Of course, that's if he decides to stay at the club this summer. I obviously want him to stay but I wouldn't blame him at all if he walked away.

After all that he has had to suffer from the owners, the media and, worst of all, a small section of our support, it is clear that the only reason he is willing to continue is his love and passion for the club.

That's why we love Rafa, and want him to stay.




  1. Excellent article, pretty much exactly how I feel right now. The Premier League should also shoulder some blame as they should not allow leveraged buyouts in any case especially to two clowns who have such an awful record in sports management

  2. completely agree. the premier league's policy of allowing anyone to buy a club has destroyed several teams, especially pompey, but also us and the mancs.