Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Standard Unchartered territory for Liverpool

Amid the chaos of false statistics and dodgy opinion polls (did they ask you?) that dominate the headlines in the lead up to an election, let us cut the crap and hazard a few guesses on more important matters. Such as, what lies ahead for Liverpool FC.

Recent polls suggest that many Liverpool fans are still behind the manager, despite their poor season, which should have seen them building on last season’s title challenge but has instead seen them slip away from Sky’s favourite gimmick – The Big Four. However, many fans are also conceding that it could be time for Rafa Benitez and Liverpool FC to go their separate ways. Results of the imagined poll suggest it’s 50-50 as to whether fans want him to stay, but 100% of fans should be grateful to Rafa for what he has done for the club, whatever the outcome of the next few weeks.

In a survey taken by Hotair and Magma, who recently sponsored the Icelandic volcano, it was found that the majority of fans blame the “American capitalist scumbags”, or Tom and Jerry as we like to call them (or Mutt and Jeff), for the recent downturn in the clubs fortunes. Whilst all the blame surely can’t lie at their door, it has been decided that all the blame should lie at their door, as their door was bought using loans taken out using the club as collateral. The fans have taken the door back as it is rightly theirs, so the blame has been let in with the wind and caught Gillett and Hicks unawares as they squabbled over their one copy of NHL 2010.

On the subject of Benitez signings, fans were asked in the street by a Pole, sent out by YouGov to determine whether or not Benitez has been successful in the transfer market over the years. No reasonable conclusions were drawn as the Pole struggled to understand some of the regional accents he came across, but some snippets included, “had nothing to spend”, “yanks gave him nothing”, “Antonio Núñez”, “had to sell to buy” and “Get Brackley and Brooking back on Pro Evo”.

Having apparently just taken full control of the clubs transfer policy this season, it is difficult to cut through the mist of who was actually a Benitez signing and who was signed by the club before this time. Though the net spend is apparently not as much as some clubs around us (depending on which statistics you believe), he has still spent large amounts of money on the players in the Liverpool “Squad” this season.

Critical points:

• Liverpool should have got more in return for Arbeloa and Alonso, maybe even a player to replace Alonso; Wesley Sneijder would have been brilliant.

• The question of Benitez’s man management has been raised several times, most recently by Fernando Torres. This was also evident when Gerrard and Torres were bemused at the latter’s substitution during the Birmingham game.

• Whilst Aquilani has started to show his quality, it has taken him nearly a full season to get fully match fit and even now never seems to be a pivotal part of Rafa’s game plan, resulting in him being a substitute, or being substituted regularly.

• And you also have to question the dramatic fall in stature of Ryan Babel and Lucas Leiva, two of the most exciting prospects on their respective continents on signing for the club.

• Dirk Kuyt was a good striker.

Maybe it’s time for both manager and club to freshen things up with a change. The lack of Champions League football next season may force this anyway, as many of Liverpool’s stars may take off to other clubs, and Rafa Benitez will be wanted by other clubs looking for a fresh approach.

The important thing for the future is that Liverpool appoints a manager who spends wisely the money they will receive on player sales this summer, and a manager who can improve their overall system of play to give them a fighting chance of competing for a top four finish next season.

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