Where’s the new Gary McAllister when Liverpool need him?
Liverpool’s run of four straight defeats has generated a lot of discussion about what has gone wrong, but precious little about how to put it right, aside from the suggestion that it might be nice to see Kenny Dalglish back in the dugout.
So let’s leave aside for a moment Rafa’s handling of big players and whether he should have kept hold of Sami Hyypia and Xabi Alonso, and consider what the club’s next moves should be.
As many have noted, without Fernando Torres they look impossibly ordinary in attack, and when Andriy Voronin was brought on with a few minutes to go against Lyon it seemed to many fans an indictment of the Spanish coach’s transfer dealings.
Certainly Liverpool could do with another top class forward but with money short the chances of them landing David Villa or someone similar in the transfer window are remote. And in any case, I’m not sure pitching in a player like Villa at the halfway stage of the season would provide the answer.
What Liverpool really need is a player with a touch of gravitas, the sort of performer who can command respect from team mates and opponents alike, can put his foot on the ball, weigh up the options and give players around him a lift.
Arguably the best signing Gerard Houllier made, apart from Hyppia, was Gary McAllister. The Scot was 35 when he moved to Anfield yet he still had a profound effect on the team, playing an instrumental role in the run to the Cup treble of 2000-01 and, more importantly, the club’s first qualification for the Champions League.
How Benitez could do with a player cut from the same cloth. But where should he turn?
David Beckham might have been a solution — well, Michael Owen did sign for United, after all — but the England man seems set for another stint with AC Milan.
He is no McAllister, but in the absence of such a player Liverpool might consider making a bid for Rafael van der Vaart, a player with the same sort of quality on the ball and the experience of leading a team during his time at Hamburg SV.
He is currently warming the bench at Real Madrid and might jump at a chance to show what he can do in the Premier League.
But if not the Dutchman, who would you suggest? They certainly need to find inspiration from somewhere, as they contemplate the possibility of falling 10 points behind Manchester United on Sunday.