Liverpool have been here before, and a sacking may not be the answer

January 15, 2010

SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUP

“For 25 years Liverpool were Britain’s most successful and consistent football club. For four of those years we were also the most successful club in Europe. No one has an automatic right to success but you can be sure we will all be doing everything in our power to achieve those levels again. We owe that both to our own supporters and our own history.”

The above quotation* is from the statement released by then Liverpool chairman David Moores following the resignation of Graeme Souness in January, 1994 after an embarrassing defeat to a second division club in a third round FA Cup replay.

Plus ça change, eh?

Liverpool have tried everything over the past 16 years to regain their status as England’s top club. They tried reviving the spirit of the Boot Room by appointing Roy Evans, looked outwards to the more technical and pragmatic Gerard Houllier and when that didn’t work out chose the coach with the best club track record they could find in Rafa Benitez, the man whose Valencia team had impressed management and senior players so much.

There have been successes along the way … the Houllier treble, Istanbul and a handful of other trophies but no league title since the days of Kenny Dalglish. Put simply, Liverpool are no closer to regaining their status as “Britain’s most successful and consistent football club” than when Souness waved farewell to Ray Houghton, Steve McMahon and Peter Beardsley and failed to bring in players with anything like the same quality.

So what next? Speculation is growing that the club may turn to Dalglish as an emergency short-term replacement for Benitez but Mssrs Hicks and Gillett would do well to consider whether a costly change would really help the club or just give the media another twist to a story they are telling with some relish.

Changing manager midway through the season rarely has much of a positive effect. There may be a case for it when the relationship between coach and players has broken down but there is no evidence of that at Anfield.

So Liverpool are out of the FA Cup? It is another knock to their self-esteem, another chance of a trophy gone and another missed opportunity to earn some extra income. But that does not alter the fact that success for Liverpool is all about claiming one of those places in the top four of the Premier League, and their seat at Europe’s top table for next season.

Liverpool have 18 remaining Premier League games to make up three places in the table and five points. Fact, as Rafa Benitez might say. That is all that matters and under Benitez Liverpool have a good record of putting together long winning runs. Just look at last season, when from the start of March they won 10 of their remaining 11 league games and ended up finishing second.

You might think the passion and panache with which Liverpool finished last season would earn Benitez enough credit to survive an FA Cup giant-killing.

Unless and until it becomes clear another run-in of the same sort is absolutely beyond them — and even if their injury-ravaged team fall flat against Stoke on Saturday — Liverpool should consider whether changing coach might be a very, very expensive mistake.

PHOTO: Liverpool’s Alberto Aquilani holds his face during their FA Cup defeat by Reading, Jan. 13, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble

8 comments

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I totally disagree.

The relationship between coach and players isn’t that great. You just have to look at the body language of Torres and in particular Gerrard to see that – something is clearly not right. Gerrard could always be relied on to drag liverpool out of the mire the two finals benitez has won (West Ham in the FA Cup and Milan in the Champions League) is an example of that. Instead Gerrard against reading looked like a player resigned to defeat against lower league oposition also struggling for league form at home. Benitez tends to mess his players around too much. You have the Robbie Keane scenario, Summer 2008 Alonso was almost pawned to every large club in europe as Benitez tried to sell him. Alonso repaid that faith by playing out of his skin last season and promoptly leaving for Madrid. Babel is another big money Benitez signing that is low on confidence and apparently wasn’t even contacted when the bad weather meant training was cancelled.

Liverpool are in serious problems they have no money to finance a new stadium, exit in the champions league is going to cost them and if they fail to qualify next year they will be in dire financial crisis.

You may say sacking benitez isn’t the answer but to me they don’t look like a club who can finish fourth over the much improved spurs, villa and city so they must sack him!

Posted by timhawkins | Report as abusive

liverpool have been through this again, yep u can say that again. they ve been up and down but poor in comparision to where they wanna be over teh past 16 years. sacking beni now is a mistake should wait till the end of the season and analyse then.

Posted by moshahid | Report as abusive

As far as liverpool are concern the league is over.Players are queing up for maintenance and repairs now.So that they can be ready to play in the world cup. Rafael knows that very well. It is an indirect free kick to tell Rafael that he has got no hope for them.

Posted by shanjay10 | Report as abusive

i guess the Liverpool football club is careless for they are willing to sell the team and the club…
They are going through the same phase of Manchester City before bing purchased by investors. Liverpool is willing to succeed in attracting cash money through looking as a collapsing team.
http://www.sawfer.com

Posted by Sawfer | Report as abusive

they wana sell the team …. no more expenses, no more decision making ! morinio wants to get rid of it !

Posted by Sawfer | Report as abusive

Many studies show that after clubs sack their managers their results improve. But, as FT’s Simon Kuper explains in an article on City’s manager Roberto Mancini, usually a club sacks its manager when it is reaching a low point in the winning cycle — a point from which you can only get better. “The new manager – Kuper says – rarely causes the pendulum to swing. He’s just the beneficiary of the swing”.
Kuper also says, (see a recent post by Mark Meadows in this blog), that a manager’s success has no correlation with his playing record. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b39ff71a-023f- 11df-8b56-00144feabdc0.html

Posted by AntoCiancio | Report as abusive

This is about injuries and a battered budget for Liverpool. The injuries are unavoidable, and the budget will cause a fire sale at Anfield. Goodbye Torres, Gerrard, maybe even Reina. They simply can’t afford to pay them all and still pay down their debt. Liverpool needs a new stadium and new owners more than it needs a new coach. Wow, Instanbul seems like a lifetime ago!
http://bit.ly/89vsFl

Posted by Starting_Eleven | Report as abusive

Istanbul seems like forever ago! Not going to happen. Bye bye Rafa.

Posted by Gingerly | Report as abusive