Liverpool: Darkness on the Anfield horizon
A storm is gathering at Liverpool Football Club. Again. Now, first and foremost, I am a Liverpool fan and I am deeply concerned at what the next six months may hold. This does not mean that I am about to go on an emotional “bring back Rafa” rant, or indeed any rant. I am simply going to tell it like it is.
Over the past week, the world has been kindly kept informed on events surrounding Liverpool’s managerial vacancy by Mr Dave Whelan, who when he’s not publicly addressing us all on matters that Liverpool would prefer to keep confidential, is the chairman of Wigan Athletic. As we know, Whelan’s main man, Roberto Martinez, has been in Miami holding talks with the Reds about becoming their new manager. Pictures of the Spaniard strolling alongside Liverpool’s principal owner John Henry, appear to suggest that these talks have gone fairly smoothly, with some reports suggesting Martinez has been “offered the job”, as confirmed by Whelan. The vibes emanating from Anfield deny this news.
Significantly, the fact that Martinez will meet the Liverpool hierarchy again on Tuesday suggests there may have been a hitch, as does that or does it not seem like a strangely long time in which to make a decision that really, if all has gone well, should be made in a heartbeat?
Whelan, just to liven up his media-spinning fun that little bit more, has brought the deadline by which he wants a decision from Martinez, forward from the 5th June, to Thursday.
Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding the whole situation, it seems that Martinez will eventually be confirmed as Liverpool’s new manager sooner or later. You just know when you’ve got that instinctive feeling, something that all football fans have. That is my feeling towards Martinez and the Liverpool job, and sadly, it does not fill me with hope.
Let me explain why. Firstly, it has become clear to me that despite the embarrassment, anger and damn-near chaos, sparked by Roy Hodgson’s turbulent stint at the Liverpool helm, his reign was necessary. Liverpool were on the edge of a financial abyss, and needed someone who would be able to oversee a period of, there’s no other way of putting it, asset-stripping. Neither Rafael Benitez who left the job nor Kenny Dalglish who wanted it at the time, could’ve been in charge during a situation that was very nearly catastrophically worse than it eventually turned out to be. Hell, the worst it got was when Fernando Torres left, and that wasn’t all that bad in the end.
Let it be clear that were it not for the intervention of the board, who needed to protect Liverpool’s value, Torres would have almost certainly gone in the summer of 2010 and more than likely Pepe Reina would’ve as well. It cannot be denied that Steven Gerrard may also have been sold later down the line had FSG not won their court battle with Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Add to that the fact that Liverpool would’ve been in administration, on the end of a 10-point deduction, and you can see why the craziness off the pitch meant that Liverpool’s performances under Hodgson were so miserable. He was inevitably going to get the boot once financial stability was secure, and unable to resist the will of the fans, FSG had to appoint Dalglish as his successor. This was something that they never really wanted to do, hence the host of bright young things that have recently been linked with Liverpool. Names such as Fabio Capello are purely being used to fill column inches, whilst Louis Van Gaal is under consideration for the Director of Football role, not the manager’s job.
This now brings me to my point surrounding the potential outcomes should Martinez get the job and things start to go wrong. It is a similar situation to that of when Hodgson was appointed in that the majority of fans are against what is happening. Only this time, there is no asset-stripping, no court battle and there is it would seem, money to spend. This means that the already frazzled patience of Liverpool fans will spiral oh so rapidly if the team start the new season badly.
It is not unrealistic to say that there will be anarchy should Liverpool find themselves in mid-table at Christmas. FSG will become the new Hicks and Gillett, but there will be no financial pressure on the owners to sell the club, meaning no matter how much the fans show their displeasure, FSG will remain in control. The honeymoon is over.
Maybe I’m being harsh on Martinez. Admittedly, Wigan play some good football under his leadership, and yes, they won at Anfield last season. But has he won anything of note? Can he handle big names? Is he ready?
They are just some of the questions that his potential appointment poses, and all would appear to be met with a complete lack of conviction. Liverpool cannot afford someone who needs a season or two finishing 7th or 8th or worse, bedding themselves in. FSG claim that they remain committed to a “project”, but Liverpool fans can’t be doing with this long term tittle tattle. The club requires someone who will sort the men from the boys, cut the nonsense and spend wisely. Is Martinez the man? I don’t think so. Is Benitez? Maybe, but I’m not clamouring for his return. All I’m saying is that this decision, these next few days, could have a huge impact on Liverpool’s future.