As Liverpool plan the next chapter of their illustrious history it is important that they do not get blinded by their own greatness in their search for a new manager. Liverpool do not need another clever tactician like Rafael Benítez, instead they simply need someone who can do the basics right by consistently signing players that fit in with the Anfield culture and getting rid of those who don’t.
Liverpool fans may, quite rightly, blame Tom Hicks and George Gillett for the precarious position in which their club finds itself, but Benítez cannot leave Anfield without taking some of the blame. In the upper echelons of football every manager ends up being judged on his success in the transfer market and, despite his obvious success in winning the Champions League in 2005, this is what has let Benítez down and what has contributed in part to Liverpool finding themselves in such a difficult position on the field as well as off it.
What is inexcusable regarding Benitez’s reign is that, despite all the money he spent during his six years in charge, he never found a plan B to the brilliance of Steven Gerrard and, later on, Fernando Torres. The former Valencia boss tried with the likes of Harry Kewell, Craig Bellamy, Robbie Fowler, Peter Crouch, David Ngog and Luis Garcia along with many others- but ultimately never got it right. The nail in the coffin came this season when Benítez paid the best part of £40million for full back Glen Johnson and holding midfielder Alberto Aquilani. In hindsight, how much better could Liverpool have done this year had that money been spent on one or two experienced attacking players to support and supplement the dynamism of Gerrard and Torres?
Sure enough they both had poor seasons and now, due largely to Benitez’s misjudgments, Liverpool find themselves deep in debt with no Champions League revenue to look forward to, with few attractive assets that they can afford to sell and the prospect of falling adrift of Manchester United and Chelsea ever looming.
So where do Liverpool go from here? Can they be saved? Or will it soon be an achievement for them just to reach the Europa League?
What has to be remembered is that just over a year ago Liverpool finished second in the Premiership, and if Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t of shown the form akin to George Best at his peak that season, then they probably would have won it. Therefore all is not lost. On top of this they are the most decorated club in the history of English football and attracting a top manager to Anfield shouldn’t be difficult, despite all of the off field problems they have.
But what Kenny Dalglish and acting Chairman Martin Broughton simply must do is find a manager who has a history of buying and selling players to good effect. This is not a time for fancy tactics but instead, in the words of Benítez himself, it is the time to state the facts and face up to them. Liverpool are in a terrible financial state and need an experienced manager who can judge a player’s potential effectively, and at the same time is ruthless enough to sell any players that simply aren’t good enough for Liverpool football club in order to raise some much needed cash.
As someone who has a balanced experience in management Roy Hodgson is the obvious choice. The current Fulham boss has had success at big clubs such as Inter Milan and has also proved his worth at acquiring a strong team on a shoestring budget. Hodgson’s proven ability to purchase the unknown likes of Brede Hangeland for little money and turn them into top class players is just what Liverpool needs at this time.
Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail last week stated that this managerial appointment will be more important for Liverpool than the hiring of Bill Shankly in 1959 (who was charged with the task of taking Liverpool out the old second division back into Europe and duly succeeded creating a dynasty in the process). I tend to agree with Samuel. For if you examine the circumstances surrounding the forthcoming decision Liverpool have absolutely no room for error. This season saw Chelsea strengthen on the back of Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment, it saw Manchester United consolidate despite the loss of Ronaldo, it provided the stage for Spurs to acquire a fine attacking squad of players and it also witnessed the rise and rise of Manchester City through some serious financial backing.
Combine all this with the fact that the world’s finances are still in a state of turmoil and that the club is in mega debt without a buyer, and it becomes strikingly apparent that if Liverpool fail to get the right man this time around then they may well be forced to walk alone.
Written By Kieran Lovelock