February 2007, the dawning of a great new era in Liverpool’s history as Tom Hicks and George Gillett bought the club from the Moore’s family. Promising massive investment and the funds for the construction for the new stadium that Liverpool needed, it seemed as if Liverpool were finally about to catch up with Manchester United financially under the stewardship of Kop Football Holdings.
Now, almost two and half years down the line, after their most successful Premiership season in 8 years, you would think that the owners would allow Benitez the money he needs to increase the strength of the side to allow them to push on and keep competing with United and Chelsea. Unfortunately, the accounts that were released last week and the missing out of Gareth Barry, last summers top target, will not be filling Liverpool fans with hope.
Added to that rumours continue that Real Madrid continue to circle above Xabi Alonso to add the defensive screen to their newly acquired attacking foils and Javier Mascherano’s wife is apparently pining for a return to a Spanish speaking nation with Barcelona more than happy to accommodate them in Catalonia. Liverpool issued a statement yesterday advising that neither player was for sale nor had they received any offers for the duo.
To some fans that means they’re both going to be sold, but with us unsure of the financial situation at Liverpool, it would be unfair to comment on pure speculation. By all accounts, they’re in the driving seat for Glen Johnson’s move from Portsmouth, but the price being bandied about is touching £18 million. Portsmouth have given Johnson their blessing that he can move if a side in the Champions League come in for him and United and Arsenal don’t need another right back. I doubt he’ll want to return to Chelsea for a second stint.
Of course if Liverpool do sign Johnson, which would by all accounts use the transfer budget unless it was bolstered by signings and releasing players that simply haven’t made the grade, such as Jermaine Pennant or Ryan Babel. Selling established first team players does not come in to Benitez’s thinking and for them to challenge United and Chelsea they have to keep hold of their best players and add more quality to the full back positions.
Whilst I have been critical of Benitez in the past, you have to feel sorry for him. He’s working for a pair of guys who haven’t held a promise they made back in February 2007 and he’s seen off two potential replacements and a Chief Executive to be able to sign a new contract that runs until 2014. He now just needs Gillett and Hicks to finally deliver the £200 million player investment they promised him when they took over. They know that Benitez has the support of 99.9% of Liverpool fans and they’d risk everything if they undercut the manager by selling first team regulars.
The big test for Benitez for the 2009-2010 season is to build on what last years excellent season offered Liverpool fans and push for a consistent title challenge throughout the year. For them to continue and progress, the manager has to receive the financial backing to progress. He knows that United now have a war chest of £100 million and it’s likely that Chelsea will have even more to spend and that’s without taking into consideration Manchester City or Arsenal’s forays in to the market over the summer.
Without that backing, Liverpool could go backwards and Benitez doesn’t deserve that!