A Fall From Grace: Liverpool FC

Liverpool's Season Crashes and Burns.

With the 09/10 season coming to a close, there have been great cinderella stories, in the form of Birmingham FC and their very efficient promotion season in the Premier League, to Fulham reaching the Europa League final, to England’s ‘Big Four’ finally being broken.

Many, before the season had begun, predicted that this would be the year that the so-called ‘Big Four’ would come unstuck. Most suspected Arsenal, who field so many young and inexperienced players compared to the rest of the ‘Big Four’ to be the ones to fall out of it at the hands of one of Aston Villa, Tottenham, Manchester City, or Everton.

Many pundits and journalists at the start of the season predicted a finish for Liverpool that would have been quite similar to their title-challenging run last season. That, however, was certainly not the case in the end. Liverpool’s rather shocking and unlikely season has them sitting in 7th place in the league, eight points away from their much sought after 4th place, which Rafa Benitez promised they would finish in.

Problems at Liverpool don’t stop there, though. In the boardroom, American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are under constant scrutiny for the way they have run the club. The fans have urged them to sell up, and find an owner who will be able to inject some much-needed capital into the club for spending on squad additions and a new stadium. Hicks and Gillett, though, have priced the club at around 500 million pounds. A club that will not qualify for the Champions League, has a growing debt situation, needs massive squad improvement and a new manager, and they think it’s worth 500 million pounds. If Hicks and Gillett cannot find an Abramovich-esque buyer for the club, they will probably have to look at selling a few of their prized assets, most notably Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, and Javier Mascherano. With the loss of even two of those three key players, Liverpool may be looking at a situation where the Champions League becomes a lot farther away than just 8 points.

Rafa Benitez, Liverpool’s oft-criticized manager, must surely be looking for the way out now. He is responsible for bringing the club players like Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso, but is also responsible for big-money busts, like Robbie Keane, Craig Bellamy, Jermaine Pennant, Albert Riera and Andrea Dossena. Should Rafa Benitez leave Liverpool FC this summer, many players who followed him to the club, or players that would otherwise be seeking Champions League football, would probably move on as well. Many of Liverpool’s squad have been at the club quite a short time, and could fit into many other Champions League teams in Europe, so seeing them move on would not be surprising. For Liverpool, though, it’s all bad news. Having to rebuild a squad that is expected to challenge for a top four spot, with a new manager and a limited budget, and without the income from the Champions League, could be a catastrophic task. Prices in the transfer market will be increasingly high after the World Cup, and trying to replace key players will certainly not be easy.

Now that we have touched on Liverpool’s key problem areas, it’s quite simple to see that their inability to qualify for the Champions League for next year puts them in a very bad place. Even worse, though, if you take a look at all the good happening at the teams surrounding Liverpool.

Tottenham have finished fourth. Redknapp has guided his squad to a Champions League qualification spot for next season, and the club, which has a solid youth system and a good core squad, will be favourites to retain the fourth spot come next season. Although they do not have the spending power of a team like Manchester City, they have adequate enough resources, plus the new income from the Champions League, to fund any transfer activity that may be necessary to add to an already strong core group of players. There isn’t too many reasons for Redknapp to have to chop and change much of his squad; a simple couple of additions in a few weaker areas in the team, or talented youth players to bring through the ranks, and Tottenham will be set to push for Champions League qualification again next year.

Manchester City, who made it an absolute priority to have Champions League status next season so that they could attract the biggest names in the game, have failed to make the mark. Because of their massive spending power, they will offer players they deem necessary massive salaries and pull them in anyway. While Manchester City and Liverpool are in the same boat in terms of not qualifying for the Champions League, one could make the point that Manchester City are on a positive curve. If they have a squad problem, they will throw some money at it. New stadium? Money. New manager? Money. A youth system that even Barcelona would be proud of? Money. The problem for Manchester City will be consistency and continuity, because constant chopping and changing will be detrimental to being able to maintain an identifiable and cohesive team unit. Other than that, they are in a much better place than Liverpool.

Because of Liverpool’s poor position and backroom troubles, and the strength of teams around Liverpool who will be constantly challenging for top four places, it could be a very long time before Liverpool FC reach that top four promised land again.

30 thoughts on “A Fall From Grace: Liverpool FC”

  1. So this team that;

    relies on 3 or 4 key players
    has nobody on the bench that can come on and make a difference
    a manager that makes questionable signings, tactics, and substitutions
    owners that do not talk to each other
    owners that have a very poor track record
    owners that have no understanding of running a football team

    Have managed to come in 2nd last year and 7th this year even though key players were injured the majority of the season…………….

    With results like that I can only imagine what proper owners, a logical manager, and a squad with some depth will produce.

      1. Jake, yeah what a typical yank name. You and your friends Chad and Brad can go watch some roid heads hit a ball and leave the real sports for us Europeans.

          1. I agree that Jake , Chad, Brad, Al and Bill should just stick to Baseball and leave the soccer alone. Enuf Said.

          2. Jake your insight is valued here, just because an englishman with an over inflated ego thinks he knows more about SOCCER than us yanks doesn’t mean anything; I bet that as a yank I’m more knowledgeable than you ever hoped to be. look at us we won a WC by scoring a goal that didnt happen, consider yourselves a soccer power even though you’ve never accomplished anything else(uruguay is more of a power), never had a ballon ‘dor winner, and is watching your league and team slowly crumble as spain and italy will soon overtake you.

  2. I completely disagree actually.
    1. where are Liverpool supposed to find this money-tree owner who can afford to buy the club, pay off their debts, build a stadium and invest in the squad?
    2. what top-class manager would want to go to a club whose squad depth I’d dire, where there is very little to attract anymore top-class players, and where the expectations are obviously unreasonably high?

    7th might be the best we see from Liverpool for a long time, like the article says, because of liverpools big problems and the newfound strengths of the teams challenging Liverpool for european places.

  3. I would just like to point and laugh a bit at Liverpool for that listless performance against Chelsea this past weekend. Sure I might be sour if it ends up that Wigan (most likely) can’t take 2 points off of Chelsea at the weekend but at the very least I can rest knowing that our squad didn’t pretty much flush our integrity down the crapper to make sure that our closest rivals didn’t win their 4th on the trot and 19th overall.

    I know I’m rehashing old news but Stevie G…that pass…seriously?

    Good riddance and I hope it’s a long while before they find their way anywhere near the top 4.

    Lol, “Gary Neville or Chelsea.”

    1. Don’t worry, when Roo follows his idol Christiano to La Liga you will be all set with your team of geriatrics.

      But he would never do that would he? Man United for live [not like blue for life]

  4. A good summary of the titanic mess LFC currently finds themselves in. My only addition would be the 200-million Pound gorilla in the room in the form of Liverpool’s debt, which wasn’t really touched on in the article. Significant interest payments to service the debt + lack of CL money coming in = further stagnation in the squad.

    The only thing I’ll take issue with is Dylan’s assertion that Tottenham will be favourites to retain the 4th CL spot next year. I think they’ll find themselves distracted with the romance and novelty of the CL, end up losing focus in the league, and their small-ish squad will struggle to nab 4th spot again. It’s a pattern we’ve seen over and over in UEFA Cup and CL teams alike, especially those not used to fighting on a European front.

    At least Spurs have stopped the Man City financial juggernaut for one more year. Sure City will buy another dozen players (likely all forwards) again this summer, but without the CL they’ll have no chance of tempting the top, top talent they need to move things to the next level, ie Torres, et al. The league is strong, as strong as at any time in the last 10-15 years, and only those clubs on solid footing are going to survive and thrive. ‘Pool have got some way to go before they can make such an assertion…

  5. On October 25, 2008 Spurs were dead last in the Prem, on two points.

    Today they’re in the Champions League.

    I’m not burying my head in the sand w/r/t Liverpool’s issues, but enough already of “the sky is falling.”

    Everything turns on this summer. If new ownership arrives, good management is put into place, and they keep their stars, they could bounce back quickly. If not, they could be Leeds II: Electric Boogaloo.

    We’ll have a much better idea of the direction they’re heading in on 8/15.

    1. I agree, man. While the things Dylan points out in the article are troubling, and not really news to anyone who follows the club, a lot can change in a short amount of time. The biggest piece is ownership, if H&G are still there at the end of summer LFC is in real trouble, at least for next year.

      LFC will not go gentle into that good night.

    2. Finally! A voice of reason! I agree. I’m a ‘pool fan, and I understand we have massive issues. But honestly, every club falls on hard times now and again as you said. They may get out of this funk, or they might not. I’ll be the first to admit there’s a chance of the latter. But must we give up all hope?

      Seriously, I’m sick of all this negativity. The way everyone seems to see it, we Liverpool fans might as well resign ourselves to relegation next season. What the hell? So we finished out of the Champions League. It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. Really, this is the wake-up call the club needed to start reinventing itself. With some new owners, new players, and a few other adjustments, we’d be fine.

      Call me a relentless optimist if you wish. But as I said before, I’m not ready to give up all hope.

  6. Your article seems to predict a new top 4 w/ Tottenham in the 4th spot. I am flattered. However, I think your inclusion of Spurs and City in the discussion really identifies a “top 6.” But, with such increased competitiveness at the top, the next three teams in the pecking order (Villa, Everton, and yes, Liverpool ) are going to be closer to that 4th spot than you think.
    The competition amongst this top 8/9? in the coming season will be closer than any we’ve seen in recent years. Chelsea, I begrudgingly admit, are the most likely team to dominate the league and put themselves a step beyond. Man U have a lot of work to do, as do Arsenal defensively. Whereas this season saw a close race for fourth I believe the overall improvement of the top 8/9 will see the 3rd league position equally as close in competition from the beginning of the season; not right at the end as Spurs currently have a chance to sneak (coys!).
    Liverpool will not thrive in the coming season. BUT, If Liverpool simply stabilize, they’ll be in the mix for 3rd/4th and can hope to regain their status in the next 2-3 years. That’s quite optimistic considering their situation, but possible, I think.
    I disagree that Spurs, as one commenter stated, will be overcome by the romanticism of Europe. That’s pure speculation disregarding the performance of a whole season and the guarantee of their improvement over the summer. The nucleus of the team remains intact and will be bolstered accordingly by Redknapp. Whether or not they succeed in Europe you can expect an improved squad in the league, so Spurs competitors have more to fear than we do. 50mill doesn’t taste so bad either.

  7. Liverpool’s fall from grace? WHAT? The club fell off its “graceful perch” 19 years ago. Old news fella.

  8. A small club with a small mentality, their days of even competing for the title is over, thanks to the generous efforts of their wonderful owners and borderline-retarded manager.

    The most this pathetic excuse for a club can shoot for now is maybe the odd Carling Cup win. Kinda sad, with their modest history, but then again Preston North End was once a big club too.

  9. Liverpool is in trouble, that is for sure. New owners are only a minor part of the solution. Despite Rafa’s protestations to the contrary, he has had plenty of money in the transfer markets over his tenure and there are clubs finishing higher than Liverpool who have had to make do with much less. But now that we’re likely even out of the Europa Cup next year too, do we really think Torres and other top talent at Liverpool are going to stay around? We’ll see, but I predict an exodus. Our only hope long term is to get a manager with both a better and more consistant eye for talent who can deal with a lower budget and still get decent players, and who can actually get good play out of the players we do have. I’ll admit though, not sure who that replacement for Rafa is going to be…

  10. We have touched on a lot of the negatives facing Liverpool but I still think there are some positives that could work in Liverpool’s favor.
    First of all Liverpool have a massive squad full of young players who will frankly never see significant time in a Liverpool shirt. With all the crisis and trauma Liverpool have still been active buying up talented young players to fill their youth academy so selling the dead weight to raise so cash shouldn’t be a problem
    Secondly Liverpool are about to start their high profile shirt sponsorship deal which I believe is estimated to be worth around 80 million pounds.
    Third Liverpool are still a huge international brand with a global following, with the right kind of marketing scheme and management the Liverpool brand can still be fully exploited to raise revenues.

    I think it is foolish to consider Liverpool done and dusted but certainly they have their backs against the wall. Liverpool lacked emotion and spirit all season and frankly they need a new manager to reinspire the squad and bring in new players.

  11. Disclaimer: Neither a ‘Pool lover nor hater. Same goes for Rafa.

    2nd last year, 7th this year. The world has come to an end? Was Rafa an idiot last year, too? Were the owners? (ummm, don’t answer that one).

    I think a healthy Torres makes all the difference. Maybe that’s not possible over the course of a full season, so yes, Liverpool have some issues to address. They can do that. I believe they will be right back in the mix next year, regardless of who the manager is.

    So, get rid of Rafa? OK. Now what? Who, exactly, is available and desirable?
    I don’t have the answer. Interested in the possibilities and why they would be better. Let’s see….Phil’s available……

    My only observation about Rafa is that I do not think he did Gerrard any favors this year. It seemed to me Stevie was being asked to be about five different people depending on the match. I have never seen that kind of assignment positively effect any athlete’s performance.

    In any event we can chew on this one for the entire off-season, after which The Gaffer will re-brand the site “Liverpooltalk.com”. 😉

  12. A very unlucky year for Liverpool.. i had a bad feeling the moment i saw Carra knocking out Skrtel in the first game of the season … like somethign was lost in translation… something else that Rafa is missing … but he’s still one of the best managers around…

  13. Rafa not getting a huge chunk of the blame really mystifies me.

    He has done a terrible job getting his players in positions to win. How many times have you seen Liverpool the last few seasons play a game and you wonder what in the hell they were doing on the pitch? Rafa seems to do things for no reason w/ no purpose.

    He has done an atrocious job transfer-wise and he points to his few successes as if that means anything…you don’t get a prize for hitting 25% in the transfer market. He has HAD THE CASH to make a dent in the standings

    He is a cry-baby as well that refuses to ever look in the mirror and accept his mistakes to FIX THEM

  14. as a spurs fan it feels great to get the CL spot, but it makes a little sad that liverpool could potentially end up like leeds(potentially!!, not saying it will) back 4 weeks ago when it was still wide open for 4th I said if spurs dont make it, I want pool, at least they hace some class compared to mercenary city

  15. Love it when those English bigots start insulting us yanks because someone has a different opinion on the situation at Anfield. Apparently if you don’t argee with them, you’re wrong.

    With such small minded fans at Liverpool, it’s no wonder they support Rafa. He could tell them the sky is green and they’ll all believe him. Blind loyalty. I always wondered how a dictatorship begins and now I know. Regardless of what Rafa does, they’ll buy into every excuse to make sure none of it was his fault.

      1. Cuba Rebel b4 u start thinkin u kno summin about football, not soccer as you call it, actually look stuff up. No ballon dor winner, michael owen won it in 2001 u spaz…england are dissapointing but we are still a major power in football as the premier league boasts an array of the most talented footballers in the business along with la liga and serie a. Don’t think u kno shit cus ur american, i’m half american but am not a prick like u, so shut the fuck up and sit down

  16. It’s one thing for liverpool to finish 7th but what is most disturbing is their style of play. They play absolute rubbish football and that’s because they have a manager that sends out his team to make sure they don’t lose, hence the most draws of any top half team in the PL since Rafa Benitez has been at Anfield. Liverpool are the only club that after scoring at home become defensive trying to protect their lead and look like the away team. Shambolic. According to former players, like Arbeloa, Rafa controls everything a player does during a game and does not allow his players any freedom. In other words Rafa does not allow any creativity from his players. Change the manager and things will improve. Maybe not win the Pl but at least they will be more entertaining, like Liverpool teams of the past that won titles.

  17. Everyone wants to blame the owners, but this has been a 20+ year problem, and it has everything to do with mentality. Liverpool FC should look at a calendar – it’s 2010, not 1978.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *