Anfield boss looks to avert blame and then finds himself looking in the mirror once again.
Rafael Benitez does not expect his Liverpool transfer kitty to be adversely affected if his club does not qualify for the Champions League this season – only because he has precious few funds to play with in the first place.
Benitez was advised at the start of the season that he could do little more than spend the money he generated, hence the purchases of Alberto Aquilani and Glen Johnson only once outgoing deals for Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa had been settled.
The manager has also spent a relatively small amount bringing Maxi Rodriguez and Sotirios Kyrgiakos to Merseyside yet he is anything but the last of the big spenders.
Not finishing fourth is currently unthinkable yet if they do not make it, he expects no reduction in his war chest only because he is determined not to miss what he never had.
“They [the owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks] told me before that it didn’t make a big difference [if we don’t qualify]. Every year that we have qualified for the Champions League it hasn’t made a big difference so if we don’t qualify this time I don’t expect a big difference.”
A failure to qualify for the Champions League would be a stark wake-up call to the fact that the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Aston Villa are now all genuine contenders. The hegemony of the old Big Four looks to be over – with Liverpool the principal victims – yet Benitez has not given up faith that a strong end of season can restore their position among the elite.
“It could go to the very end,” he said. “I don’t know which teams will be there. Hopefully it will be Liverpool and maybe another one but now there are four and maybe five teams involved so it is important to remain calm.”
He also confirmed that Albert Riera’s time at Anfield is almost up after he publicly criticised the Liverpool manager last week. Benitez said Riera could be sent out on loan. (Independent)
You have to love Rafa Benitez when he is in one of his sarcastic moods don’t you. The Anfield boss likes to hammer a point home as if to somehow win some people over with his deadpan style and help disguise some of his self inflicted injuries. Like here for instance he is asked about potential transfer funds he may or may not be given and Rafa skillfully uses the opportunity to state how he never gets any real money so therefore this summer will be no different, which is in some ways accurate and in other ways misleading.
We would all like Liverpool to invest in the type of players who could really give us a chance of keeping up with Chelsea and Manchester United and hell even Arsenal, but that would cost around £75m in my view. We need a creative skillful wide man (maybe even two), another striking option and perhaps another centre back, hell why not add a Xabi Alonso type central midfielder into the bargain. To buy players of quality in those positions we are talking about a sizable outlay but like they say “you get what you pay for” and for a few years now we haven’t have that much to invest but that being said Rafa B has consistently made bad signings when he has been handed the cash. If you were to put all his signings onto a chart and place them in good and bad categories I think you would be a brave, and perhaps delusional, man if you had more on the good than on the bad in fact when I did just that I got a very uneven list I can tell you.
I would love us to sign David Silva for instance and many would say that is unrealistic but that is only because of the manner in which the club is run by those damn Americans. We are after all a ‘big’ club with a ‘rich’ history so why not try to buy the best? But then Rafa has to take his fair share of the blame.
Had he invested more wisely more often then perhaps we would need only 1 or 2 new additions rather than 4 or 5. We need wholesale changes to really make a difference, to really catch up with the runaway pack. Right now we are finding it hard to even keep up with the likes of Tottenham and the main reason they are doing so well is down to the way Harry Redknapp has brought in quality players en masse. The signings he has made since arriving at White Hart Lane have been fantastic and then you have Man City who have been given as much cash as they need and therefore even Mickey Mouse could do a decent job there.
Now I am not suggesting that we should have the kind of money the Eastlands outfit have but I would expect us to have at least the amount of cash that Spurs do. Obviously until we rid ourselves of Messrs Hicks and Gillett we won’t turn the corner but then the same could be said of Rafa Benitez.
Will he as Liverpool boss be able to persuade big names to join us if indeed he had the cash? If you were a good player would you join us at the moment? Any new signing in the summer would probably wonder if the boss who had bought him would be in the post for much longer and most players would not take that sort of risk only to find the newly appointed successor doesn’t really fancy him as an option.
This summer is a time for change, regardless of if we finish in the top four or not. Ideally I would love to see the Yanks walk but that may be a more lengthy battle, and one we really must keep trying to win.