Just how bad ARE Liverpool – and how low can they go?

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They’re spending money and they still can’t do squad in the league. Nathaniel takes a look at just how bad the reds can be.

Poor, poor Scousers. Their club haven’t tasted success in the league since most of them were in nappies.

The only victories they have been able to celebrate this calendar year were against Havant & Waterlooville and Luton Town (and it took two attempts to beat the latter). Their front office is controlled by a pair of tight-fisted Yank owners with no understanding or appreciation of the sport and who appear intent on running the team into the ground before selling it on to the highest bidder.

Their famous coach is sure to be sacked by the Sceptic Tanks if he doesn’t quit of his own volition first. Their European campaign is effectively on life support, with only a miracle capable of saving it from an ugly death at the hands of their next opponents Inter Milan, a team widely viewed as Europe’s very best at the moment.

Fourth place in the Prem was once thought of as the lowest this team could possibly go. Now? Senor Benitez claimed (optimistically, one presumes) that experience would carry the Reds into fourth by season’s end. But that was before the defeat at West Ham. While it is true that Manchester United also lost at Upton Park this season, and that Alan Curbishley’s team are not bad (compared to Havant & Waterlooville, at least), this is undoubtedly a new low for the boys from Anfield Road. Unless you also count the Yank owners messing up the new stadium plans.

Surely there is a silver lining in the dark grey clouds that shroud Merseyside? It’s darkest right before dawn, innit? Stevie Gerrard and the boys are certain to use the relatively easy stretch of upcoming games to launch a heroic comeback, the likes of which hasn’t been since since Istanbul, circa May 2005. After all, this team plays best with their backs to the wall, when everybody has counted them out and their chances appear dashed for good.

Wishful thinking, all of it. The issues facing this organisation are not of the short-term variety. The cowboys running the front office have one thing on their mind; leveraging assets, the process by which private equity managers exploit the value of everything under the club’s purview in exchange for massive debt loads to be paid off with future revenues from a yet-to-be determined source.

This means selling players (like Momo Sissoko) who have high tangible values and riding others into the ground if they have no resale value but are even moderately efficient at doing their jobs. It does not involve substantial new investments to improve infrastructure (an ageing back line, for example) unless these improve the company’s “brand” (a new stadium).

Obviously Rafa cannot help this team much now, if he even still wants to. No manager could at this point. The club has a few exciting young players (well, two, one doesn’t even belong to them) but its central cogs (Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher) are creaky and tired, with mostly mediocre players filling in the rest of the spots in the starting 11.

This is a recipe for disaster and Liverpool’s descent appears to only be starting. Where it will stop? Nobody knows.

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