If it feels like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have. For Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and the current ownership, the news that the two are at odds once again isn’t surprising; what could be the most shocking thing of all is that unlike the last time around, Hicks AND Gillett look to be in the same corner on Rafa’s contract negotiations. Unlike Benitez, they feel contract talk should be kept under lock and key. Too bad for them Benitez doesn’t feel the same way. So what does this mean? It means Liverpool could be in for the same bumpy ride that derailed last season’s early success.
Rafael Benítez has irked Liverpool’s American owners yet again by making public their pledge to discuss a new contract. Although the ailing regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr appears to be in its final throes, weakened initially by internal conflicts and far more critically by the global credit crunch, the tycoons have again found common ground in disapproval of Benítez.
Having finally been given encouragement last week to believe that Hicks and Gillett would agree to discuss a new contract, Benítez, who has repeatedly been asked about his future in recent months, confirmed in an interview with the Liverpool Echo that “they gave me their word” and that he expected talks to start some time this week. The conciliatory message had come from Hicks, but he and Gillett were frustrated that it was broadcast to the media so quickly, increasing their feeling that they are being forced into a corner by Benítez. (The Times)
This is the last thing Liverpool want to deal with. Last season’s verbal battle between Benitez and Hicks led to one of the worst stretches of football Liverpool has had in a long time. The stretch include losses to Besiktas, Marseille, Barnsley, West Ham and Middlesbrough in a span of game that stretched from October 2007 to February of 2008.
Most Liverpool supporters cringe when they recall those matches. The team kept calling for calm at the club, and the only they got in return was more turmoil and heartache. For the sake of the club and the players, Benitez needs to understand that brining this issue out in the open could hurt his squad long-term.
Most would agree that Benitez deserves a new contract, but if Hicks and Gillett made it clear that the negotiations were supposed to be kept quiet, then Rafa needs to respect that decision.
In the end there really isn’t anything left to be said between owner and manager. The best thing for both parties is to get this deal finalised and then head back to their respective corners of the globe.
Was Benitez wrong to open his mouth to the Echo? Are you concerned for the club after seeing the what the media mess did to the play last season?