As Liverpool fans celebrate the 25th of May an iconic date in Liverpool 's history (Rome 77 Istanbul 05) arguments are raging on the internet over the name of the next manager in the hot seat. Seven years ago Rafa Benitz led Liverpool back into the 'promised land' and unbelievably led an average team to European glory. In 2007 a better team lost to the same team AC Milan and Rafa started to attract whispers of criticism but as Rafa paced the streets of Athens after the final he knew he had to ask the new owners for money to strengthen the squad. Torres and Mascherano joined in the summer of 2007 but little did we know then that the money Hick & Gillett would borrow would become a lead weight around the club. Liverpool fans swayed by optimism of 2 Champions League Finals in 3 years and the falsehood that the Yanks had deep pockets began to believe that we could once again challenge for the Holy Grail the bread and butter of Liverpool FC - the league title! We improved in the league and in 2008/9 punching way above our weight and should have won it as I am convinced we were the best team that season. The natives were restless though and they turned on the new Messiah in growing numbers in 2009/10 even though Benitez was given a paltry net spend and had lost quality players like Alonso.
The whispers became louder and louder and many fans were openly coming out with their mantra - he's clueless and he's bought sh*te. They ignored all the reasoned argument about servicing the Americans debt, the fact that he had £14 million net to spend in the summer of 2009 even though Alonso had been sold for £30 million up front. He went to find quality at clubs that owed us money (Portsmouth owed us £10 mill for Crouch) and players who were quality but were cut price due to injury i.e. Aquilani. The inevitable happened and we slipped down the league and Rafa after one poor season lost his job. The fans had a wish list, Mourinho Hiddink et al, and we ended up with Hodgson with Danny Murphy telling everyone who would listen how good he was. Thanks Danny!
Non - football people like Christian Purslow who had sacked Rafa with the nod off influential people at the club was now the kingmaker and he was so pleased with himself that he allegedly referred to himself as 'the Fernando Torres (when he was unplayable) of the financial world.' Hodgson was a square peg in a round hole. Liverpool fans like messianic managers ever since the arrival of Bill Shankly in 1959. We sing managers names which is rare in football. Nobody dared to pen a song for Hodgson, he was met by apathy and a resigned shrug of the shoulders not hostility as some sections of the media make out. The crowd were patient until it looked like we were heading for relegation and at Blackburn away in January 2011 the hostility was loud and audible.
We ended up with Hodgson with Danny Murphy telling everyone who would listen how good he was. Thanks Danny!
Kenny Dalglish came to the rescue like a knight in shining armour and he took the squad on an impressive run which was in the second half of the season top four form. The owners were in a difficult position they wanted a young hungry manager to implement their vision but how could they part company with the legend that was Kenny Dalglish! Funds were made available and the club decided to buy British after their Spanish experiment. The style of football in the first part of the season was impressive but we couldn't turn the performances into results. We outplayed many teams at Anfield but just couldn't turn draws into wins. The cup runs should have allowed Kenny another year to fine tune things but after lifting the Carling Cup in February our league form collapsed and the owners took the decision to relieve the King of his duties. Kenny understands their is very little sentiment in football.
So where do we go from here. The fans choice is overwhelmingly Rafa to finish off what he started but I have been told Fenway Sports Group view him as a mixture of Castro and Pol Pot so that looks like a non- starter at this point in time. I would love Guardiola but would he really come to Anfield with a limited budget and no Champions League football. So I would throw the dice and go after a young enthusiastic manager who plays the game the right way and reminds me of a young Rafa. His name is Roberto Martinez. The last three years we have finished 7th, 6th 8th and its not 2007 anymore we aren't in for the top players so as Liverpool fans we need to have a reality check. We have fallen off our perch again. Rafa had us as the top rated team in Europe in UEFA rankings but fans demanded the league ignoring the harsh realities of modern day football ie wages/net spend/ income.
I would take a chance on Martinez surely with our underperforming squad he would improve on 8th playing a pattern/style of football that Anfield demands. Lads I know who have played under him and coached under him think he will be a top top manager one day but they are praying we don't get him - they are Evertonians! He's good with the media and he laid the foundation for the Swansea team everyone praises and where his win rate was around 50%. People argue that he has a worse record at Wigan than Steve Bruce but I argue thats because Bruce played direct football relied on physical strength getting the ball up as soon as possible whereas Martinez plays football on the deck in the hurly burly of the wrong end of the Premiership. He stuck to his principles and passed United, Arsenal, Newcastle, Chelsea and Liverpool off the park at the end of the season!
Detractors are also forgetting Dave Whelan sold their best players Valencia and N'Zogbia in 2010. Martinez has studied the Barca model and we have Borrell and Segura from Barca working with our young players and guess what- Martinez likes to nuture young talent. Obviously there are risks involved but taking risks is what football is all about. Remember Hodgson was supposedly a safe pair of hands!
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