I was going to start doing a review of the World Cup groups now all the final squads have been announced however the recent news coming out of Anfield was just to big to ignore
It is widely expected in the next 48 hours for the official announcement of Liverpool parting company with manager Rafa Benitez more than likely by 'mutual consent' marking the end of an era at Anfield. Rafa has clearly been a corner stone for Liverpool and even went as far as ousting Rick Parry and taking control of nearly all aspects of the club, except the one that matters - funds. It appears this split has come about because Rafa Benitez has told the Liverpool owners that he will need much more than the £15m they are offering him this summer to compete with Man City & Tottenham for 4th place, but due to the huge amount of debt on the club (reported to be around £350m) and the lack of champions league football they can't afford to give him any more, and here the problems lie.
Football fans seem to be divided in the Rafa discussion - including Liverpool fans. Think what you want about Rafa there is no denying that he is a clever guy and he knows that £15m won't cover the shortfall of players now let alone once the clubs above them have finished spending, with this sort of money there is a massive risk of the gap between Liverpool and teams above them opening to a much bigger cup and leaving Liverpool in huge difficulties - a lot of the money that has been borrowed is based on future earnings involving champions league games & prize money. If the papers are to be believed then Steven Gerrard has already decided enough is enough and he's getting ready to move to Real Madrid and whilst this will generate much needed funds, if it happens and I'm not as sure as the press it will, however one of Rafa's concerns will be he won't be able to use all of the funds as some will have to go to servicing the interest on the loans. Rafa knows that his reputation in Europe is still intact (2 CL finals including one win and another semi final over 5 years looks impressive)and could very well have decided he'd rather not risk his reputation on the sinking ship that appears to be Liverpool when he could leave now and pick his next job in a better situation - Inter Milan are looking for a new manager and he has been strongly linked to them now Capello is seemingly out the running.
The bigger problem now facing Liverpool and their fans is who will not only be prepared to take the job on but be able to move them forward on this budget? Roy Hodgson has been mentioned several times but i don't know if he'd want to take the job on, at Fulham he has overachieved massively against very basic and realistic targets were as at Liverpool he will certainly be faced with a much tougher chance and may not want to give up his 'comfort zone' for a club with huge debts and much harder targets. Of course Kenny Dalglish is already at the club working with the academy and could be considered an option, cheaper and in house, an Anfield icon both as player and manager so he would probably get more leeway from the fans but would he want to get back in to management? He said not so long ago that he doesn't really have an interest in returning to management but could he resit the call of a club so close to his heart? When sky sports news broke the story some Liverpool fans where mailing in saying it was a shame this didn't happen earlier so they could try and get Jose Mourinho - this would never happen, firstly because Mourinho had one eye on the Real job since last summer and secondly Mourinho wouldn't want to work under that kind of restrictive budget. Other than those 2 there isn't really a name that stands out, Guus Hiddink would be a good choice but he doesn't want to leave Turkey so soon after joining them and seems happier in international football. Maybe Jurgen Klinsmann could be a candidate but he might not be prepared to leave his base in California and his spell at Bayern Munich was nothing short of a disaster, Martin O'Neill seems to be an early favourite but i don't think he would want to leave a club where he has a good relationship with the owner who has funds to a club in serious financial difficulties and who's owners could change soon
Which leads to the main issue with Liverpool at the moment, Tom Hicks & George Gillette. They are basically the Laurel & Hardy of football owners, a laughing stock to everyone looking at them, it was only a few days ago Hicks claimed there would be 'significant funds' made available to Rafa - clearly this isn't the case or he needs a reality check because £15m isn't significant in the premiership for a team pushing for 4th. Every time these guys open their mouths it seems to make them more and more a laughing stock and its a real shame that a club with the history of Liverpool have been allowed to end up in this state, 2 owners wanting an unrealistic amount for the club and not even clearing the debts before selling - only a Liverpool fan with the deepest of pockets could afford to pay £800m for the club, £350m to clear the debts then make money available to spend with out at least having the income of champions league football to cover at least some of it. It's hard to see how this problem can be fixed in the short term, in the long term someone will step in but it will be a while before the Americans swallow their pride and lower the asking price.
Its certainly going to be an interesting few days around Anfield and I'm sure more stories will leak over the next few days revealing more about this split (when i started writing the blog it was just rumours now its confirmed, Rafa has gone for around £6m, much less than the £16m expected) and I'm sure its not just because of the bad season last season and I'm also sure Gerrard doesn't need this on his mind during the world cup and its another distraction in the Spain camp obviously affecting Torres along with the ongoing Cesc/Barca fiasco.
As usual i can be reached at Buster_5265@hotmail.com, twitter as Buster_5265 or comments below, thanks for taking the time to read, over the next few days i plan on reviewing all the world cup teams & groups before the tournament starts in 9 days!!