In the summer of 2004, Rafa Benitez was given the task to rebuild Liverpool into a top European side once again. The idea was that Liverpool, with it’s history and pedigree, should be winning the Premiership and dominating the Champions League – something they spectacularly failed to do for quite a while.
Fast forward to January 2007 – Liverpool have spent 77.8 mil pounds on buying players since July 2004, and while they have a Champions League and FA Cup title to show for it, the club has not made any serious progress in the Premiership. Compared to the rest of the Premiership Liverpool are still a top club, but faced with ever-improving Chelsea and Manchester United sides, Liverpool are a club perpetually stuck in transition.
Being an outsider, I can’t say for certain if Rafa’s on the money with his criticism of the Liverpool board. Maybe some of you Liverpool fans can help me out.
1) How bad / good is Pool’s youth policy compared to Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea?
2) Is the board really too slow in acting on acquiring talent?
What I do know is it’s never one side that’s totally at fault, so no matter what the board has done right or wrong, Rafa Benitez must shoulder the blame as well.
It is convenient to think that with Chelsea’s billions and Manchester United’s quality and Arsenal’s fantastic youth policy, Liverpool may come off as 4th-best. But for a club that aspires to be to best in England, that’s not good enough.
Trouble is, for the last 2.5 years people thought Rafa would be the ‘x’ factor – but a manager is only as good as his game plan, and when you see a club in perpetual transition since Rafa’s takeover, you do start to worry.
I’ve talked before about how Liverpool don’t play often enough as a unit and that they lack the aggression that their rivals show – a lot of this is down to the manager. Tactical brilliance worked in La Liga, it’s not enough in the Premiership.
Still, it would be unfair to judge Rafa this early, despite the money spent so far. With the takeover nearly complete, and with Liverpool still on course to qualify for the Champions League next season, fans can rest assured that next season, Rafa and Liverpool will make a concerted effort to challenge for cups and league.
Problem is, this requires Rafa and the squad to adapt – are they up for it?