Official: LFC confirm Parry to leave

Liverpool Football Club have now announced officially that CEO Rick Parry is to leave.

Rick Parry to leave AnfieldThe official announcement was made on the club’s website just after 10am, and confirmed he will “leave Anfield at the end of the current season.”

It said that Parry would stay on until the end of the season “in order for a smooth transition to take place”.

There were comments from the two co-owners. Tom Hicks made no secret of his desire to see Parry leave when he spoke out last spring about a list of concerns. Today Hicks was quoted as saying: “Rick’s commitment to Liverpool Football Club is epitomised by his desire to ensure that this transitional period is managed efficiently and we are grateful to him for his help. He will always remain a friend of the football club.”

His main ally at the club in the last 18 months or so has been George Gillett. Gillett refused to vote with Hicks to force Parry to resign last spring, but for reasons unstated he is no longer standing in the way. He said: “I would like to thank Rick for his significant service to the Club and the assistance he has given us since we joined Liverpool. He has been integral to the club’s success over the past decade and leaves with our best wishes for the future.””

The man himself, who left a role as CEO of the Premier League to take up the post at the club he’s always supported, spoke with dignity: “I have had 12 very exciting years at Liverpool and am extremely proud of what has been achieved by the Club over that period,” said Parry. “The victory in Madrid was a wonderful reminder of the many high points we have experienced and adds to the moments that make Liverpool and its magnificent fans so special.”

He went on: “It has been a privilege to serve the Club and as a lifelong supporter I wish the owners, Rafa, the players and the wonderful staff all the very best for the future. I will be leaving at the end of the season knowing that the Club remains strong and with a set of supporters who deserve success in all that Liverpool does.”

Speculation that Ian Ayre would be promoted in place of Parry was also played down in the official announcement, which pointed that “the Board will initiate a search for a new Chief Executive and will update supporters and other stakeholders when appropriate”.

Announcement in full:

Continue reading Official: LFC confirm Parry to leave

Rick Parry to leave Anfield

Rick Parry is to leave Liverpool Football Club. An official announcement will be made later this morning.

Full details are still somewhat sketchy right now, but the Liverpool chief executive has agreed to leave his post.

Our understanding is that a new CEO is likely to be brought in, as opposed to the role being handed to Commercial Director Ian Ayre, but there will be time to make a new appointment in the role.

According to the Echo’s Tony Barratt this morning, Parry will leave by mutual consent, but not until the end of the season.

The Echo also report that Parry’s decision is in recognition of how unworkable his relationship with Tom Hicks has become, as opposed to him conceding defeat in what has widely been seen as a power struggle with Rafael Benítez.

There is no doubt that the Hicks camp have seen Parry as an obstacle to the successful running of the club, and Hicks has stated publicly what some of those reasons are. Their inability to work together sits on top of those reasons, but also highlights that there are other key differences to be fixed before the club can move forward.

Co-owner George Gillett has made no secret of his feelings towards Tom Hicks, although he did hint that they had at least got a professional relationship back. Gillett has made no such concessions with Rafa Benítez however, and even on his last trip to Liverpool he was said to be happy to talk about why he’s not keen on the manager.

This is one story that the rumour-mill struggled to hear, with only a very small number of people aware of the news late last night. Instead the rumours, and indeed some tabloid stories, were of an approach by Hicks to Jose Mourinho through third parties. This story was laughed off, and Parry is not believed to be in the frame for trying to leak it. It really doesn’t matter where it came from, but it does remind us once again to take what we read with a pinch of salt.

Thankfully this particular story will be announced officially today, leaving less room for speculation.

Understandably, some will see the announcement as a step backwards, but really only time will tell which direction it takes us. It could take the club forward, certainly anything that sees the “executive team” actually work as a team has to have advantages. And we’ve been unable to step anywhere for the past 12 months, sinking deeper into quicksand every time we’ve tried to take a step.

This will also give Rafa far less room to blame any failings on others. If he gets the control he’s sought, he’ll get the blame if it goes wrong. He shouldn’t mind that if, within reason, he’s deserving of the blame. And fans can then judge him on his own merits.

For all the criticisms levelled at Rick Parry, he has always been a Liverpool fan, and there are many examples of him putting the club or its supporters first. But for a number of reasons, his time at the club really had to come sooner rather than later.

This is a big day for Liverpool; we can only hope it turns into a positive one.

Real v Reds: Gerrard on bench, Xabi back


A day of speculation about the future of Rafa Benitez has meant speculation over Steven Gerrard’s fitness was almost forgotten about. But Liverpool’s captain won’t be risked from the kick-off tonight, having not played since a hamstring injury sustained against Everton.

He’ll be on the bench, but if the players in the starting line-up can all put their best performances in, he should be able to stay there all game.

Daniel Agger is injured and didn’t travel, so Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel get the centre-back roles. Sami Hyypia is on the bench having only just been restored to Liverpool’s Champions League squad. Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa are the full-backs.

Xabi Alonso is back in the eleven, having sat out Sunday’s draw through suspension, and will join Javier Mascherano in central midfield. How Rafa chooses to use Yossi Benayoun, Albert Riera and Dirk Kuyt remains to be seen, but we all know where Fernando Torres will play.

Like Torres, goalkeeper Pepe Reina grew up as a fan of Real’s rivals Atletico Madrid and will have extra reason to fight for a decent result tonight. Added to that, all the players need to respond to the recent speculation and pressure by making sure the critics have far less to talk about. And of course, the badge on their shirt should always add a massive incentive to perform.

Real have a familiar name on the bench, Jerzy Dudek is their reserve keeper. One-time Reds target Heinze is in the starting eleven, as is the renowned play-actor during his Chelsea days, Pepe Reina. Continue reading Real v Reds: Gerrard on bench, Xabi back

Liverpool do have a game in Madrid

It may sound like paranoia, but the English media really are out to get Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez.

It’s not really that he’s getting special treatment in that respect; he’s just the best candidate right now for that role.

The higher profile the manager, the higher the chance your campaign will sell papers or draw viewers in. And Rafa is about the highest profile target available.

The BBC will tell you what happens if you stand up to Alex Ferguson – and few other news outlets have the bottle to do the same. Chelsea’s bosses are changing so quickly these days that the press don’t have time to start a campaign against one before he’s been sent packing with his compensation cheque.

The other “top four” manager, Arsene Wenger, isn’t actually in charge of a top-four side at the moment. Arsenal are six points below fourth place in the league and well out of touch of top spot, but for some reason Wenger’s comments aren’t picked apart, or his every decision placed under a microscope.

The actual other current top-four manager is Martin O’Neill, who could change his name to Marmite O’Neill to demonstrate how he is viewed by many people. He always has something to say, and if he was the current target of the media there’d be plenty to pick at. As it is, his side are currently doing better than expected, and with Arsenal doing so poorly, the pressure is less of a problem than it might be. If his gamble to send a shadow squad out to contest the UEFA Cup backfires, and his side don’t take full points in the league at the weekend, maybe Rafa will get a little bit of a rest.  Maybe.

Of course now that Rafa is the centre of attention for the media, all he can do is to put out his strongest team every game, using his strongest formation, attacking from the off without ever looking like conceding a goal, and finishing the game as several-nil winners. Much less and there’s something that the media can pick at.

That only relates to post-match coverage though. Anything less than a convincing win tonight will see more “Rafa to quit” or “Rafa to be sacked” headlines. But even if there is a convincing win, the fallback is use the dispute over his contract, or – if any player fails to smile when being substituted – to bring up player unrest.

Tonight’s match is in Spain of course, homeland of Rafa and a number of his stars, and a lazy angle might be to say that one or more of the Spanish contingent were homesick, even more so after spending some time in Madrid. And Madrid was Rafa’s home, the place he first started to coach.

Rafa’s links to Real Madrid always make it easy to stitch some story up about him moving there. And it’s not just the press making stories up – rumours flying around supporters start to get some credence, yet most of the time they are no more credible than those that blue-scarved fish-wives like to spread through the city about the Liverpool players they’d love to see on their team’s books. Continue reading Liverpool do have a game in Madrid

Reds v Man City – Torres starts

Liverpool play host to Manchester City at Anfield this afternoon, needing a win to keep their title challenge going. Leaders Manchester United are eight points in front, but have played one game more.

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes may be feeling some pressure as boss of the so-called richest club, but his history as a player for both Everton and Manchester United suggest he’ll be putting even more effort into planning this one. 

Rafa Benitez has picked Fernando Torres to start up front. With Steven Gerrard injured and Xabi Alonso suspended, he had limited choice in midfield – Javier Mascherano and Lucas start. Dirk Kuyt, Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun will be looking to get amongst the goals

Fabio Aurelio is on the bench, with Benitez perhaps considering introducing him as a midfielder as the match goes on. His normal left-back role is filled by Andrea Dossena. Captain for the day Carragher will partner Skrtel in defence.

City keeper Shay Given will be hoping for a better day than the last time he faced Liverpool. He was in goal for Newcastle when they were on the wrong end of a 5-1 demolition by the Reds in December. Last time City met Liverpool was in October, with two goals from Torres and a third from Kuyt giving Liverpool three points after being 2-0 down.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 2 Dossena, 15 Benayoun, 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas, 11 Riera, 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 4 Hyypia, 12 Aurelio, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog, 26 Spearing, 31 El Zhar

Manchester City: 37 Given, 2 Richards, 22 Dunne, 4 Onuoha, 25 Bridge, 5 Zabaleta, 34 De Jong, 33 Kompany, 7 Ireland, 39 Bellamy, 10 Robinho
Subs: 1 Hart, 15 Garrido, 12 Vassell, 24 Evans, 11 Elano, 40 Weiss, 20 Caicedo

Referee: Phil Dowd

Kick-off: 3pm

Keane: Fee agreed, medical passed.

Liverpool FC have now confirmed their agreement to sell Robbie Keane back to Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs sold the Irish international forward to Liverpool in August for a fee of £19m, in a deal that could have risen to £20.3m had his time at the club worked out. Clearly it didn’t work out, and after weeks of speculation he finally got his wish to return to his old side.

Liverpool had already agreed for Keane to travel south to undergo a medical for Spurs, but made it clear that at that stage they had still not agreed the deal with Harry Redknapp’s side.

At around 4pm, with an hour to go until the transfer window was due to close, the club made a simple announcement: “Liverpool Football Club have reached agreement with Tottenham Hotspur for the sale of Robbie Keane.”

At 4.35pm it was reported that Keane had finally passed his medical, clearing the way for him to sign for Spurs before the 5pm deadline. It seems personal terms must have been agreed already.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp had made his desire to sign Keane public in interviews recently, much to the annoyance of Liverpool. This followed on from public complaints from Spurs about Liverpool’s conduct in pursuing the forward in the summer. A Keane representative is believed to have been discussing Keane’s desire to return to White Hart Lane as much as two months ago.

Redknapp told Sky Sports News this afternoon how glad he was to see the 28-year-old go back to White Hart Lane: “I am absolutely thrilled and delighted that Robbie Keane is back and is at Tottenham once again. He is a terrific player and can make all the difference. He will be a great signing for us once again.”

Keane heads back to the Lane

Liverpool’s Robbie Keane is – weather permitting – likely to be a Spurs player once more this evening. Liverpool gave the player permission to travel to the capital for a medical with his former club after receiving a cash-only bid that would limit Liverpool’s loss on the Irish international to around £3m.

It isn’t only the weather that could put the deal at risk: the two clubs aren’t yet in full agreement about the fee and the terms of the sale, but Liverpool have agreed that the medical can go ahead. Keane has said his farewells, but with only hours left until the deadline the two clubs will need to avoid getting held up with too many minor details.

Liverpool released a brief statement early afternoon, a spokesperson saying: “We’ve allowed Robbie to talk to Spurs but we’ve not yet finalised a deal with them for the player.” The Club have also told reporters that Keane can have a medical for Spurs, which is believed to be set to take place in a private hospital in Essex.

Relations within Anfield are well-documented as being far from cordial – and if that doesn’t hold the deal up the relations between Liverpool and Spurs just might. The two clubs were unhappy with each other in the summer: Spurs made public complaints about Liverpool’s approaching the player without their permission; Liverpool denied this but reportedly made a donation to charity at the request of Spurs, an action that saw Spurs drop their formal complaint to the FA.

Keane then joined the club he said was the one he supported as a boy – but Liverpool fans were split on whether or not it was a good deal.

Irish Reds loved him, and many fans had wished he’d signed for the Reds much earlier in his career. But he wasn’t the youngest striker around, and even though he had UEFA “home-grown” status his fee seemed to be very much on the high side. That fee was generally quoted as £20.3m, and has been quoted as such in practically every story about him since. But that £20.3m fee included £1.3m linked to certain conditions relating to his performances. Even so, £19m seemed to be too much in the eyes of many fans. Continue reading Keane heads back to the Lane