Rafa Benítez has been quoted on Liverpool's official site
today as saying that there is no rush for the club to bring in new players. He
said: "We have a number of targets, and I am receiving interesting phone calls
all the time. We are monitoring situations all the time and there is no urgency
According to Rafa, the lack of urgency is because the
Spanish season has just ended, suggesting that's where most of his targets are
from: "If we bring in players from Spain, they only finished playing a week ago
so they will need a longer break, but I would like somebody in before we start
So why the change of heart from the boss? The day after
Athens, Rafa was clearly unhappy. Inadequate hotel facilities made him tired,
the fact his side had just lost the final wasn't going to help, but he felt he
was never going to be able to make the improvements he needed. The owners were
good at talking, but talking wasn't good enough.
He said that morning: "I want to see things happening right
now. I'm tired of talking, talking. We talk and talk but we never finish. I am
worried about talking to players, for one or two months or even six months, and
then losing them. I want things to be done. If we want to improve the squad, we
need money. We have some targets."
At that time Rafa was thinking that getting in there and
then for their first targets could save them some money: "We must say: ‘Sign
him.' We can sign top-class targets for 15 million to 20m Euros right now."
That was a month ago. Lucas Leiva was already bought by that
stage (with the club's overdraft being used to fund it), but Rafa was hoping to
bring in more players. "Top-class" ones too, but seemed to be saying that he
was being held back.
Since he arrived at Anfield Rafa has been frustrated by not
quite having enough money to buy the players he wanted. Some of those have shot
up in value or gone to rivals instead. This summer he wanted things to be
Even the contract negotiations to keep existing players at
the club dragged on longer than he'd liked, but in the end most of the players
signed their new deals. Most – not all. There still hasn't been an official
announcement on Momo Sissoko or Steve Finnan's contract talks.
Back in Athens Rafa was dropping hints that he saw parallels
between the current situation at Anfield and the way things were as he decided
to leave his job as coach of Valencia: "At Valencia we won the league for the
first time in 31 years, but the club decided not to improve and we finished
fifth the next season. They thought we were winners and didn't need to sign
anyone. It is the situation I am watching here in the last few years."
He wanted to make sure everyone knew he felt the club were
further away from league success than the owner were claiming: "They say we are
close, we are close, but we are not close. We are 21 points behind, 30 points
behind, 15 points behind. And we cannot work harder."
A few weeks later and Rafa wasn't giving quotes about what
was going on behind the scenes – but he was ensuring his message got out. His
budget hadn't yet been handed to him, certainly there was no sign of the
amounts of money we'd all felt had been promised by the new owners. Rafa's list
of targets moved down a few notches in terms of value, and then later
speculation was that the new owners had fallen out: They wouldn't spend another
dime of their money on anything they'd not already committed to.
Now Rafa is saying everything's ok – no need to worry, no
need to panic. Who are the "interesting phone calls" from? Is Rafa just putting
on a brave face, or has he had an "interesting phone call" from the States
confirming the transfer kitty is now in the bank? We'll know on the First of
September if he's had the funds he thought he'd been promised, if our owners
have helped us get some "edge of the seat" signings at long, long last.
If they haven't, they'll have some explaining to do – but if
they have, Rafa will have some winning to do. We need to finally get close to
that title – close enough to win it.