Rafa to be sacked by absentee owners?

The difficulties between Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and the club’s current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett continue to dominate the thoughts of Reds supporters, the vast majority of whom are 100% behind the manager.

Liverpool are fifth in the table but with a game in hand on most of those above them. In fact a 1-0 win in that game in hand, were it to be played now, would put Liverpool second. They’ve won their last three games in a row scoring thirteen goals and conceding none.

Yet Rafa’s job is under threat. This has been leaking out in hints and rumours since Rafa’s angry press conference on Thursday, but today it was reported in the News of The World by Chris Bascombe. Rafa is to be sacked.

Former Liverpool Echo reporter Bascombe took a lot of stick for moving to the Sunday national. Whether he was right to move there is not the argument for here and now, but when he went he didn’t leave a little black book of phone numbers behind him, his contacts didn’t suddenly decide they wanted nothing more to do with him, and any friendships built up didn’t disappear with him. He might have times when his stories get given sensationalist headlines by the sub-editor, but read his stories carefully and you will be reading what he believes to be true.

And today Chris Bascombe believes Rafa is looking likely to be sacked. And worse than that, one of the names on the list is arguably the most despised opposition manager in Liverpool’s history, Jose Mourinho. Short of employing Alex Ferguson, there’s little the owners could do to upset the supporters more.

There’s no “ifs” in Bascombe’s article – he is sticking his neck on the line and saying it is only a matter of “when”. He writes: “Rafa Benitez will be sacked following his latest tirade against Liverpool owner Tom Hicks. And former Kop hate-figure Jose Mourinho is the shock front runner to replace him.”

If Bascombe writes that then Bascombe has been told that. If he only though it was a possibility (as Rafa would put it) then he wouldn’t have worded it in such a way. His editor didn’t ask him to beef a story up. He wrote the story from information given to him. Chilling information.

According to Bascombe, the manager’s departure had been lined up before this week’s press conference. Rafa himself referred to things changing after the Arsenal game (which is around the time Foster Gillett abandoned ship and left for the States) – and to take away a manager’s right to negotiate transfer deals is not a good sign in this country. Rafa wasn’t asking for more money, he was trying to sell players so that he could buy others. He was told to stop, and to leave it to the Chief Executive Rick Parry, renowned for forgetting to fax offers to clubs or even to switch his phone on.

That clearly set alarm bells ringing for Rafa, and perhaps the spineless duo expected him not to notice. According to Bascombe, “It’s now a matter of when not if the Spanish boss leaves Anfield and that’s expected to be sooner rather than later.”

Mourinho is being linked elsewhere with the England job this weekend by the Observer, in an article that also mention his family is desperate to return to England, with his daughter being bullied at school. Chances are she’d continue to be bullied if her father was forced onto supporters of England’s most successful side in history – if even fans of his own team didn’t like her father, he’s hardly going to be popular in the area.

Reading into Bascombe’s words, at least he is less sure that Mourinho would be coming to Anfield, implying that no approach has been made yet: “An approach will be made once Benitez’s departure is confirmed.” And the arrogant Portuguese man’s severance agreement with Chelsea is believed to include a proviso that he does not manage another English club this season, which means he would not be stepping into Rafa’s shoes just yet.

The owners know that to sack Rafa would mean the end of their days of being able to come to Anfield wearing scarves and pretending to care about the club, rather than the money. In fact to most Reds those days are now over. Hicks has shown his true colours, and they are not red white and yellow. Gillett has been very quiet in all of this. In fact Gillett seems to be getting pushed out of the way by his richer partner, which might suggest why Foster Gillett disappeared.

Rafa did try to get his own views forward after yesterday’s convincing 3-0 win over Newcastle, which saw him praised regularly throughout the game by the travelling Liverpool supporters. Rafa explained how he’d not even been asking for additional funds, just asking to make use of funds he had left over from before, along with money from the sales of players he no longer required.

Rafa was quite calm in the interview, and tried to be diplomatic. He basically tried to explain that he didn’t feel Hicks was aware of the differences between European football and the fairly insular sports of the US: “It is clear Mr Hicks wants the best for the club and we want the best for the club. Because we have been here for a long time, we know what passion means in football in Europe. We know what the transfer window market means – it’s not a draft system. We know what it means to sign free – and I insist free – players now. I was not asking to spend money, I was asking to do things with free players.

“They know the manager needs to manage the squad and prepare the squad for this year and for the future.

“We had a meeting the day of the Arsenal game and the meeting was really positive, but after this meeting something changed. I tried to explain my ideas, but they said to me ‘Rafa, keep focusing on coaching and training because Rick Parry will be in charge of buying and selling players’. I’m sure Mr Hicks knows what I want. I have passion for this club. The fans who were with me in Istanbul know what it means to me.

“I tried to explain to them and now, it is simple. They say, ‘Keep focussed and Mr Parry will keep working in the transfer market’.

“I have a very good squad and want to improve the squad. I didn’t talk about money – I was thinking about bringing money back in. I am trying to do my best as a manager for the club. I have not been talking about spending but doing the opposite. We have brought money back. We brought in £26m this year and you can see the value of the squad.

“I am the manager of this club, and the team and the squad is my responsibility. I think everyone involved wants the best for the club, but the Americans do not understand how the transfer window works as well as I do.

“They don’t understand what the transfer window means in Europe. They need to understand how difficult it is to sign a player and, when the possibility comes, you must do it or you will lose him.

“I was trying to explain, now we try to keep focus and win games. We are trying to do the best for the club. We have targets we need to tie up now, we need to talk to agents and sign players now. If we don’t we will lose targets and need to do something in the summer, which would be far more expensive. Hopefully it will be resolved because we want the best for the club.

“I have been told to concentrate on training the players, and that Rick Parry will be in charge of signing people. I have three targets for January, so we shall see.”

It can only be hoped that Chris Bascombe’s article came from information fed to him to help the owners test the water. Well they’ll soon see that the water will be boiling if they try to sack the best manager the club has had since Kenny Dalglish was here. Fans are already talking of boycotts of games and of products that make the club money, in some cases even of giving up on football altogether. No matter what kinds of issues the owners have fought through in the past, they’ve really no idea of how firm Liverpool supporters can be in their resolve. Perhaps they think the true Liverpool supporters can be replaced, by the so-called “Sky generation” supporter, who will be willing to spend more money to watch a game in their expensive clothing bought from the club’s new superstores. That’s a big gamble to take – but it’s not even their gamble. They are as we speak trying to negotiate new finance deals, which will not only cover the cost of the new stadium, but also the costs of their purchase of the club. Money they promised would not be secured on the club will be secured on the club.

By the time the duo arrive here, finally, to take in a big game (Manchester United at Anfield) we might already have lost Rafael Benitez. If so they’ll already have lost a lot of their supporters.

If they can put what seems to be their stubborn side behind them, perhaps they can try to see just what they will be throwing away by sacking Rafael Benitez. Even if they don’t sack him, the trust in them has gone as they’ve allowed rumours about their changes of plan over financing to go on unchecked, only speaking out to criticise the manager that most fans of our club are proud of. Their silence, distance and inaction needs to end.

Instead of sacking Rafael Benitez they need to look at the amount of upset Rick Parry caused in the Athens ticketing debacle. David Moores relied on him far too long, and now – rumours say – regrets selling to the Americans. (If he does, he ought to speak out instead of hiding). Rick Parry is either the cause of a lot of Rafa’s woes through his laid-back approach to getting off his backside in transfer dealings, or is just doing as he’s told. If he’s doing as he’s told, and cares about Liverpool FC even a small amount, it’s time he resigned. And if he’s just doing his job badly, the Americans need to see this and appoint somebody else.

Maybe if Hicks can take time out from the Hockey this weekend, he’ll have the decency and courage to admit that maybe, just maybe, he’s judged all this wrong. Maybe he’ll have the conviction to actually change his mind. But nobody here is holding their breath.

21 thoughts on “Rafa to be sacked by absentee owners?”

  1. This is all like a bad dream, and to Rafa must be like history repeating itself. I have a horrible feeling that the owners are almost trying to force Rafa to resign instead of firing him.

    They seem to believe that following the playbook they’ve developed for success in there american/canadian sports teams will hold the same success. From what I know it goes something like, 1. Hiring most “successful” manager you can, 2. Buy one or two big names to build the team around, 3. New stadium aimed at drawing the biggest crowds.

    What they seem to be missing is that they’ve already got the best man for the job in the job.

  2. This is by far the most disturbing news of all time. Sacking Rafa will not solve the problem. Getting Jose aint either. In the 1st place, Jose resigned because he ain’t got power to sign players in Chelsea…u think he’s going to join the devil who now owns Liverpool?

    25 years of being a liverpool fan. This is perhaps the first time I think of really really giving up on Liverpool because of the owners. What happened to the debts on themselves, now USA wants it secured on the club? This is like going back on their words.

    Moores, what have you done?

  3. It is quite incredible to think that Rafa may be sacked for speaking the truth to Hicks, who clearly does not understand football business in Europe.
    He is showing himself to be very unreliable and certainly not a man of his word, to David Moores, to Rafa and to the fans, we now have a relationship that surely cannot be of any good to LFC’s future.

  4. It’s well documented Benitez left Valencia after board apathy/interference in his transfers, and if provoked is likely to do so again. While I don’t agree with all of his decisions, there is no doubting his class, intelligence and passion for the club. Mourinho would be a nightmare and a disgrace to what the club stands for. I would be absolutely gutted. I hope this is all habitual NOTW Sunday hogwash, as even the Glazers have had the sense to leave Fergie alone, which few would have expected at the outset.

  5. I agree with a huge amount with what you are saying in your article, especially about Rick Parry and other issues, but I think the most dissapointing aspect of all this argument between Hicks et al and Benitez, is that it comes at a time were we are unbeaten in the league, and probably have our strongest squad in 17 years.

    I think we have to be realistic, in that, unless you get an investor/owner who actually supports the club, or football in general, then decsions are going to be made in a more cold and clinical manner.

    In a nutshell, when it comes down to it, Hicks and Gillett will run the club as they know how i.e. as a business investment not a sporting institution.

    This is the problem Liverpool fans have faced for several years. Do we keep David Moores, who cares about the club and undertands it more then anyone, but cannot take us to another in terms of finance, or do we need investment no matter what?

    The overwhelming response was that we needed investment or that we were going to fall by the wayside. From then on the supporters trusted Moores and Parry to make the right decision.

    Indeed, not too long ago, Rafa was openly championing investment into the club, but, as always, there is a price to pay. Under Moores, although finacially he was not able to compete in the ‘top’ end of the transfer market, he was given full support by the board to run the team and its affairs as he saw fit.

    Now, he may have more money, but there is less control for him and he is now dealing with ‘non’ football men.

    Just look at chelsea, as much as I don’t like the man did Mourinho really deserve to be sacked? No, but the owner could not work with him and there is only one winner. Dito with Benitez.

    I think, if the Yanks do get rid of Benitez on non footballing grounds, it will be a very dark day for this club and the confirmation of our worst fears.

    The Irony is that every one thought it be the other lot taken over by yanks that would have the most problems and it was the one that caused the most outrage, but things have gone smoothly in comparision.

    I cannot believe things have turned sour in such a short space of time, and if Hicks and Gillette cannot resolve their issues with one of the most talanted manager’s in world football, then not only could they lose our most realistic chance of a title challenge in year’s, but also the support of the majority of hard-core Liverpool supporters. Something which they will do at their peril.

    I am not even going to mention the likelyhood of Torres, Reina and Alonso sticking around in Rafa get’s the boot…

  6. If Rafa goes, the owners will lose even more than any amount Rafa is asking for during this transfer window. won’t be now, but definitely by summer. All the spanish (speaking) players will leave, therefore the americans will have to look into replacing reina, arbeloa, alonso, torres, mascherano, lucas, and the others. Then, there is the 6mil reported buyout of the manager’s contract. Players have come to Liverpool on the strength of one man’s reputation and ability, and a lot won’t stay when the person they came to work for is gone. Europe is not monogenous like in America. something the owners have to come to grips with. i.e. the nationality of the manager is an important factor for which players will come with him. sacking the best manager this club has had in recent memory, to be replaced by who exactly?

    Not to forget that new manager will need new players to compensate for the ones leaving, then further wait for that elusive title as new players need time to bed into the side.

  7. I can’t believe they are even thinking about this – but one thing is puzzling, where is the apparently more ‘friendly’ Mr Gillet? Football is not just about coming over every two months for big games and hobknobbing with the Glazers!

    I, for one, will be boycotting everything LFC if they do sack Rafa. It’s an absolutely unthinkable situation. The best manager we have had for many years – who is building a fantastic squad, who is also shrewd in the market.

    I hate the new owners already. They don’t understand football. To sack a brilliant manager would mean going backwards 4-5 years and more rebuilding, mass transfers and players loyal to Rafa leaving. Surely, even they understand that.

    You can always rely on (certain) Americans to steamroller in to a situation without thinking things through.

  8. One rather uncomfortable fact which just occured to me, i.e. the moaninho saga where the best manager(sic) Chelsea ever had was unceremoniously dumped by the club’s owner so maybe the texan was thinking, if Chelsea can do it, why can’t Liverpool?

  9. First I think the owners are a bit right in demanding some sort of ‘show me the true colour of the squad’. After all we should be stronger this year but we have fared barely at CL. (That’s where the money lies).

    So the new owners might say no more money down the drain.

    If we win over Porto and Marseille – things will change quickly. In Premiership we have a game in hand and we played most of or games away – unlike Arsenal.

    Let’s hope that all this is just a smokescreen for things to come.

  10. Thanks for all the comments. Just wanted to clarify something. Rafa hasn’t asked for more money. He’s tried to negotiate a number of sales, and with the money from that, to negotiate some targets to buy with that money. He’s also tried to negotiate some Bosmans. Overall it would cost the club and the owners nothing. He’s been told he isn’t allowed to do that.

  11. Gutted!! This is talk that you do not want to hear.. The fact that the yanks have repeated what they said already is by the nature of the coment that they have quietly agreed to sack Rafa!! They will only stick to this coment as they know what awaits them when they come back over to Liverpool.
    Rafa will talk to the press, the yanks will do nothing exept repeat their coments and then when it is time they will announce that they have let him go. Rafa will only stay if he says sorry through the Media…watch this space…

  12. We need to get rid of these yanks now. They have no sense of what they are doing – taking transfers out of the managers hands – doh.

    They know NOTHING. Get them out. Let’s show our support for Rafa on Weds and show them what the club means to us.

    They mean nothing!

  13. The only information we have comes from claims made by the owners, Benitez, and outsiders. There is absolutely no actual proof that Hicks and Gillett want to sack Benitez, but sadly this has not stopped the majority of people with an internet connection acting as if there is. What is sadder is the anti-American bigotry on this page, from using the pejorative ‘yank’ onwards. What is clearly true, and is shameful, is the public petulance displayed by both sides. On the plus side, performances are improving. I think Benitez, Hicks and the supporters should all calm down, show more respect to each other, and react to actual events, rather than speculative hearsay.

  14. Tom Hicks is an idiot. I am from TX and follow his other teams closely and he finally realized that what was best for the Stars (hockey) was to fire the GM. It took him a few years to figure that out. I think he has perfected the management idea of seemingly putting in a lot of money at first and then pulling out and not wanting to do anything else. He is an idiot and I knew when I first saw he had an interest, that LFC would be doomed along with everyone who worked for LFC.

  15. Jim, I haven’t made up my mind that Hicks is THE bad guy. I have made up my mind that Hicks is A bad guy. You seem to push the view that all the dirt you can dig up on the other parties involved accrues to the benefit of Hicks. How does that make sense? I’ve no doubt you will leave no stone unturned trying to find out who leaked the letter to Sky. How does that detract from the crass behaviour of Hicks in writing it, knowing full well that as a 50% shareholder and in a minority on the issue in the boardroom he was not able to effect Parry’s removal. It was nothing more than a piece of gratuitous visciousness and deserves to be exposed as such regardless of your determination to show that Gillett, DIC et al are just as capable of telling lies.

    At least we don’t here so much of the “what do we really know of DIC” argument. We have got to the stage at which Pol Pot would be seen as a better proposition than what we have in place. In fact most fans can see one scenario worse than the current one and that is Hicks with an effective majority.

  16. By that Texas guy’s definition Tom Hicks has proved as successful as say the owners of Blackburn Rovers? One topline win in donkey’s years middle of the road since. He does not get it we have bigger ambitions than that.

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