Rick Parry has decided to speak out about transfers in the wake of the much-publicised decision by the owners to block Rafa from negotiating the buying or selling of players.
The disagreement between the owners and the manager came about after Rafa was told in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t allowed to negotiate transfers. Rick Parry is often accused of letting deals slip through his fingers due to a continual lack of urgency when it comes to transfers. He nearly let Steven Gerrard join Chelsea when he chose to go away on holiday instead of speaking to the player, and he’s alleged to have lost out on other deals by simply failing to answer his phone or fax offers through.
The owners, despite this, still felt Rafa shouldn’t do his own negotiating. They feel Rafa should identify targets and inform the owners of them, then if the owners agree, Rick Parry can go and do the deal. At least that’s what they say, however their decision not to sanction the deals Rafa had in mind – telling him to try and win with the players he has – meant that the club missed out on deals Rafa clearly felt were worth doing.
As is often the case these days with statements coming out of the club, it doesn’t all quite add up. If the owners only felt Rafa had done wrong by trying to negotiate transfers himself, why did they not allow Parry to take over the negotiations so that the deals could go through? According to Parry, it’s not because of a lack of funds: “Money is always available if we need it,” claimed Parry. “We’re not going to give our plans away, but if we need to do something, we’ll do it.”
Liverpool are some way short of having a squad that meets the needs of its manager. Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are the two players that have stood out for the Reds this season, but the pair were clearly tired in the game against Manchester City yesterday – but Rafa had nobody of an equal standard to replace them with.
In the summer Liverpool got more money from TV revenue than ever before, had a good income from prize money after reaching the Champions League final and also made a larger amount than standard from player sales. As such Liverpool should have spent more money than in previous summers, and without the owners investing anything to make that happen. Parry knows this, and knows that in reality this summer did not see anything special done for the squad by the owners. But he knows he can say that more money was spent without it being a lie: “We spent more money this summer than ever before. The whole business model for the Americans is based on success.” But what level of success would that be Mr Parry? A top-four finish guarantees a place in the Champions League (assuming qualifiers are successfully negotiated), and a run into the New Year brings in a decent return in that European competition. Liverpool being a top-four side ensures the club will sell tickets for games, and of course the TV money is better the more games a side features in – and being a top four side ensures more coverage. So is top-four considered success for their business model? It’s highly unlikely that they would build a requirement to be champions into their business model, so using that as some kind of support for the owners is a little shallow and misleading.
He goes on: “There is no point investing in a new stadium and having a team that isn’t successful – clearly I’m not going to quote figures but there hasn’t been any change of budget.” We know there hasn’t been a change of budget, certainly up until the summer. The manager got the same as he would have done had David Moores hung on a little longer.
Parry says that winning the league isn’t an essential requirement but admits he knows the supporters expect the club to be close to winning the league every season: “Nobody is demanding we win the Premier League this year or any other year, but I think the supporters have an expectation that at least we are going to be in contention and there or thereabouts at the end of the season.”
There is no doubt that on paper Liverpool could win the league this season – but in reality that’s going to be difficult because the squad simply isn’t of a high enough quality in depth. But Parry seems to think that the squad is adequate: “We are still in contention without a doubt. If we can carry form into the New Year there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t compete. That’s the goal for all of us. It’s the goal for Rafa, for the supporters and it’s a goal for the owners. It’s absolutely a shared vision.”
There does seem to be a little bit of a softening towards Rafa from the board, but still no denial that the owners have planned to sack him. Tom Hicks implied that the press had made up the stories about them wanting to fire him – well why did it take a month for him to say this? Hopefully they’ve started to realise what a mistake that would be. Parry said: “We appointed Rafa because we wanted a manager with experience of winning a major championship. That’s what we’re aiming for. The recent meeting was extremely good. It was cordial and it was very, very positive.”
The transfer window opens tomorrow and Rafa isn’t expected to make any major signings, although a desperately-needed central-defender is being lined-up. Javier Mascherano’s permanent deal won’t be going ahead before the summer, the owners willing to take a risk on him being made an offer to join another club. Parry says the meeting at least cleared the air: “It gave us the chance to make sure everybody understands where everyone else is coming from. Now, we’re just focused on the second half of the season.”
Rafa spoke after yesterday’s draw about transfers, saying that there were some players very close to being lined-up. Whether that includes the Bosmans he was blocked from lining up in November remains to be seen, but a centre-back is certainly one target: “We are working to try to find some solutions and we are close to getting some players. Until they actually put pen to paper we will keep working with the players we have but we are confident we can get the right players at the right price and that would be good for us,” said Rafa.
Momo Sissoko’s recent outburst over being omitted from the Champions League game against Marseille, alongside some poor performances by his standards, mean that Rafa will at least listen to offers for the Mali international.