Report: Hicks softening where DIC concerned

Texan Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks is beginning to soften his stubborn approach to selling his share in Liverpool Football Club, as Dubai International step up their efforts to buy the club they missed out on just over a year ago.

According to Chris Bascombe in an article on the News of the World’s website, George Gillett Junior will be the most likely of the two to bail out first, with a healthy profit coming his way as soon as he does. The report says that the duo would share £50m between them, with the negotiations having reached a “key stage”.

The report also says Hicks is “the main obstacle”, with DIC seeking a “swift conclusion”.

Regardless of how hard Hicks tries to deny it, there’s no doubt whatsoever that DIC are in talks with the current owners about buying into the club. PR firms have been engaged to deal with the press on behalf of DIC, and even before that key journalists were getting information to pass on to their readers. And that’s not only coming from DIC, there are people inside the club other than Hicks and Gillett who need to be involved in at least certain aspects of the interest from Dubai.

What is in doubt is just how much money is being put on the table by DIC, and how much the US owners are now demanding. They paid £174m for the club last year. Or at least they borrowed the money to pay for the club, including an additional £45m to pay off the club’s debt at the time of making their offer to shareholders, a total of £219m. In theory you could have gazumped the duo with a quarter-of-a-billion a year ago had you got it to spare (or were able to borrow it).

By the autumn gazumping was out of the question because you’d now have to convince Hicks and Gillett to sell rather than David Moores. And Hicks and Gillett were willing to sell part of their share in the club by then – and began talks with DIC to negotiate such a deal, as Tom Hicks confirmed earlier this year. But now a quarter of a billion wasn’t enough. Hicks and Gillett’s asking price for the partial share in the club was based on a value of £1billion for the whole club.

In six or seven months the club’s value, if Hicks and Gillett were to be humoured, was four times greater. Yet nothing had changed. Drawings of a stadium that turned out to be a fantasy had been produced, and given planning permission too based on a 60,000 capacity. But drawings don’t add value to a club to the extent that it becomes worth four times its previous value. Transfer dealings were no different significantly to other seasons, Rafa spending a pretty standard £20m net in 2007, so the squad wasn’t now worth three-quarters of a billion more than before. Nothing new had happened in terms of new potential income streams either – TV deals were in place before the owners took over, thirty-ninth games hadn’t been mentioned. And thirty-ninth games don’t make a club £750m more expensive either.

With that in mind, DIC politely declined, but their interest had been rekindled.

Hicks and Gillett were sweating on getting a refinancing package in place to replace their loan from a year ago and it went right to the wire before they got it, and not on terms they liked. They wanted to load all £350m of their newer, bigger loan onto the club. The banks weren’t keen, nor were the non-family members of the board. Eventually the loan was split into two portions. £105m went onto the club’s books and the rest was put onto the holding company’s books, but secured against assets owned by the two families. Some of the club’s £105m was to be used, the owners claimed, for transfers and initial work on the new stadium. By then it was too late for the winter transfer window, which had just closed, and we’ve still heard nothing about progress on getting the latest version of the stadium project underway.

According to the report in the News of the World, the club is valued at £400m, and this would leave the £50m for the US owners to split with each other after the £350m had been settled with the banks. Other reports recently have referred to figures as high as £550m, but it seems that a figure in the mid-£400m range is most likely to be a maximum.

Another complication to any DIC takeover which has been suggested previously is a condition of the owners’ original purchase. Both owners are believed to have first refusal on each others’ holdings should one party wish to sell, and this is mentioned again in today’s report. A common business practice, it does leave us all with what Chris Bascombe describes as a “nightmare scenario” – the possibility that Hicks could take that option and become the 100% shareholder in the club.

Gillett certainly couldn’t afford to buy Hicks out; his finances are believed to have been stretched to the limit with the guarantees he had to put in place for the recent loan. Hicks too would struggle to raise that kind of money and no doubt would already have bought Gillett out some time ago had he been both willing and able.

That recent loan was hard for the owners to raise, and Bascombe suggests that perhaps the next stage on that obstacle-laden path to the new stadium, a further loan of £300m, may be one bridge too far for Hicks. He writes that with this in mind, “even Hicks’ hardline stance has softened in recent days.”

Elsewhere there remain rumours that Hicks will retain some interest in the club, a minority holding which would allow him to make further profit in the future if the new regime run the club successfully. In fact depending on the final price paid, he could retain a 10% share of the club having had all his share of the £350m debt paid off.

If DIC valued the club at £450m, but Hicks wanted to retain a 10% share of the club DIC would therefore pay Gillett £225m – 50% of the club’s value – and Hicks would get £180m – 40% of the club’s value. Hicks currently owes half of the £350m loan that was recently taken out, which is £175m. The money from DIC would cover that, and leave him with a nice £5m windfall to spend on a gift for the family. Obviously those figures are nice round numbers, and with £105m of the debt now actually in the club’s name it may work slightly differently, but Hicks could retain a partial ownership of the club, get a say in what happens in the future, and continue to make money from it. And it would have cost him nothing, other than time and aggravation.

Whether we get a complete takeover by DIC or otherwise, it’s now extremely likely that the Arabs will be running the club quite soon. This season has been a write-off in so many ways the summer break can’t come soon enough. We have to hope that it comes back stronger, as it should have done last summer.

From the first signs of trouble last summer, through the mess we’ve seen both sides of Christmas, many of the facts have been broken by Chris Bascombe in both the Echo and more recently in the News of the World. He’s written an interesting chronology of events that lead up to today’s hopeful proximity to a new era for the club, and reveals something which might surprise you:

“In recent weeks an unlikely bond has formed between Hicks and Benitez. The bust-up which prompted so much bad blood splattered across the back pages has been mended.”

This ties in with what was being said earlier in the month that Rafa had been reassured privately about his future and had accepted those reassurances. The reassurances were said to be from Hicks, not Gillett, who remains silent. Rafa now seems to have softened in terms of his view of Hicks, which is quite some turnaround, but of course planning his off-field tactics is as big a part of Rafa’s day now as planning the on-field ones.

Cynics might suggest that Chris’s chronological article, accompanied by images of certain back pages from the paper, is a plug for the News of the World to try and win back some credit after last week. Rob Beasley’s “exclusive” was considered by Rafa to have sufficiently twisted his words that he started to take legal action. In reality the article serves more as a plug for Chris’s work and the stories he’s managed to break through the long-term building of LFC-related sources. It serves as a reminder that not all the NotW reporters should be tarred with the same brush, and that what Chris writes is as important for Reds to read now as it was when he was writing in the Echo. You can read the article in full on the NotW website – – it makes interesting reading.

Also making interesting reading is an article in the Telegraph. It seems they’ve been tipped off that Peter Crouch is considering using a new ruling that allows players to leave for a fee equal to their remaining wages if they’ve served a specific portion of their contract. This ruling was one of the reasons Rafa made it clear that new deals for Gerrard, Reina, Alonso and others were so important last summer. Before supporters get angry with the England international, the article does suggest that Crouch would be looking to use the ruling to boost his bargaining power in contract renewal negotiations, rather than in a real attempt to leave Anfield.

Crouch… is the latest big name to consider using the loophole. The Sunday Telegraph understands that Crouch is carefully considering exploiting the ruling, one of several options open to the England striker whose current deal expires at the end of next season.

Although both Liverpool and Crouch’s agent Jonathan Barnett refused to confirm that similar action was being taken by the player, it is understood that the threat of buying out his contract and leaving for far less than his market value is likely to form part of Crouch’s negotiations.

Barnett said clubs had nothing to worry about if they behaved responsibly: “Certainly it will change the way things are conducted and we are probably heading for a period of shorter contracts. But I’ve never heard of a player volunteering to leave a club when he is happy and being well-paid.” Whether Crouch is happy is another matter, however; he played yesterday, but has started only six Premier League games this season.

Although the rule applies only to cross-border transfers, Graham Shear, one of the country’s top sports lawyers, says this was an unviable restraint and “would certainly be challenged”.

Crouch was reportedly attracting offers of around £10m last summer, a clear profit on the £7m he was bought for. A player with 16 months left on a £50,000 a week contract could leave for less than £3.5m under this new rule.

I suppose it gives us all something else to think about for a change.

36 thoughts on “Report: Hicks softening where DIC concerned”

  1. cant u guys see whats wrong with the team? its the manager not the owners……owners don’t pick first elevens….rafa does….n if he can beat barnsley at anfield than forget bout winning the premiership we all r craving for under rafa… liverpool fan i m really dissappointed with what rafa has done for the past few months……

  2. Jim,

    I am away on holiday supposed to be enjoying myself and but for now not-so-new technologies I would be.

    But so hooked on the newspapers and the blogosphere, I woke up to see we lost to Barnsley and that those pillocks from across the Pond are still at our club wanting money for what has been the worst off-the-field performance in living memory.

    Shocked that we lost to Barnsley is an understatement.

    Without reading the reports and, unusually for me, I began baying for Rafa to go.

    Then I read the reports and saw how chance after chance went begging. Rafa cannot be blamed for that.

    Then I read that Kuyt had scored…finally.

    And that Crouch had missed easy chances…..after so many fans have been calling on him to start.

    Ok – we lost to Barnsley. Yes, in its own way it is humiliating. But defeats happen – even shock ones. Even at Anfield. The question is why and how did we lose? From what I have read, it is recoverable and Tuesday, so important now, will tell us alot.

    As for Hickabilly and Gutless – ok, there is a sense of relieve that they may finally be going (and a sense of fear of what is coming instead!). But there time at the club is an example of how PR – no matter how great – is no good unless it is matched up by delivery.

    We have seen great PR in politics in the past from Tony Blair, to David Cameron and now Barac Obama in America. Certainly in the first two cases I cannot see the delivery – and in the 3rd we may or may not find out.

    Hicks and Gillett did/have not delivered.

    Will DIC? Do not let there PR be the way in which we judge them. We have had enough of that.

    Keep the faith guys. Criticise Rafa, by all means. Criticise the players for sure. But be realistic. Look at what he and the players have delivered before. And know that they can, under better stewardship, deliver it again.

    In Rafa I Trust’

  3. i have to say if it all goes through with DIC i wouldn’t be as worried about what is happening with our club they seem really kind to buy our club and have done so for a while now, and to be honiest with anything is got to be better then having them money grabbing yanks at our club.

    as for rafa i think hicks and gillett have destored him he has been a very different person since they took over and the only way i can see him returning to his normal self is by them leaving and for us to get rafa and pako to sort it out because rafa sure does miss him.

    the game yesterday wasn’t a bad performance so to speak but we wasted a lot chances and to give credit to barnsley they keeper was great it looked like he had magnets on his gloves and they did one thing that we never and that is take there 2 chances. the team that was put out yesterday should have hummered barnsley, kuyt had a good game and scored which can only do him the world of good, babel was great only to be taken off which didnt make any sence to be honiest and alonso looked back to his best he pulled all the strings for us but then faded out when gerrard came on. The rest of the players were ok and didnt make any real impact to the game but there was enough there to beat them but you could just see barnsley scoring a winner it was just the way the game went and just like the rest of the season so far we were the best team and yet we still couldn’t kill the game off.

    The next thing is how are we going to perform against Inter milan we will have to be at our to get anything from that game but even then we might get anything out of it because we cant kill the game off like we should be doing. if we lose to Inter then i think that will spell the end to rafa being manager which to be honiest has been on the cards for a long time this season because so many question marks have been left over rafa’s head and none them have yet been answered……..

    bring on the end of the season is how many of us are feeling at the moment but just lets hope by then we still have rafa as manger and that DIC will be our new owners and so we can leave the year and a bit that hick and gillett have made so miserable for us all and start fresh and continue supporting a team that we all love and that looks like its going forward not backwards…..

  4. Carra “we aint good enough”

    Gerrard ” We lack the cutting edge”

    Rafa ” Every game its the same story, take your chances, score the first goal, dont concede”

    Rafa picked a team, the team had several chances to win the game, didnt take their chances.


    If you play golf and you have ten birdy chances from 1 metre. You miss all you birides. You cannot blame your putter, nor your golf coach.

  5. im sorry but since the reading game i have no time for rafa. this is not about yesterday,and yes it was a freak reult.this is about a manager that keeps changing teams on a regular a footballer myself i know if i play well i wanna be in the team every week,for example,if we had beaten barnsley,it would not have mattered to them players because they know they would not be in the team for the inter game.bottom line is there is no continuioty in the team,nothing to play for as a player that knows however good he plays he might not be in the team the game after.the players no this rotation crap is not working which means there is no more belief in rafa.thanks for what you have done mate but enough is enough.

  6. Sorry Midland but you must have had one 2 many on your hols Rafa caused this mess with Barnsley not the owners and not the players, his rotation policy and taking off the best player we had on the field Babell (on the day) was unforgivable.
    Rafa must change this policy or leave this summer, if we get kicked out of the CL with his crazy policy then he should be sacked.

  7. doesnt anyone who keeps saying its not Rafas fault that we aint good enough realise that out of a sqaud of around 22, Rafa brought in 17 of these players who “arent good enough”
    i say Rafa does deserve some severe critiscism of that. time for a clean sweep,new owners,new manager who will spend money wisely on proper players. real winners not a load of players who even the most avid Liverpool fan would struggle to even recognise on the street. Rafa has bought some real crap since he took over and the only real good signings he has made he seems to rotate and drop for no reason ie reina,mascherano. also it seems rafa is looking at a defensive midfielder and a right back in the summer. sorry but i though we lack cutting edge,tell ya what, another defensive minded player is just what we need then

  8. Rafa can only buy what his budget allows. If Rafa has 20m to spend and he needs three players, then hehas to look at players within a specific price range. If you gave rafa a budget of 70m he could buy more players of torres ability.

    That yank said “if you want sign snoop doggy dog, we will buy him”.

    You got realise Rafa lost his cool and went public becasue the ownrs lied and did not keep up their promises.

    If Rafa does go. we will be loosing a great great coach.

  9. wake up will you people!
    2 seasons ago ManU supporters where baying for Slur Alexes blood saying”he’s had long enough its time for him to go!” 24 months on and theyre singing his praises!

    the united borad kept faith with their manager and have been rewarded., just like the Liverpool of old would have done!

    Rafa must stay continuity and patience is the secret to success.

  10. Some good points, some bad points, some points that aren’t bad but I don’t agree with. Thanks all.

    One good point is in the opening comment – how many people descended on Rafa with all their venom without having actually seen the game, having only heard the score? Only 40-odd thousand people in England were able to legally watch the game, and those who did see it using either computer screens or in pubs that show it on foreign satellite would be limited. Still, a lot will have been critical having only seen the Teletext updates or from watching the Soccer Saturday programme or the BBC’s equivalent.

    31 shots at goal, 20 on target according to the BBC’s count.

    Of course for some yesterday didn’t make a difference – they’d already grown tired of Rafa well before that game. But one poster says his mind was made up after the Reading game in December. Maybe he’s not seen how everything panned out, but there was one big factor in that defeat that gets glossed over by Rafa’s critics. See –

    Nov 6 – Besiktas 8-0.
    Nov 10 – Fulham 2-0.
    Nov 23 – Rafa “concentrating” press conference.
    Nov 24 – Newcastle 3-0.
    Nov 24 – Klinsmann had been offered job by now.
    Nov 25 – NOTW reveal Rafa sack threat, dating back to the summer, not related to performances.
    Nov 28 – Porto 4-1.
    Dec 2 – Bolton 4-0.
    Dec 8 – Reading 1-3. 5 wins in a row, still unbeaten in the league, then this. But with Rafa knowing that the game to follow was an all-or-nothing tie he had to think about the game in a different way to normal. Lose against Marseilles and he gets sacked. Anyone who criticises him for that has some gall to be honest – what would you do? (If you don’t like your job, don’t reply!)
    Dec 10 – Gillett arrives in Europe.
    Dec 11 – Marseille 4-0. Gillett watching maybe ready to sack Rafa on the spot if LFC lost. But they won. Rafa’s job was safe for now, but the owners were biding their time.
    Dec 13 – (Approx). Hicks arrives in England.
    Dec 16 – Man Utd 0-1. Hicks and Gillett had still not spoken to Rafa. United arrive to defend like last season. Get lucky goal and win. Post match meeting takes place, Rafa ordered to keep his mouth shut. Still no denial from HIcks and Gillett over the sacking rumours – which of course were finally admitted to by Hicks in January.

    Some other points – Rafa’s had the money to buy players of a standard much lower than United or Chelsea. He never said we were capable of winning the league with those players. We spent on a par with Spurs and West Ham – does anyone expect them to win the league?

    Whether Rafa stays or goes serious changes are needed to the way the club is run if the manager for 2008-09 is to be expected to win the league. No manager could be expected to win the league under the circumstances Rafa’s been under.

    It’s impossible to say if Rafa could have won the league this season had Hicks and Gillett backed him financially and personally throughout, but their lack of support in those areas made sure it wouldn’t happen.

    Sacking Rafa is not the magic key to us winning number 19.

  11. Well Jim, we can’t have the same excuses every time Liverpool perform poorly. I believe Rafa has done his maximum for the club and we can’t expect more from him now. Players like Kuyt, Crouch, Kewell, Pennant, Voronin and so many others are not for this club. We need better players if we are to become the best team. In short, we need a better coach and better players. Farewell Rafa and his hord of ineffective players.

  12. Fair enough Ravi, but players like those you mention are all we can afford.

    Maybe we can sell Kuyt for £7m, Crouch for £5m, Voronin for £1m and Pennant for £5m (Kewell’s out of contract so we’ll get nothing for him) and buy another striker not quite as good Torres with the money we get in. Maybe throw Riise in to give us the full price for a forward of the quality of Torres.

    Then we’ll have just two recognised strikers in the squad.

    Some say we should do that, and use reserve players as cover, but I’m not sure how well that would work.

    Whoever came in for Rafa would have to do deals like that too. The saying “You get what you pay for” applies strongly in football, unless you’re Newcastle in which case you probably pay a bit more than you should for what you get!

    We either need big investment in the playing squad, or to accept that our level is top four, with an outside chance of finishing higher depending on luck more than anything else.

    Expectations that we could win the league this season by buying one top quality player and some relatively expensive (but still no more than promising) youngsters were unreasonable.

    One question Ravi – did Liverpool perform poorly yesterday? Our goalkeeper wasn’t the best, theirs was. We hit the bar, had shots saved, shots just wide…

    This manager is being compared to Houllier, who had at least one season too many. He had six years in all, and we’ve still not completely offloaded all of his many failed signings. That’s in the getting on for four years since Rafa arrived. Houllier’s record and the fear of being overtaken by United for the race to number nineteen is adding to the urgency to lose the manager. That urgency means the next manager will be lucky to get two seasons before people are calling for his head.

    I’m not sure if Rafa’s head has been so done in by events that he’s capable any longer of taking us forward, even if he’s given the money. But people really need to stop assuming that another manager can perform miracles amidst unreasonable expectations.

    Let’s just hope that DIC’s move is completed soon – as now seems likely – and that their plans include a genuine commitment to boost transfer funds, and to provide backroom staff for their choice of manager.

    Support from the owners
    Support from the fans
    Support from the players

    Without that we’ll drop out of the top four permanently.

  13. I agree with jim .
    Support from the owners fans and players is what we need .
    id say we have 2 out of the 3 but they make no difference. the one we’re missing is the vital one. the owners
    the only way to be successful is to have a huge amount of financial backing and at the moment were not getting it.
    I do also hope that DIC will own the club before the end of the season but like the americans you will not know if they intend to flood the club with money or see us as an oppertunity to put in minimal money and sell on in a few years making a big profit.
    you cant get much worse than the americans but you still dont know

  14. Come on Jim……I give you a lot of credit for your articles but your defence of Rafa just doesn’t wash any more. He has absolutely no personal relationship with any of the players and seems hopelessly unable to motivate them. You talk about him not having enough money and fair enough he hasn’t had absurd sums to spend like Mourinho and Ferguson but he has still spent an awful lot of money on dross. Arsene Wenger got Fabregas, Adebayor, Flamini and numerous others for virtually nothing by having sound judgement about players. Rafa’s judgment is shocking. He paid £10 million for Kuyt who is embarrassingly bad (no pace and the first touch of an African elephant). Also I don’t think its fair to look at the Barnsley game as one off and try to rationalize it as a one off bit of bad luck. Since Benfica in early 2006 we have repeatedly been on top during games but failed to score because our attacking players (with the obvious exception of Torres) are woeful. I would have loved Rafa to succeed at Liverpool and supported him without reservation until I became convinced that he far too conservative to ever create a great team. Having said all of the above I still believe our first priority must be getting rid of Hicks and Gillett. Rafa and Rick Parry however have both outlived their time.

  15. Sorry Jim Rafa has lost the confidence of most fans because of his substituion tactics and crazy rotation policy, trying to blame the owners for that is not on. Yes the owners are responsible for a lot of the crap we the supporters have to put up with but the Barnsley game is down to Rafa.
    His response to Tommy Smith and others smacks of arrogance and I for one don’t like it, he is being paid big money and has never produced were it counts in the league.

  16. I am still on holiday but cananot keep away from all things liverpool fc.

    I have read every comment and have a question of my own for those who are calling on Rafa to go. Who exactly would replace him?

    Rafa has a CV that compares with any of the great recent managers.

    Ok he has not won the Premiership but he has done everything that United, Chelsea and Arsenal would love and that is to win the Champions League (and get to the final)

    Jim has a great point about the players he has bought. Many were not his first choice and were cheap. Who out of the other top 4 clubs would have been forced to buy Voronin? And to be fair to him, how many fans were berating Voronin at the start of the season? Not many.

    I say to everyone allowing themselves to build up a head of steam against Rafa to remember the great start to this years campaign and the turmoil thrown into it buy Hicks and Gillett and, I suspect, the worsening relationship between Rafa and Parry who also undermindedhim. Uncertainty does not lead to winning team, sorry lads.

    We need to stop blaming Rafas rotation policy. It would be great if he could field his best team all the time. The demands on players makes it difficult. Also keeping a top top squad togetherfor all the games is also difficult. Why do you think Itandje is in goal? Because Scott Carson did not want to stay on the bench……. (and remember, blame Itandje if it makes you feel better but Carson himself made a mistake for England so losing/making errors happens to us all)

    The substance of my support for Rafa still remains the same.

    I did not watch the game but from what I have read we dominated the game, had loads and loads of chances and when Matt Le Tizzier, sky pundit and no obvious friend of Rafa, says DO NOT BLAME RAFA – i think we need to act rationally and not emotionally.

    I do not want to say this BUT where would United be if they let Ferguson go when he had not won anything like Rafa after 4 seasons.

    Rafa is a great manager, not untouchable, but his record suggests he deserves another chance. He needs the summer to take stock – bring in/back backroom support – and then show us what he would have done if this season was not taken away from him.

    So, finally, my colours are firmly nailed to the mast, I want Rafa to stay and the Texan boy and his sidekick gone. Rafa to get the summer to regroup – as he more than anyone else will be cursing his lack of success – and show us what a great manager he is.

    In Rafa, I trust.

    In our fellow fans, I hope for some patience and understanding.

    In our current owners, I wish them out.

    In our future owners, I wish them in but only if they deliver on what they promise.

    And IF there is a new manager – and there should not be – I would love to see whether his track record is anywhere near Rafa and what would happen to the Spanish contingent of players and the plans Rafa was building within the youth set-up.

    In Rafa, I trust. Keep the faith.

  17. I’ve backed Rafa to the hilt and it was the yanks who derailed the season, however…

    The simple fact is that Rafa may be an expert tactician but after three and a half years we’re no closer to even having a playing style, let alone a winning team.

    Honestly, someone tell me – how do Liverpool play?

    Are we a short passing team?

    Are we a team that uses the wings?

    Do we use the counter attack?

    Are we dangerous at set pieces? (Itandje apart)

    It’s all very well being able to mix it up but first of all you need a basic pattern for the players to fit into (particularly when you’re chopping and changing them all the time).

    We shouldn’t be changing our team to counter the ‘strengths’ of the likes of Birmingham or Bolton.

    We should play OUR game to OUR strengths.. but sadly Rafa doesn’t seem to have a pattern of play.

    He collects players like chess pieces, one crosser, one tall guy, one fast guy, one dribbler – all different options to solve ‘tactical problems’. But put us up against a lesser side and Rafa just looks at his opta ‘fitness’ chart and throws these different options randomly onto the pitch in the hope that somehow they will know how to play together.

    But no matter the result, rotation, rotation, rotation – next game: no wingers, next game: no aerial precence, next game: no pace – how are we supposed to play like a team when there’s no game plan from week to week!

    Arsenal are a quick passing team, the mancs have pace and counter attacks, Chelsea play a defensive game with direct balls and set pieces. The players may change but the systems don’t.

    After three and a half years are we any closer to knowing what Rafa’s Liverpool is?

  18. In 5 or 6 years time, no one will remember we hit the bar, had shots saved, shots just wide… Every one will remember that we got beaten by a Championship side at Anfield. We once got beaten by some club (Worster?) in 1959. No one remembers the circumstances but the final result.

    It’s very sad to remember the countless useless players Gerard Houiller bought. As an ex French national coach I had expected that he could bring the elite of France national team to Liverpool but instead it was all waste.

    Rafa also has bought plenty of useless players, Nunez, Paletta, Insua and so many I can’t properly remember all those names. Each time he says that he buying for the future. How many younsters he has bought who have come in the first team. None. Look at Arsene Wenger.

    Do you remember the 1983-1984 season? Liverpool played approximately 64 matches with just 16 players.

    Everyone knows that we don’t change a winning team. Can someone ask Rafa whether he knows it?

    Why do we have to rest a goalkeeper? Does he have to run 12-13 kms per match? It’s ridiculous that Reina had to be rested. What’s the use of keeping so many clean sheets?

    Rafa makes too many silly decisions in matches. How can a manager play a left full back in midfield? It has happened so many times with Riise. Why does Rafa prefer Aurelio to Riise? May be Riise is not that good this season but Aurelio is no better.

    A good footballer has to learn to control a ball first. Have you seen what Crouch does in a match? He always gives a back pass and starts to run forward, He has more that 75 % of wrong passes. Do we expect him to score regularly?

    We have to admit Rafa has bought as many bad players as did Houiller.

    I don’t know who DIC will appoint as manager but I think we have to change everything in Liverpool. To start with the Sponsor. Eversince we have Calsberg, we haven’t won the title. The manufacturer of our jersey. Years ago, we had Umbro and we were winning like hell. Now it’s Man U with Umbro. The CEO, Rick Parry. What good has he done to our club? The time he takes to decide to buy a player, either another club has bought him or the price has nearly doubled.

    But let’s forget about 2007-2008, as if it never existed and let’s hope for a better future.

  19. Thanks Anfielder.

    The divisions in our support regarding Rafa are getting more and more polarised. Some despise him now, others love him but despise his tactics, some respect him and feel that he’s pretty close to getting the league success we’ve all yearned for since Kenny decided he couldn’t take it any more.

    Spending £9m on a striker is a risk – you get what you pay for. You’ve got to be lucky to find quality at that price in this day and age. Cisse was £14m, if that’s any indication. Crouch did a lot better than many expected, at least to start with, and to be attracting interest at £10m so soon after being bought for £7m suggests Rafa did well for the little bit of money he had.

    We got £8m for Michael Owen – and seeing as he was about to be made available on a Bosman that’s again an idea of how expensive decent strikers are. We couldn’t afford the £16m for him to buy him back, even if we’d wanted to.

    Arsene Wenger’s judgement wasn’t too good yesterday, in the FA Cup.

    As for judgement of players, it’s easy to list mistakes – Morientes one of the biggest ones – but don’t gloss over buys like Scott Carson, £750k, now valued by some at £10m. If Carson’s worth £10m, what’s Pepe worth? We paid £6m. Daniel Agger was just £5.6m, and despite him having a bad season thanks to injury, that fee is a fraction of what United paid for Rio Ferdinand. Our record fee for a defender is tiny compared to what defenders go for these days.

    Rafa is far from perfect, but neither was Alex Ferguson to start with at Old Trafford. In 1989 a banner was displayed at the theatre of prawns: “Three years of excuses and it’s still crap. Ta ra Fergie.” The owner of that no doubt keeps quiet these days.

    And comparing Rafa with Wenger or Ferguson is not going to help us find a new manager – they’re not available.

    Personally I think Rafa deserves a crack at the job again next season, fully backed by the owners and to make up for the mess of this season. But there’d be no room for excuses then, no room for blaming it on a lack of backing in the transfer market, no room for blaming it on being undermined from the boardroom.

    I’d rather that than bring in another manager who needs four years to take us those extra steps.

    If I’m honest, I don’t see it happening.

  20. Some great comments, and a lot of passion. We’re all after the same thing, success on the field. We’ve got owners who were after success in the wallett. Soon we might have owners who are after both. I say might, because we really don’t know. I know we won’t all agree on whether Rafa should stay or go, but sacking him now would achieve nothing. We’d finish outside of the UEFA places never mind top four.

    If we get new owners they will need to carry out a deep investigation into exactly how bad things are behind the scenes. And we can only hope they don’t use the same advisors that recommended Jurgen Klinsmann to Hicks and Gillett. Otherwise we’ll end up with Steve McLaren.

  21. Hang on Jim, before you thank Anfielder and the like,

    All this clamouring for Rafa to go is built on what exactly? Short-termism.

    Just reading Anfielders comment again – he talks about Wenger spoting buys like Adebayor and Flamini.

    May I remind him and others that Flamini was given a huge amount of stick and stuck playing right back for a while and was due to leave the club and was only kept as back-up. Now he has come good suddenly Wengers a genious. Wenger simply was given time to get things right, even though they have not won a trophy for a while.

    Adebayor was also slaughtered as a poor mans Kanu. Now, rightly, he is being applauded.

    We are not all going to agree on whether Rafa should be given time or not – In my view he deserves at least until Christmas. But tobe talking about Wenger and Ferguson like they have never made mistakes is ignorant of the facts.

    Rafa himself will be disappointed.

    Our response to the current situation will soon make some think we deserve Hicks and Gillett bby being so short-termists ourselves.

    The club is bigger than the manager, the CEO and the owners.

    But I do not hesitate for one minute in saying that Rafa wants the best for the Club and his record deserves more time.

    Keep the faith, or else why would any major star want to come to Liverpool if we are going to be so torn as a club, in management, ownership and the fans.

    In Rafa, I trust.

  22. 1 point I would like to make is this…….When Rafa won 2 la ligas with Valencia did he buy players that cost £20m each? I don’t think so yet he was up against 2 of the biggest if not the biggest clubs in the world,bigger than Chelsea ever was or ever will be. Yet those defending Rafa insist he hasn’t had the budget to buy the very top players ie £20m buys and thats why we lag behind.

    Its tosh the reason we lag behind is because we have a manager who is obsessed with the Champions League and with a rotation policy that just doesn’t work.Thats the bottom line with Rafa.

    It just doesn’t work.

    If DIC buy us then Rafa will be out. Too many times we have scraped into Europe and they won’t accept that.

  23. I am looking forward to Tuesday and the hope that the team will take away all of my anger and dispair with Rafa, because many of you make some good points about the man. I want to have the faith some of you seam to have but the fact is if we don’t come away with a great performance that will calm all of us down at least until the next game. I think more of you will come the conclusion as many of us have that Rafa’s days are numbered.

  24. Who is better than Rafa and available? Possibly Mourinho, and I’d say that was about it. Is that who you’re secretly hoping for? Or are you hoping Fergie’s gonna suddenly see the light and move down the East Lancs? Come on guys. So please stop calling for Rafa’s head, at least not yet.

    This season has been a write off for so many reasons. Its a bit harsh to judge Rafa and the team this time around. Let’s see how they go next season if he has the right backing and support, and maintains the respect of the players.

    Otherwise, I just hope he can swallow his pride. The jury is no longer out: rotation sucks.

  25. All you traitorous scum calling for Rafa’s head should feck off and support Chelsea. As for beggin for DIC to take over, pathetic. Talk about frying pan to fire. What happened to the Rogan Taylor initiative?

  26. A good exchange of views here on an exhaustive article. One point which was not mentioned but which I think is relevant to the “Hicks is softening” line is that the refinancing package is only for 18 months!
    On Rafa, I don’t think things are so bad that we should become a “sacking” club. The end of the season is the time to review the managers position. Sacking Rafa will disrupt the great work that has been done with the reserves and the academy as well as the 1st team squad. I have two beefs with Rafa. He still seems to stubbornly believe he is here to impose his vision on the english game and does not seem to have learned anything about playing lower rated teams. The second goal is the most important in games like the Barnsley game but he wont have it. Secondly he seems incabable of firing the players up to play beyond themselves. When this has happened it has come from players themselves. The body language is terrible at the moment, player to player as well as from the bench

  27. In response to midland red can I reiterate again that I like Rafa and would have loved him to succeed but I honestly don’t think he has a clue how to move us forward. A large part of his problem is that he is just far too conservative by nature to really build a great team.

    Can I just add in response to your valid question that I think the outstanding candidate to replace Benitez (I hope DIC are listening) would be Marcello Lippi. He has made it clear many times that he would like to coach in England and speaks much better English than Capello. Also he is a true gentleman who can take pressure in his stride without losing his grip on reality like so many managers (eg. Mourinho). He commands almost universal respect and admiration which is rare in the modern game. He would be loved by Liverpool fans and would I think enjoy the challenge. However there is no hope of Lippi or any other decent manager coming to Liverpool to work for Tom Hicks. But of course Hicks wouldn’t want a decent manager just a lackey who wouldn’t demand and money or resources for squad improvement.

  28. Marcello Lippi has always made it clear he doesn’t want to work in England as he speaks no English.

    Are you sure you aren’t Rick Parry, you’re as well informed as him.

  29. Very interesting article and (mostly) some very reasonable and well articulated comments.

    I’m afraid that I too have lost faith with Rafa. My first doubts started with the 0-0 at home to Birmingham followed by 2-4 to Reading back in Sept. But the game that tipped it over the edge for me was 0-0 at home to Wigan where we played with 1 striker, presumably because of the fearsome central defence pairing of Titus Bamble and Scharner.

    Other reasons for losing the faith:

    – we have quite clearly had a number of games where we either have lacked creativity from the wings or a lack of composure in front of goal. The games we’ve lost to inferior oppostion have generally been where we’ve dominated possession, but lacked the final incisive pass or cool finish. This leaves us open to the sucker punch from defensive counter attacking weaker teams. Yet instead of spending on a partner for Torres or creative wingers, we had at one time 5 top class central midfielders (yes even Sissoko was touted as top-class at one time). Compare a central midfield of Gerrard, Masch, Alonso, Leiva and Sissoko to the wide creative players of Kewell, Riise, Pennant, Babel and Benayoun. How many of our central midfielders would interest Barcelona or Real Madrid? Now ask the same question of our wide creative players. Does that look a little unbalanced to anyone?
    – Same question applies to our forward line, Crouch, Voronin, Torres and Kuyt. Where’s the pace and cool finishing necessary for the premiership? Again, it looks unbalanced, one world class, pacy finisher, one, slow, decent squad player and 2 slow, eager strikers who aren’t natural finishers. Where’s the balance?
    – questionable substitutions, many have been talked about previously
    -rotation. I actually agree with Rafa about rotation here. We can’t play our strongest team in 3 competitions, it doesn’t male sense because by the end of the season when you need a strong run they’re not at their best.. However I don’t agree with the way he does it. Rotating out our top striker whos in great form for a Premiership game against Reading? Surely against weaker oppostion in the Premiership you start with your strongest, on-form players. try and end the game within the hour and THEN you rest them? Regarding Itandje, to the question about rotating goalkeepers, yes its not necessary to rotate keepers but I think Rafa wanted to give his backup keeper some experience and exposure, and it could still pay off if Reina gets injured.
    – I think Dief makes a very good point about what is our
    system? I agree, I’m still not sure after 4 years. At least with Houllier we knew it was counter-attack. It was never going to win the Premiership but he had a plan and put players in place for it. Rafa seems to change tactics and formation every game in order to play against teams like Wigan and Middlesborough. This might have worked in Spain but here the weaker teams will sit back, flood the midfield and let us show them what we’ve got. If we have a different lineup/tactics for each team we play, then how do we expect our players to know what to do?
    – youth players. Yes we have a very good youth side and reserves, but after 4 years how many of them have come into the first team? Instead of needing to spend money on backup centre backs we should have been able to find a young centre back strong enough to face Havant and Barnsley by now surely. It’s not as if we haven’t backed Rafa when buying young players.
    – and finally I know all managers do it, but to hear the same tired excuses (we dominated, their keeper played a blinder, we deserved to win) after every game is becoming very wearing. It’s a cliche, but like most cliches probably true, that Liverpool supporters are amongst the most knowledgable and I think we deserve some honesty.. Just once I’d like to hear, yes we f**ked up, I’m going to give them a b*ll*king and we need another good striker and some creative wide players.

    To the question about who would replace Rafa? Agreed, there’s not much out there, I wouldn’t like to see Mourinho as I’ve already been bored to submission. What about Hiddink or Scolari both of whose contracts I believe are up at the end of Euro 2008 (although I may be wrong). Riikard is also rumoured to be leaving Barcelona although granted he probably wouldn’t want to join.

  30. Dennis, grats on a brilliant bit of analysis. You articulate a number of points very well. But I’m still with Rafa, I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt, at least for now.

    One comment you made stands out. You say:

    ‘The games we’ve lost to inferior oppostion have generally been where we’ve dominated possession, but lacked the final incisive pass or cool finish.’

    How long has LFC suffered from that one? It goes back years and years, certainly longer than Rafa. I watch a lot of Liverpool’s games and quite honestly, I think its rare the team’s outplayed (yeah maybe I’m biased, but that’s the way I see it). Certainly much rarer than the games we lose. So what’s the answer to that one? Is it just that playing for Liverpool brings its own anxiety, just like playing for the Mancs did in the eighties? If so, even more reason to get behind the team 100%, they’re under enough pressure as it is without the fans on their backs. End of season is the time to take stock.

  31. I think we need to be very careful of what we wish for.

    I don’t disagree that Lippi, Hiddink, Rijkard and to a lesser extent Scolari – though I cannot bring myself to want Mourinho – would do a decent job.

    BUT they will all want time, money and their own set-up.

    ‘OK – let them have it’, you may say. However do you honestly believe that any of them will win us anything in their first season or 2nd??? United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelone, Real Madrid, Inter etc. aren’t just going to give it to us.

    Rafa has done enough – certainly for me – to prove he is a top draw coach.

    Yes, we are lagging behind in the league. But I ask you all to look af yourselfs and ask if you had trouble at home, with the family or your boss would that not make you suffer?

    If you felt you were the best at what you can do – and then your boss not only questions your ability but intends to brings in someone with little to no experience, would that not shatter you?

    Come on guys. I feel a Newcastle moment coming along.

    We have a great coach who – for once in his recent life – may not reach a cup final or not win a league. Rafa is certainly hurting as much as we are, that’s for sure.

    Rafa’s record stands-up to most, if not all. Yes he has weaknesses. But he is a winner.

    Regardless of tonight – and yes, i did say that – Rafa must be given his confidence back. The team must see the stability around them. The board is what needs to sort itself out. The fans, in my view, must continue to show its support for the manager.

    Liverpool FC is bigger than all of us but if it will crumble if every building block – from boardroom to the pitch to the stands – shows cracks and continue to bicker.

    For sure, be careful what you wish for and If we are not united then we will fail.

    In Rafa, I trust.

  32. Good points by all. However, I feel we have had this same discussion last season – one more year, benefit of the doubt … etc. Do we really want to be having it again next year??

  33. Sorry Tracey, but your information about Lippi is 100% wrong. I’ve heard the man speaking English better than most English people do. I suppose him putting himself up for the England job is an example of himg not being interested in coaching in England. Your information makes your comments about as reliable as Tom Hicks/Steve McManaman.

  34. While we are having a go at Rafa, those of us who are old enough to remember, can think back to when our Original GOD Bill Shankly went 7 years without winning a carrot. We all stood by him , and the rest they say is history.Something Chelski know nowt about!!!!!

  35. I read with some relief that DIC are still in discussions with Hicks & Gillet about a possible takeover.

    If Hicks & Gillet want to consider what is best for LFC they should agree to sell at a reasonable price because, the fans have clearly made known their opinion of what they think of the Americans following their betrayal of what they had said upon buying the club and the subsequent goings on. Whether the off field activities have had a bad affect on the team is up for debate, but certainly the team has lost form. A change to DIC would at least give everybody a new start and that is very important..

    If Hicks & Gillet do not sell it can only be about profit/money and not the welfare of LFC.

    One thing is for sure, DIC do have the resources to take LFC forward and it is extremely doubtful that the Americans have the financial resources, given that they could not even afford to buy the club without borrowing the money and then placing the interest and other financial charges on the club

    Please Hicks & Gillet do the right thing by LFC and sell , but only for a reasonable profit and not highway robbery.

  36. Personally think we have a couple of issues that have caused our poor season.

    #1 Pako leaving is the primary reason. He was the motivator and link to the players that Rafa lacks, which is why we don’t motivate our players. He was also the sounding board and would be able to tell Rafa when to rest players and be the voice of reason Rafa now lacks when selecting teams.

    #2 Owners obviously causing friction. The fact Rafa came out and annouced tension in the camp was the only way he could highlight the issues. How long had trouble been brewing, a lot longer than many of us realize. Players will have known about this also, so their morale and form took a big hit early on in the season.

    Rather than discuss sacking Rafa, who possesses a sound resume, we should be looking at getting in a strong number two. Roy Evans or Sammy Lee, one of the old guard would work in my mind. I doubt Roy would go for the lowly number 2 slot and Sammy is fighting Bolton right now over his contract, but they’re the type of characters we sorely miss right now. I was hoping to hear Gary Mac would be joining as number 2, but of course he’s gone elsewhere now. What about Phil Thompson, now he had passion and really fired up the team. He would be someone to consider??

    #2 again – Returning to the owners – causing friction will put off potential suitors. Who would want to join a club with this sort of uncertainty? Certainly not an assistant manager who might only be there for the duration of Rafa’s stay? The same is also true of players, even if we had money, even if we bypass Parry with his ridiculous dithering and sign top class player/s (one’s like Vidic whom Rafa was after well before Man U got their claws into him), would the actual players want to join LFC right now?? I doubt it.

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