Possibly the only man that all Liverpool fans would give their unconditional trust to has spoken out about the situation the club finds itself in as the season draws to a close.
Kenny Dalglish, a legend as a player, a manager and a man says that it’s time to stop apportioning blame and time to start finding solutions.
Speaking in the club’s official weekly magazine, LFC, “King” Kenny said: “The current impasse cannot continue much longer.”
He said that the end to this season Champions’ League run would at least now allow all those involved in the ownership fight to sort out their differences: “If you are looking for a positive to extract from the negatives then maybe the absence of a final appearance in Moscow will allow all sides in the current boardroom battle to sit down and work out a solution that is best for this football club.”
Rafa Benítez has reportedly got very limited funds for transfers this summer, because the current owners are looking at ways of ending their partnership rather than strengthen it. But it’s not just about money, Kenny suggests the squabbling will put players off joining too: “Players around Europe are starting to look at where they want to play next season, and it is not fair for Rafa Benitez to try to enter negotiations with an arm behind his back. On the field we are an attractive proposition. Off it you would have reservations about coming here while there is still issues to be resolved.”
It does seem that the owners have at least agreed on a budget, albeit a small one, and with that now set the onus is on Rick Parry, in his role as CEO, to try and thrash out deals with clubs for Rafa’s targets. But Kenny is worried that might not be how it all works out: “How does Rafa get the sign-off to go after a player? Who signs it off and who negotiates the deal to a conclusion?”
DIC have let it be known for some time that they expect to be able to force a resolution by the end of May, but there are so many conflicting claims it is difficult to be certain of just what it is that is significant about May, and what gives them such confidence. George Gillett hasn’t made any indication he’s going to go back on his vow not to sell to Tom Hicks, and Tom Hicks remains firm in his stance that he’ll raise the finance to buy Gillett out, will block any sale to DIC by Gillett, and will not sell his own half to DIC. Kenny said: “I hope it is resolved sooner rather than later.” But there remains a possibility that this could drag on well into the new season, which is one reason Rafa Benítez has been pushing for negotiations to get under way as soon as possible with what funds he does have.
Both owners have spoken about their desire to see decisions made for the good of the club, and Kenny had a challenge for them – prove it: “Both Tom Hicks and George Gillett declared that Liverpool FC meant more to them than an investment for financial gain. Now is the time for them to prove it – blame for the situation we find ourselves in helps no-one.”
Kenny wants a resolution found in time for Rafa to have most of his summer signings in place by mid-July: “All that matters is that we arrive at a workable solution that lets the manager get the bulk of his new players in before pre-season starts.”
Rafa may well get that – but whether that is based on the budget handed out under a new ownership structure or the one available now remains to be seen.
Kenny also spoke separately to uefa.com, and was asked what he felt the positives for LFC and the manager were from this season: “Torres is a huge positive,” he said. “In his first year, he hit over 30 goals – a magnificent return. He is finding the position that Steven Gerrard likes to play in and enjoys playing his contributions from. So that’s two pluses. I think every day that goes by, every game that goes by and every season that goes by, you learn something and I’m sure Rafa learnt a lot from this year. And next year, they’ll be looking to improve on it.”
He was also asked what he felt the club had to do in order to push as strongly for the league as they do for the Champions’ League: “They can compete in the Premier League but they are just not competing at the level they’d like to. I think they had a bad November when they drew too many games and I feel they threw away too many points against the top teams and fell too far behind.”
He was reluctant to compare the relationship between Torres and Gerrard to the one he had with Liverpool’s number nine of old, Ian Rush: “I don’t think a comparison should be made because it would give them the wrong identity. There is no point comparing Gerrard and Torres with Ian Rush and myself. Everybody’s different, they are all individuals and they form a very good partnership. The contribution both of them have made this year has been massive for Liverpool. But I don’t think it’s fair to compare them to myself and Rushy.”