“……At the End of the Storm, there’s a Golden sky,
And the sweet silver song of the Lark…..”
The everlasting lines from the immortal kop anthem have never meant more to any Liverpool supporter. After enduring a nightmare season and parting ways with the only manager that has brought true joy to them in the last 20 years, the Anfield faithful have been desperately praying and hoping for a tinge of that golden sky on the horizon.
History of this great club need not be reminded. There is no need to justify the pride one feels while wearing the revered jersey of the Reds. However, the fact remains that a whole generation of fans has grown up watching this legendary club do its utmost to win their 19th English crown, only to falter at crucial moments in some, while limping far behind the champions in most other seasons. Their ability to believe was restored by a Spanish genius who planted his legacy in Liverpool’s folklore after that one night in Istanbul. He brought the club closer to winning the elusive Premier league than any other man in the last 20 years.
But so atrocious was the year 2009-10 for the Reds that the man who secured a second place finish only a year ago had become the major source of disillusionment for the players and fans alike. A seventh place finish in the league and early exits from all the cup competitions made it one of the worst seasons ever for anyone supporting the Reds.
The famous Kop
Off the pitch matters have also reached an all time low. Under the Americans, Hicks and Gillett, LFC’s finances have plummeted to unimaginable depths. But there was a soothing announcement in April this year when Martin Broughton was brought in to oversee the sale of the club. The potential interest of six to seven parties in buying the club was doing the rounds and the mood around the club would have been so much jollier today had any one of them materialized. The prospect of the club’s sale has hardly been in news until recently when Chinese businessman Kenny Huang made a bid to the RBS to buy the club’s £237 million debt. Mr. Gillett, meanwhile, has told RBS that he is in advanced negotiations with Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi. Whoever succeeds in buying the club, the fans would be hoping that Hodgson will have enough time and money available to lure talented players to LFC.
All this has made the transfer summer of 2010 one of the most important transfer seasons in the club’s history. On this summer hinges the future of the club’s financial stability, its reputation as a footballing superpower and also the future of some truly great Liverpool legends. Let’s have a look at how Liverpool Football club have fared so far in the transfer market.
Every end signals a new beginning..
Rafael Benitez had already cemented his place in the annals of LFC history with his exploits. But even he knew it was time to move on. The Spanish Gaffer had tried everything he could under the grasp of the Americans but in the end he had only a Runner’s up medal to show for it in the league. Reluctantly, the club and the fans let him go, wishing him the best of luck in future endeavours and hoping not to come up against him in Europe. For the record, Rafael Benitez has his place assured alongside Paisley, Shankly, Fagan and Dalglish in Liverpool history as a legend.
Rafa was still among the elite
The English press was never kind to Benitez; often taking his comments out of context and portraying him as stubborn and arrogant. However, the new man hired for the hot seat couldn’t be more opposite. Roy Hodgson is nothing short of a media darling with one of the most polite and charming demeanours you’ll ever find in an English manager. The English press, who fondly call him Uncle Woy, was quick to heap praises on the LFC management for this righteous appointment.
The man, who has often been dubbed as the nicest man in football, has a credible record as a manager. He is credited, along with ex-Indian national team manager Bob Houghton, as the person who transformed the landscape of Swedish football; winning the league championships no less than 6 times with 2 different teams. He also tasted moderate success with Inter Milan and FC Copenhagen. But he was better known for leading Switzerland to being the third ranked team in the world before he went on that miracle run with Fulham last year taking the Cottagers to the Europa League finals.
Uncle Woy happy with colour Red!
But did these achievements really deserve to be awarded with one of the most prestigious jobs in club football? The jury is still out on that with many claiming the appointment signified a loss in ambition for the club. Majority of the fans seem to have agreed with the decision, with the rest starting to support him acknowledging the fact that it could be a lot worse.
No surprise who the biggest name is to arrive at Anfield this summer so far. Once a true blue, Joe Cole was released by Chelsea and was snapped up by Hodgson as one of his first and biggest signings. This transfer surprised the media and the fans alike, as there were no strong rumours leading up to his signing. Always touted as the most skillful English player of his generation, Cole has won the Premiership thrice with Chelsea and will provide Liverpool with much needed pace and guile down the wings. His partnership with Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres could develop to be one of the most feared in the league and the Reds’ fans will be hoping to see some cracking goals from the cockney lad. Cole has signed a four year deal with the Reds.
Source of hope for Liverpool supporters..
The Serbian International, popularly known as “The Snake” by the Standard Liege supporters, was already in talks with the club when Benitez was at the helm. Rafa’s departure however did little to dissuade the former Belgian Footballer of the Year from signing a three year deal with LFC. Jovanovich is a very talented and versatile player and can play as a striker and a left winger. Fans will be hoping to see him strengthen the left flank which has been a major worry in recent seasons as well as chip in with a few goals. Not too much to expect from Serbia’s top scorer in World Cup Qualifying, is it?
The 18-yr-old central defender signed a three-year deal with LFC for £2 million after completing a victorious season with Glasgow Rangers. He was given the ‘Young Player of the year’ award for his solid performance in the Rangers’ title winning campaign and is widely regarded as one of the best young talents in Britain. With Carragher looking a bit shaky nowadays, it could prove to be an inspired move.
The highly rated 18-yr-old English midfielder signed with LFC for a fee of £1.7 million (initially) after becoming the youngest player to play for Charlton Athletic. He is part of the long term development plan at Anfield and his being English is an added advantage.
The left back was released in May following the expiry of his contract. However upon learning that he hadn’t found a new club, Hodgson asked him to come and train at Melwood with the team so that he and his staff could analyze him. Hodgson was quite impressed with him and offered him a two year extension till 2012.
L to R: Milan Jovanovic, Danny Wilson, Roy Hodgson and Joe Cole
No longer Reds…
The Spanish winger was certain to leave the club after his public outburst against Benitez last season. The change in management didn’t alter his decision and he was transferred to the Greek side Olympiakos for an undisclosed fee after they made an offer for him.
The Israeli international apparently had a fallout with Benitez and made his interest to leave the club public in an interview. Chelsea came calling with a £6million offer and Yossi jumped at the chance. Benayoun was an important player in the side and his ability to unlock defences (especially of ‘lesser’ teams) will be sorely missed.
Other low profile departures..
-24-year-old goalkeeper David Martin moved to MK Dons on a free transfer.
-22-year-old left back Robbie Threlfall was released and has signed a permanent contract with Bradford City.
-21-year-old defender Mikel San Jose has moved to Athletic Bilbao for an undisclosed fee.
LIVERPOOL RUMOUR MILL
Javier Mascherano to Inter Milan
According the latest reports, Mascherano had wanted to leave the club as back as last summer when he was attracting interest from Barca and Inter. But with Benitez gone now, he is almost certain to leave, most likely back to his old boss at Inter Milan. The reported transfer fee is of the order of £25million which will be highly useful in the hands of Hodgson who’s already started to look for his replacement.
TheHardTackle’s probability verdict: HIGH
Emiliano Insua to Fiorentina
Liverpool had accepted an undiscosed fee from Fiorentina for the services of the Argentine left back. But talks seem to have been stuck now with Fiorentina not willing to meet his personal demands and if rumours are to be believed Insua will catch up with the Liverpool team for the friendlies soon. But the two parties in all probability will settle this dispute as the major negotiations have already been done.
TheHardTackle’s probability verdict: HIGH
The right back has been told to look for a new club after talks with the new manager and will most likely be picked up by Olympique De Marseille who had shown interest in him even before his talks with Hodgson.
TheHardTackle’s probability verdict: HIGH
Meanwhile, Maxi Rodriguez has also been linked with a move back to Spain following Rafa’s exit and Dani Pacheco has been linked to La Liga side Real Sociedad.
Christian Poulsen – Juventus
Juventus general director Giuseppe Marotta has claimed that Liverpool wants to sign the defensive midfielder. According to recent reports Hodgson has also confirmed his interest in the Dane as a direct replacement for Javier Mascherano who’s almost certain to leave.
TheHardTackle’s probability verdict: HIGH
Loic Remy – Nice
The 23-year-old Nice striker has been linked to a host of clubs including West Ham, Arsenal and Lyon along with Liverpool. His agent has claimed that he’s desperate to move to Liverpool. But he’s an agent. So it’s hardly a measure of the player’s actual plans. Will be a good acquisition if LFC do manage to get his signature but he’s likely to remain in France with a host of home clubs pursuing him.
TheHardTackle’s probability verdict: Medium
Maynor Figueroa – Wigan
The scorer of the ‘Goal of the season’ last year has been linked with a move to LFC for quite some time now with his agent (surprise surprise) claiming the deal is almost in place. He’ll be looking to slot into the left back position at Anfield.
TheHardTackle’s probability verdict: Medium
–Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven) and Jorge Fucile (FC Porto) for left back.
–Steven Defour (Standard Liege), Stiliyan Petrov (Aston Villa), Scott Parker (West Ham), Marek Hamsik (Napoli) and Sulley Muntari (Inter, straight swap with Mascherano) for the defensive midfield role.
No confirmed news on any of these link-ups except the usual tabloid reports that often circulate in the silly season.
For LFC though, the biggest news this summer has been the news of Steven Gerrard opting to stay and Fernando Torres also acknowledging that he would like to remain at the ‘Best Club’ in England. A good defensive midfielder and a left back are the priority now. And whoever else comes or goes, realistically, LFC will be looking for a comfortable top 4 finish come the end of the season to get into the Champions League. And without it’s distraction this year, maybe it’s finally the right time to aim for the top of the league and pull out the major resources week in week out to achieve the consistency which is rarely associated with Liverpool.
“This Year Will Be Our Year!” – the hope returns…
” Their ability to believe was restored by a Spanish genius ” … LOLing.. genuis.. more like a clown!!
@FSW : Clown? Really?
The only manager to win the LA Liga with a team outside of the big 2 in Spain in the last decade. Twice.
Only the 3rd manager to win UEFA Cup and UEFA CL in successive seasons.
I could go on….u can probably google his achievements urself. What I’m trying to say is, dont blindly believe everything the English media tells you.
Ohh comeon Kris… Rafa made a mockery of himself at Pool… accept it mate!!!
Rival fans only hoped against hope that Rafa stays at Pool forever and ever… remember the KRAP campaign??? Keep Rafa AT Pool… Lol 😉
The only manager to win the LA Liga with a team outside of the big 2 in Spain … Big Deal.. huh? barca and madrid were poor back then.. they even finished 3rd and 4th so i dnt know what you on about?? Hell Barca just about managed to qualify for the UCL on the last day and the squad inherited by that a** clown F**in Benitez at Valencia was aweome. The only manager capable of bringing a squad that came 2nd in the previous season to the dizzing heights of 7th!!
Rafa u were a disgrace, even f#ckin Souness before Rafa anytime
“For the record, Rafael Benitez has his place assured alongside Paisley, Shankly, Fagan and Dalglish in Liverpool history as a legend.” Ohh my effing gawd!!!! what is wrong with you.. ehh?? what are you on mate.. seriously, i think Shankly just woke up in his grave.
hope he does better than playing 9 defensive players on the pitch and hoofing it up to Torres to chase it like Senayour Benitez. As a poo fan its almost beyond me how some fellow supporters allowed themselves to get manipulted by that Spanish Cnut. Lets hope Hodgson plays football for a change.
Best of Luck Inter Milan – From One of the best managers to one of the worst
@Kopite since 1985 – Would u care to remember how many times LFC got into The Champions League b/w 1985 and before Rafa came in?
A grand total of two times (1 QF exit and 1 group stage exit.) After Rafa came in, we got into five consecutive CLs, winning one and being finalists in 07. For me it was a pretty darn good achievement considering he made us the most feared opponents in Europe again after a long time (I’m not giving my opinion here, LFC was ranked No. 1 in Europe based on it’s exploits in the CL at one point of time.)
“The only manager capable of bringing a squad that came 2nd in the previous season to the dizzing heights of 7th!! ” – You make it seem like it was someone else who placed LFC up into 2nd and Rafa just came along and ruined it.
I fail to understand how exactly he was a disgrace, when he provided a marked improvement in Europe and was better than Houllier (his predecessor) in PL. And whatever credibility u had to your comments just got ruined when u compared him to Souness. To use ur phrase, Souness took us to the ‘dizzying heights’ of 6th and 8th in the early 90s.
@Soccerfan – I don’t care about how other fans thought of him. I really don’t.
@Go Stevie – The best manager you refer to couldn’t get one past him in Europe. So he can’t be that bad, can he?
Rafa achieved what no one could, he bought United and Pool fans together, both set of fans wanted him to stay but alas the KRAP campaign failed 🙁 . His last season was comical at times, those substitutions (subbing Toress off when the team was drawing or loosing) were hillarious to say the least
As an Inter fan I really dread the beginning of Rafa Benitez era. Lets face it he was disaster at Pool. Had it not been for that extremely lucky 2005 CL campaign ( A very legitimate Del Pierro goal disallowed in QF, a very controversial goal in semis and Milan somehow conspiring to self-destruct in finals), Rafa would have been sacked a year or two earlier.
Careerwise his move to Nerazzurri is another stupid move in my opinion. Lets face it, he has inherited the team which is in Jose Mourinho’s image. The team which has acquired a swagger in Europe too. The team has won 5 consecutive scudetti even before his arrival (4 on pitch). Under Rafa, if Inter win the next scudetto, it is no big deal, as everything has been provided in a platter to him.
He has got the best squad in the league, a winning mentality drilled in by two successive managers, and the closest challengers still playing the catch up game. And most importantly he would be the ONLY coach in the league with the experience of winning the title.
But if he fails to win the scudetto, whatever is left of his reputation it will be in tatters. It is a case of Heads I don’t win, but tails I lose. Under no circumstances will he emerge from the two year reign as a winner. But he has every chance to be a loser in terms of reputation.
@Arvind – In fact Rafa was extremely lucky… for some strange reason (luck) the ball crossed the line thrice in 6 mins in that 2005 final…. and then somehow (luck) Liverpool made it to the finals again after 2 years and then luckily to the semis the next time around… and they were even luckier to have their best domestic season in more than a a decade(2008-09) under Rafa.. and prior to LFC this lucky chap had managed to luck his way to titles in Span as well..
And I also agree about Inter, they don’t even need a manager… the swagger should be enough to carry them through to at least 10 more titles…
@Arvind: Your ‘luck’ reference is so childish and pathetic that it should basically discard all of your opinions thus far, and the future ones.
But I will specifically counter-act it with some incidents of my own, so that you don’t use these again in the future and stuff them well up your throat….
Reference 2005: Controversial goal in the semi-final against Chelsea.
If Luis Garcia hadn’t followed it in, it would have been a penalty and red card to Petr Cech for fouling Milan Baros. You have conveniently ignored that.
Reference 2010: Samuel fouled Kalou at the San Siro – Should have been a penalty and a red card. Nothing given. Luck, no?
Reference 2005: Milan self-destructed?
I guess I missed the part where Milan passed around the ball and slotted it into their own net three times in six minutes. Liverpool players had no part to play in it.
Reference 2010: Dynamo Kyiv self-destructed to lose 2-1 in the dying minutes. By your logic, that was luck. Inter had no part in it.
Reference 2005: Del Piero goal disallowed
Reference 2010: Barca goal disallowed at the Nou Camp
Toure was too close to get out of the way and didn’t even have his arms away from the body. It ricocheted to Bojan, who scored but it was adjudged to be a handball.
I don’t even want to go into points like…when Gattuso conceded a penalty in the Istanbul final, he was the last man and should have been sent off.
To talk about ‘luck’ being a fan of a club, who has risen from the shadows of their rivals and won leagues only after a scandal and not because their team was better at the time, is pretty shocking. The arrogance of a club who became more about their manager last season rather than the club itself, is pretty shocking too.
Anyway, I wish Rafa had gone some place where he could be more appreciated.
But I am sure you can attribute his failures at Inter to BAD LUCK, no?
I suggest you read this article…
lets end this debate by concluding that the EPL will be a poorer place without RAFA, he gave us so many moments to just laugh our asses off!! 😀 , ohh what a clown!
@ FSW – Lolzzz…
I guess Red Devils will miss Rafa more than the Kopites!!! 😉
Touched a raw nerve somewhere. I apologize 😛 or Not I should say.
Let me get back to you point by point
1) Penalty and a man sent off IS NOT SAME as a ghost goal. I thought the Uruguay Ghana World cup game taught us that much about football.
2) Milan Self destructed after being 3-0 up at halftime. Google yourself to tell me how many times in a major competition, has a team lost from that position. The answer would be closer to Zero. And how many times has a team lost after leading 1-0 up at 84th minute. Comparative numbers should be easy to understand. If that is the best argument you can come up with… I can only pity.
3) Del Pierro goal disallowed is not SAME as being forced to play with 10 men against the best attack in the world for more than 1 hour because of some ludicrous playacting. How come our detractors conveniently forget that part?
Having said that I will NOT DENY that Inter were lucky.Winning a cup competition requires its quota of luck to win, and we had our share this year. Inter’s share of luck came NOT from referees, but from the fact that against EACH of the big team they faced, the opponents missed a key player who could have made the difference. Essien was out when Inter played Chelsea, Iniesta for Barcelona and Ribery for Bayern Munich during the games. Each of the player could have been the difference between win and a loss. Is there a word better than Luck to describe that?
Bar the 2005 triumph, what did he achieve after spending tons of money? A measly FA Cup. If that classifies as great achievements, I rest my case. 5th, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 7th. Heck even Houllier didn’t finish that low.
@Rohit: Yeah he had the best season in 10 years, but for someone who was leading the table in March, it was a miserable failure.
Finally every single one of Inter fans know that Calciopoli played the catalyst in our rise. What was a 5 year project got a sudden fillip. We know to call a spade a spade.
The question was on whether Rafa can ever match the charismatic Jose at Inter. He has a champions squad at his disposal. Nobody will give a damn if he wins another title with Inter. But if he fails, he will make a clown of himself in the second consecutive club.
Finally for heavens sake don’t compare Jose with Rafa. The former is a legend while Rafa is well Rafa.
Liverpool have confirmed that Philipp Degen has joined VfB Stuttgart on loan until the end of the 2010-11 season.
Alright. Let’s clear up some stuff here.
Neither do I want to nor should I tell you how to feel about the appointment of Rafa at Inter. It’s your club and you have a right to worry about it.
However, the disturbing trend here, or anywhere for that matter, is to blame Rafa for the poor season last year and pretty much everything else happening at the club, but stop short of giving him credit for whatever success he had at the club. If you wanna blame him atleast be consistent in meting out credit to him as well and don’t bring in the luck factor argument.
The ‘luck’ argument is so lame that I’m amazed that it is even brought up in discussions between rational human beings. It depends on how many lucky events you can throw at your opponent and that is a never ending argument. I for one would consider Inzaghi scoring a goal with his chest that he barely knew about in 07 finals more lucky than Liverpool coming back from 3-0 down to score 3 goals which were intended to be on target.
“Google yourself to tell me how many times in a major competition, has a team lost from that position. ”
So you mean to say that any team that goes down 3-0 at half time should resign to defeat unless their
opponents self destruct? I would say Liverpool self-destructed in the first half and came back into their own in the second half. It’s as good as your argument.
And for the record, Houllier did not do better than Rafa in the PL. His standings were 7th, 4th, 3th, 2th, 5th and 4th…..which is slightly worse than Benitez. These things get taken up as facts if not clarified.
Let me answer your part on Houllier, who for most if not all Liverpool fans is an epitome of mediocrity/incompetence. He finished 7th in his first season when, he had to share managerial duties with Roy Evans. In his 5 full seasons at Pool, his league finishes have been as good (or as bad) as Rafa. Yet the latter seems to be put in some sort of saintly pedestal. Now why not be objective? Yes Rafa got Liverpool the best (points) tally in 2009. But for most non-Liverpool fans it was a case of shooting themselves in the foot, after being far ahead of the pack in March.
Now for the disastrous 2009-10 season. Is it not Rafa’s fault that he had antagonized Alonso a year before so much that he showed him the middle finger the moment he got a chance. Whose fault is it to sign replacement in form of perma-croak Aquilani. Anyone who has watched Italy would have told that Aquilani had never played 6 months without suffering one of his many injuries.
Now let me answer the luck part. In a cup competition, every team on a winning run has moments of good fortune. I will gladly admit Inter had it. But not even the losing clubs begrudged the fact that Inter won, because they were the better team, in-spite of getting having some questionable decisions go in their favor.
Now take your 2005 winning run. What would you call a team who were outplayed in three consecutive games, yet came out victors? Divine providence maybe? Yes Liverpool scored 3 goals in the finals, but can you deny that Liverpool were comprehensively outplayed for 110 minutes out of 120. How many times have you seen Jerzey Dudek of all goalkeepers play like that in his life? I see more than a fair share of luck in that, even though the win was over Inter’s hated rivals. In the end, records speak and Rafa got his winners medal, but if I were to be subjective enough, I wouldn’t read too much into the win.
The final question was had it not been for the 2005 win, would Rafa lasted that long with Liverpool? Remove the Champions league win of 05 and what were you staring at? A 5th place finish and no CL next season ? For first 4 seasons, Rafa’s Liverpool didn’t come anywhere close to challenging for league title which the fans desperately craved. And he didn’t have the excuse of not enough money available, he comprehensively outspent 17 clubs in that time.
I will also admit, he did phenomenally well at Valencia, with 2 La-Liga and a UEFA Cup. But then he took over a very settled team which had reached back to back CL finals under Hector Cuper. He wasn’t responsible for signings as it was the prerogative of a director of sport . The scale of challenge he faced at Valencia, was far limited compared to the challenge at Liverpool.
Mate, you are seriously mistaken if you think Milan ‘comprahensively outplayed’ us for 110 mins. Yes, they played the most stunning football but both the teams almost shared equal possession. Liverpool played the dogged English game so it didnt seem like we were in it. I’m not averse to admitting that we had a little bit of luck on our way to the final. But I would never put a player’s performance just down to luck. Jersy Dudek, contrary to what many people think, wasn’t just great during extra time and penalties. He produced wonderful saves throughout the match and that can’t be just put down to luck.
And if you are objective enough, you can’t help but praise Rafa. After all it was after his pep talk at half-time that Liverpool levelled the scores within 15 min of the restart.
And nowhere in my post did I hail Houllier’s or Rafa’s PL term as glorious. You are right, both were pretty mediocre by LFC’s high standards. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that Rafa’s term was slightly better and I was just clarifying that.
He is put on a saintly padestal because of his Champions League pedegree and the overall turnaround the club experienced after he joined it. After Houllier left, most fans were dismayed about what could realistically be achieved the next season. Michael Owen had left and there were strong rumours about Stevie G leaving too. And what did he do? He came and won us the biggest prize of them all, The Champions League. And it was the fifth time so it was extra special. There is no equal for the remarkable change in emotions that LFC fans felt that season.
Yes, I was pretty pissed at him for driving Alonso away. But we can’t overlook the fact that it was he brought players like Alonso to Anfield. I wouldn’t say he fully nurtured Alonso to become the player he is today but Rafa did play a major part in his development and Alonso did play his best football at Liverpool. He can take considerable credit for turning Gerrard into a 20 goals a season man and getting the best out of Jamie Carragher in his best position, both players who have recently been inducted into the Liverpool FC Hall of Fame.
He made a lot of mistakes in his tenure and I’m not denying any of that. I’m not saying he was right in substituting Torres at St.Andrews or sticking to his rotation policy week in week out. He made mistakes and he paid for it.
But will I remember him for signing perma-crocked Aquilani? Or for driving away Alonso?
No. I remember him for the man who made us a force in Europe again and who took us to the next level after we were languishingin mediocrity after the 90s.
Christian Poulsen joins the Reds on a three-year deal worth £4.5 million
Juventus link – http://www.juventus.com/site/eng/NEWS_newseventi_6B05B5C7DA694CBB9A4ACEEE01864F05.asp
I think you make a very valid point… Rafa can probably go back to Spain and name ‘luck’ as his caretaker manager…that should be enough for Inter this season…. obviously combined with Inter’s absolutely brilliant ability to call a spade a spade.