Pepe Reina: Rafa Benitez is the coach who made me

LIVERPOOL goalkeeper Pepe Reina has called for a return to Anfield for former boss Rafa Benitez.

Before news broke that Liverpool had offered Brendan Rodgers a three-year contract to become the Reds’ manager, Reina told Spanish radio that he felt Rafa Benitez was the “ideal” choice for the role.

Speaking to Radio Marca, Reina said:

“The truth is that they have sounded out a lot of coaches [for Liverpool FC].

“Obviously whoever it is will be welcomed at the club but Rafa Benitez, for me, is the coach who made me and I cannot be objective about him because, for me and, I believe, for a lot of my team mates, he is the best and in my opinion would be the ideal candidate.”

Liverpool are expected to confirm the appointment of Rodgers soon, but it remains unclear whether Liverpool will, as has been extensively reported, bring in a sporting director. With the manager’s position now filled, some would like to see Rafael Benitez considered for such a role, but with FSG stubbornly refusing to even speak to Benitez it does seem that Pepe and his team mates will not be given that chance to work again at Anfield with the man they clearly have much respect for.

Rodgers will be made welcome at Anfield, of that there is no doubt, but only time will tell if FSG come to regret taking that advice to not even speak to Benitez.

Whoever gave them that advice certainly doesn’t seem to be speaking for all the club’s senior players. With Martin Skrtel reportedly considering his own future in light of the club’s difficulties in recent seasons Rodgers may have a fair amount of work to do with his new squad, many of whom are currently on international duty and will no doubt listening to tales of greener grass at their international team mates’ clubs.

In 2010 the club changed manager when the players were away on World Cup duty and it was Christian Purslow reportedly going out to see the players to convince them everything was going to be okay. It clearly didn’t work and no doubt played a part in the departures of Javier Mascherano and, later, Fernando Torres – whatever the overall reasons were.  When Liverpool changed manager in 2004 Rafa Benitez got permission to speak to Liverpool’s England contingent as that change was announced during that year’s European Championships. Benitez surprised some supporters by singling out Jamie Carragher – then a full-back with an uncertain Anfield future – as a key part of his plans.

It obviously remains to be seen which players Brendan Rodgers – or that sporting director should one be appointed – sees as vital to this version of Liverpool’s future.

 

Brendan Rodgers, welcome to Anfield.

ONE day Liverpool won the league. It was the eighteenth time they’d done it. The reaction was the same as always – delight but perhaps too much of a sense of it all being the norm. Liverpool always won something, give or take a couple of seasons, and the something was usually that trophy or that great big one that used to belong to UEFA.

A year later and Liverpool hadn’t won the league. The last manager to win it had gone (although he’d win it again elsewhere) and changes would begin that would see the end of all those years of glory that fans really had been taking for granted. Even when Liverpool didn’t win the league they’d usually finish runners-up – but not any more. Liverpool were about to start 22 years of being in transition.

Talking about those 22 years is quite painful really. Highs weren’t gone completely – see 2001 and 2005 for details – but any idea that Reds supporters could afford to take anything for granted should have been long gone. Sadly, it wasn’t the case. At times the so-called best fans in the world have sounded – in some cases – like the most spoilt brats in the world.

Have a look how many times Liverpool have finished second in the seasons since Kenny Dalglish’s first spell as manager came to an end. Have a look at the last time. Think back to the calls for the manager’s head, the complaints about him throwing it all away and the progress made since. Liverpool haven’t even got into the top five since then. Fans took top two for granted because they were more concerned about another team catching the Reds’ total than they were about encouraging some genuine progress in the face of arguably the clearest case of financial adversity since the club’s formation the century before the last one.

That chance has gone, that ship has sailed. The new owners won’t speak to that manager. Some of those who survived his departure, who played along with the game of distracting supporters from the true cause of the problems, who helped rip the club apart whilst hoping to be recognised for saving it, are still around.  It would be a surprise if those who helped him out the door were giving FSG advice other than to steer clear of that old boss. It would also be a surprise if FSG, as wise as we’ve been led to believe they are, haven’t spotted the apprehension those people show at the mere thought of an old boss chatting to new owners. FSG aren’t afraid to terminate a contract, no matter how recently it was awarded and no matter the status of who it was awarded to.

FSG are trying to rebuild Liverpool Football Club and are going to do it their way. Read more

We have to accept FSG's way of thinking, it's the least they deserve.

Since the sacking of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager by Fenway Sports Group debate between supporters has been often heated as stories circulate about what happens next for the club in terms not only of manager but also in structure, with concerns raised at the continued lack of any visible progress on the stadium. Not all fans trust FSG to do the right thing, or for them to be receiving the right advice, but not all fans are troubled by the way they are going about running the club. One fan asked for the platform to put his side of the argument forward and we were happy to do that.

Ste MullarkeyBy Stephen Mullarkey

FIRST things first, sorry to Jim for constantly calling him ‘Mr Doom’ on Twitter. I just take a rather more positive outlook on what seems to be the FSG philosophy.

When FSG rolled into town it was always my belief that they had a philosophy in baseball that was spearheaded by a youthful manager/coach. Of course at that time we had the pleasure of watching what has to be the dullest football I have seen at Anfield in my 23 years of following Liverpool. People were already growing increasingly frustrated by Roy Hodgson’s tactics and awful style of football when FSG took ownership of the club.

It was of great relief and also joy for us all when Roy was replaced by Kenny. Although a temporary measure it was always going to be difficult for FSG to appoint their own man that fitted within their philosophy if Kenny had a successful stint as ‘caretaker manager’ as surely he would keep the job full time if successful. Read more

We have to accept FSG’s way of thinking, it’s the least they deserve.

Since the sacking of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager by Fenway Sports Group debate between supporters has been often heated as stories circulate about what happens next for the club in terms not only of manager but also in structure, with concerns raised at the continued lack of any visible progress on the stadium. Not all fans trust FSG to do the right thing, or for them to be receiving the right advice, but not all fans are troubled by the way they are going about running the club. One fan asked for the platform to put his side of the argument forward and we were happy to do that.

Ste MullarkeyBy Stephen Mullarkey

FIRST things first, sorry to Jim for constantly calling him ‘Mr Doom’ on Twitter. I just take a rather more positive outlook on what seems to be the FSG philosophy.

When FSG rolled into town it was always my belief that they had a philosophy in baseball that was spearheaded by a youthful manager/coach. Of course at that time we had the pleasure of watching what has to be the dullest football I have seen at Anfield in my 23 years of following Liverpool. People were already growing increasingly frustrated by Roy Hodgson’s tactics and awful style of football when FSG took ownership of the club.

It was of great relief and also joy for us all when Roy was replaced by Kenny. Although a temporary measure it was always going to be difficult for FSG to appoint their own man that fitted within their philosophy if Kenny had a successful stint as ‘caretaker manager’ as surely he would keep the job full time if successful. Read more

Martinez in Miami – with John Henry

EIGHT days after flying Kenny Dalglish to Boston to sack him John W Henry has flown Roberto Martinez to Miami to, presumably, offer him the Liverpool manager’s job.

On a day that saw Liverpool officially confirm previously leaked appointments for Jen Chang (corporate relations and communications director) and Billy Hogan (chief commercial officer) Henry looks to have settled for the Wigan Athletic manager as the man to turn a squad that has finished between sixth and eighth over the past three seasons into one that get into the top three and earn a guaranteed Champions League place. Martinez’s job this season was to avoid the bottom three, something he did achieve after his side had spent most of the season in that relegation zone.
Read more

Two years too late, Purslow sees Rafa as Reds boss

THE NEWS last night that Kenny Dalglish had, officially, been sacked by FSG was big news. If Liverpool’s place in the football world is diminishing nobody seems to have told the news outlets. It wasn’t just sports pages, sports bulletins or local radio talking about the end of Kenny’s second stint as boss and views were sought from ex-players, reporters and fans.

One person whose views were thought relevant is the man who – some argue – got Liverpool FC into this situation of trying to find the right manager in the first place. Christian Purslow was installed, probably by demand of the banks, as the club’s MD in 2009.

Purslow was announced as MD after Liverpool had finished second in the league. The season that followed saw the manager undermined and the club head at speed towards administration whilst the man sent in to save it was pretending all was rosy financially to anybody who’d listen.

It was that pretence – including untrue statements that there had been £20m spent on transfers over and above what came in from sales – that helped set the scene for Rafa’s ultimate departure. For reasons best known to themselves, some fans wanted Rafa out even as he was taking the club towards that second-place finish. “This club exists to win trophies!” they cried, probably literally. Before long they were being used to add to the pressure Rafa was under as certain elements in the boardroom did all they could to distract from the genuine, threatening, problems the club now had with its lenders.

Read more

Kenny Dalglish leaves a rudderless Liverpool

Liverpool football club are looking for a new manager after Kenny Dalglish left the club for the second time. The manager didn’t leave by mutual consent and didn’t resign, he was sacked.

In a statement, current owners FSG said:

Fenway Sports Group (FSG) and Liverpool Football Club announced that Kenny Dalglish is to leave his post today as Manager after having his contract terminated.

After a careful and deliberative review of the season, the Club came to the decision that a change was appropriate. It is not a decision that was reached lightly or hastily.

The search for a new Manager will begin immediately.

The statement continued with some hollow words of a corporate nature, before including some words from Kenny:
Read more

Would it hurt LFC to consult all Hillsborough families? #LFCKIT

AT midnight last night the deal that saw Adidas as official kit supplier to Liverpool FC came to an end as the new contract with Warrior Sports kicked-in. After much build-up and expectation the new home shirt for the 2012-13 season was revealed by the club.

The contract is lucrative for the club – and includes for the first time an agreement to produce a new home kit every season rather than every other season – and although many fans would buy the new shirt regardless of how it looked it’s of course important to make sure it will appeal to as many supporters as possible.

Liverpool’s badge – or logo if you prefer – was changed some years back to incorporate not only the Liverbird but also the Shankly Gates and more significantly the eternal flame in memory of the 96 supporters who died as a result of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. The new shirts have gone back to a variation on the previous badge – the Liverbird with the lettering “L.F.C.” underneath and no eternal flame.

Instead of having the flames on the front of the shirt in the club’s crest they are now on the back of the shirt, two flames either side of the number “96”.

Whether this change is good, bad or otherwise is of course an individual choice and on the whole the change seems to have been well received. What hasn’t been well received is the way the change was communicated to those who matter most – the families of the victims.
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A glimpse of "Our Liverpool: Never Walk Alone"

THE latest accounts from Liverpool FC show how important the commercial side of the club’s operations are to the club’s future, with a new stadium still as far away from being reality as it’s ever been following what looks to have been little more than a confidence trick from the club’s former owners.

The club have binned the plans for the stadium Tom Hicks promised he’d build and without the extra money coming in from all those extra seats – the whole reason the club was sold in the first place – Liverpool need to find other ways to compete with the rest of the sides looking for top four football, itself a good way to bring in extra income.  The accounts show that commercial income is going up but with football reaching more and more people there’s still plenty of potential to keep it going that way.

One territory that the club and its new owners want to exploit is the US – and as well as sending the side out to play some football there in the summer the club have granted Fox Soccer unprecedented behind-the-scenes access for a new six-part documentary series.

“Our Liverpool: Never Walk Alone” will be produced by multi Emmy award winner Scott Boggins  and will be available to watch globally in the autumn.  If the series works as well as Fox and the club are hoping it won’t just attract new supporters, maybe it will attract new commercial partners – maybe even naming rights partners.

For us it’s about what we get to see in terms of the goings-on behind the scenes at the club, something that raised eyebrows when the announcement was first made. Our dirty laundry was far too public during the difficult days of the last regime and we wouldn’t want this to bring more of it out in the open again for the sake of ratings. And the announcement came a few days after an offshoot of the owners’ company in the US embarrassingly referred to “Liverpool’s world famous griffin.”

These fears seem to be unfounded, the people behind the documentary come highly recommended and LFC TV people will be around to provide guidance where needed. This isn’t going to be a half-hearted effort from a disinterested distant outlet.

The first promo for the documentary is now available, a teaser of what’s to come, and if that’s anything to go by it looks like it’s going to be something special:

Read more

A glimpse of “Our Liverpool: Never Walk Alone”

THE latest accounts from Liverpool FC show how important the commercial side of the club’s operations are to the club’s future, with a new stadium still as far away from being reality as it’s ever been following what looks to have been little more than a confidence trick from the club’s former owners.

The club have binned the plans for the stadium Tom Hicks promised he’d build and without the extra money coming in from all those extra seats – the whole reason the club was sold in the first place – Liverpool need to find other ways to compete with the rest of the sides looking for top four football, itself a good way to bring in extra income.  The accounts show that commercial income is going up but with football reaching more and more people there’s still plenty of potential to keep it going that way.

One territory that the club and its new owners want to exploit is the US – and as well as sending the side out to play some football there in the summer the club have granted Fox Soccer unprecedented behind-the-scenes access for a new six-part documentary series.

“Our Liverpool: Never Walk Alone” will be produced by multi Emmy award winner Scott Boggins  and will be available to watch globally in the autumn.  If the series works as well as Fox and the club are hoping it won’t just attract new supporters, maybe it will attract new commercial partners – maybe even naming rights partners.

For us it’s about what we get to see in terms of the goings-on behind the scenes at the club, something that raised eyebrows when the announcement was first made. Our dirty laundry was far too public during the difficult days of the last regime and we wouldn’t want this to bring more of it out in the open again for the sake of ratings. And the announcement came a few days after an offshoot of the owners’ company in the US embarrassingly referred to “Liverpool’s world famous griffin.”

These fears seem to be unfounded, the people behind the documentary come highly recommended and LFC TV people will be around to provide guidance where needed. This isn’t going to be a half-hearted effort from a disinterested distant outlet.

The first promo for the documentary is now available, a teaser of what’s to come, and if that’s anything to go by it looks like it’s going to be something special:

Read more