Come June 2008, Rafael Benitez is going to be one busy man.
Caught between warring factions of the Liverpool board, he can only hope that the disputes are settled when the transfer window opens. For the last few years, Benitez has lamented not being able to land his first transfer choices, and then lambasted for his transfers being duds.
The man needs money, and he needs the support of the club—period. Frankly, the club would be much better off in the hands of one single person (even Hicks)—at least we'd have an owner and washed laundry instead of the three stooges at the helm (namely Hicks, Gillett and Parry).
Some highly rated players are being heavily linked with a move to Anfield, like Luka Modric, Rafinha, Valeron Behrami and Michael Johnson.
While there seems to be sense in bolstering the full back position—I really don't see the need for another midfielder—however talented. Liverpool has an excess of creative midfielders of varying styles in Gerrard, Alonso, Lucas and even Benayoun (the last quarter of the Blackburn match being the case in point).
This summer looks like cleaning season for the boss, as he looks to replace Kewell, Riise, Pennant, Crouch and (hopefully) Kuyt (yes I know he's been playing well under the 4-2-3-1 formation but I don't really remember the last time he even looked like half a striker rather than looking three-fourths a winger).
While Hyypia might also be on the way out, personally—he deserves another season, as a stop gap measure, in between Skrtel and Agger.
With the imminent departure of Pennant and Riise and Kuyt, and the sudden glut of quality wingers in the transfer market—Benitez should really go all out and pay top dollar for a winger (or two).
David Bentley or Joe Cole—seem obvious English choices; with Benzema, Ben Arfa, Hleb, Quarasema and Van der Vaart also seemingly available. While Bentley has been identified as a key target by many, what is really needed is a winger like Joe Cole—who has the capacity to produce the creative flair which was promised and sporadically delivered by Harry Kewell.
Strikers like Samuel Eto'o and Davd Villa are being talked about in the press in conjunction with the club, but such transfer rumors are just plainly that—rumors. In the present situation, such high profile spending seems to be a long way off.
So, while so many players seem to be on their way out—Benitez has either of two solutions at hand—to import by the truckloads—or a combination of splashing big money and trusting his reserves.
While the money generated by these outgoing players (except Hyypia and Kewell—whose contract expires at the end of the season) can be pumped back in to get a few top quality players—Benitez should really refrain from replacing man for man.
Instead he should take a leaf out of Wenger's book and start trusting his exceptionally gifted youth and reserve team.
With the reserve league in the bag—quality players like Jordy Brouwer, Nemeth, El Zhar, Dani Pacheo and Insua deserve to play their bit parts in the coming season.
Especially El Zhar, who's already scored a senior team goal for the club and Dani Pacheco, the ex-Barca starlet who was whisked away much like Fabregas, on the day his contract expired.
Moreover, Danny Guthrie should be recalled from Bolton and Jack Hobbs given more match practise, to consolidate on our existing resources.
Its hard to believe that a club like Liverpool can't produce a single player rising from the youth team or the reserves in the last few years. In fact, I really don't remember the last time the club had a local lad or even a reserve to play regularly for the first team— since the Gerrard, Owen, Carragher, McManaman era.