Rafa Benitez's Bargain Hunting Costing Liverpool Dearly

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst INovember 20, 2009

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  Birmingham City Manager Alex McLeish (R) gestures as Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez shouts instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Birmingham City at Anfield on November 9, 2009 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

At the close of last season, it was thought that Liverpool were finally going to end the run which has seen them not lift the league trophy since the managerial tenure of Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish.

Now, a mere 12 games into the new season, they seem to be out of the title race. Not only this, but Europe is looking grim as well.

For Liverpool fans across the globe, this has come as a shock and has brought them back to earth to face the grim reality that the cost cutting measures of the financial crisis has meant that the club entered the new season under-prepared, unready and with a squad that is still far too reliant on two key players.

The question here is whether the blame is solely Benitez's or if it is to do with the clubs ownership not being true blue reds.

After all, can the American owners really understand the nature of the passion of Kop end regulars? Or any Liverpool fans for that matter?

It is hard to imagine many of the premier leagues foreign owners really understanding what the game means to the people who flow through the turnstiles to place their hopes and dreams at the feet of their heroes.

So if Benitez was forced to curb spending because of budgetary constraints, it now appears extremely ironic that they are now in danger of slipping out of the lucrative champions league positions which guarantee the club millions in revenue every season.

So in order to cut costs, they went into the new season with a squad that has only two real world class players and a lot that have had the odd good day followed by a few bad ones.

When the only major signing Benitez made in the off-season being the acquisition of the unfortunate Aquilani, who though a very good player, has been hindered terribly in his time in Italy through injury and so far not helped his new club at all to bear the burden of the loss of the Spaniard Alonso.

Perhaps complacency crept in to the Liverpool camp.

After all, last season they should really have won the league at a canter, whereas they instead found themselves in the familiar position of looking up the table at Manchester United.

Four points behind the champions at the close of the season they clearly lost the title because of the sides inability to close out fixtures against mediocre opposition. Drawing 11 games to United's six.

This was clearly the problem that needed to be addressed and it was widely expected that Benitez would go some way toward solving the problem of the teams heavy reliance on Gerrard and Torres with the signing of at least one more world class striker and one more world class midfielder.

World class is not used lightly in this context either, by world class it is meant the players should be able to make a shadow squad for a world 11 or other such all star side.

Instead the cash was spent on an injury prone midfielder who has struggled to play in Italy and now has not appeared yet in the EPL, which by many peoples standards is a much more physically demanding competition than Serie A.

Perhaps Benitez should have taken more time to appeal to his bosses to unlock more funds to his command so that he was able to buy two quality players that could have functioned in the place of the two players that seem to be irreplaceable when they are absent.

Instead, he chose to get Aquilani for under twenty million when he realistically should have been looking at buying two players at a cost of up to £60 million.

While this figure seems high, in comparison with the revenue amounts the club gains from the champions league every year along with advertising and exposure for the club brand through appearances in the champions league it is nothing. 

If the players that were purchased would have helped them to reach the last 16 of the CL and kept them in the hunt for the EPL trophy its a good piece of management.

Now it seems that bargain hunting has cost Liverpool millions, may cost Benitez his job and maybe even herald danger that Liverpool could slip out of the top four and maybe even creaked the hinge on the door to mid table mediocrity.

The bargain hunting nature of the football manager is always lauded as a great gift,where in actuality most managers at successful clubs have to part with large amounts of cash in order to guarantee the continuation of that success.

Liverpool have to salvage their season from here on in and the January transfer window will need to be utilised in order to shore up the team.

Astonishingly two players that perhaps could have been ideal for the positions that Liverpool needed to fill and find adequate cover for, have been languishing out of the squad at Lazio. Goran Pandev and Cristian Ledesma are both out of favor with the ownership of the Italian side because both are eager to move on to greener pastures.

Perhaps Benitez needs to forget about bargains and just splash the cash so that Liverpool do not fall too far behind the clubs they have tried so hard to dethrone in the last few seasons.


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