Hicks/Gillett Vs Benitez/Koppites….ring the bell

January 20, 2010

Ah, Liverpool. Despite what Sky, The Sun, and most from Cornwall will tell you, England’s most succesful club. The third most succesful club in Europe, and one of the best supported clubs in the world. However, they’re a shambles, both in the board room and on the pitch. As ever, there’s a danger of getting egg on my face with this post, but hey ho, I’m going to plough on into it like a two-footed Paul Scholes challenge.

Despite the backing that Benitez has received from Hicks and Gillett publicly, privately I’m certain they’re imagining his head on the chopping block. However, the complete farce that is their ownership of the Reds already has them on the brink of expulsion, and the removal of Benitez will certainly see them in the abyss. Indeed, due to his close relationship with those on the terraces, Benitez is pretty much unsackable

While Hicks and Gillett still got on, they approached Jurgen Klinsmann about the possibility of taking Benitez’s job. This was met with fury from the Koppites, who adored ‘Rafa’ for his European Cup win, and the board rightly backed down. That being said, now is the time that any board should be considering the Spaniard’s position.

Out of the Champions League, out of the FA Cup and only just hanging on to the coat-tails of Manchester City and Spurs in the race for fourth, Benitez should certainly be clearing out his desk. Despite taking the club to two European finals and an FA Cup win, his team just don’t have the depth to sustain a title challenge when Torres and Gerrard are injured. In his time there, he’s allowed Bellamy, Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Pennant and Xabi Alonso to leave the club, leaving his club desperately short in genuine quality. Many Liverpool fans have blamed the lack of investment from the owners for Liverpool’s weak squad, but keeping those five would have gone a long way to reinforcing Benitez’s team.

I get the impression a section of the support are at last turning against Benitez, many believing the final straw came against Reading last week. However, before Hicks and Gillett start rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of finally getting rid the bearded one, they should have a long, hard think. There are many more Liverpool supporters wanting to see the back of Hicks and Gillett rather than the ‘FSW’ (‘Fat Spanish Waiter’ to fans of other clubs) and the removal of Benitez will see a massive protest.

So where does this leave Hicks and Gillett? Do they stay at a club where they are despised, swimming in debt, unable to invest in the squad and slide into mid-table mediocrity? Or do they remove Benitez from his position, and then get forced out the club by 45,000 angry Scousers? Or do they sell up to an owner with the financial muscle to take Liverpool forward?

This wouldn’t be a problem to them if they hadn’t dragged the club into ridiculous debt when they purchased them. Much like the Glazer’s did with Manchester United, Hicks and Gillett put their own greed above the supporters of the club. The attitude of the Hicks/Gillett team was summed up last week by Hicks Jnr’s email to a fan concerned at his club’s slide. The staggering arrogance of Hicks Jnr led to him being removed from his position, and proved that the Americans really don’t understand ‘soccer’ and it’s supporters.

Unless, of course, your name is Randy Lerner. Despite his ridiculous name, Randy is the perfect chairman for a Premier League club. He has very quietly set about making Aston Villa a true force in the game, backing his manager with funds, and allowing him to build one of the most exciting teams in the country. At the same time, he’s ensured Villa’s future is secure, tickets are reasonably priced and he is loved by the Villa support.

The two different styles of ownership are night and day, a million miles from each other and I truly hope Villa sneak into the top 4 at the end of the season. I would be surprised if there aren’t a few Liverpool fans praying for a bad finish too, in the hope that they can use the anger that will inevitably bring to force Hicks and Gillett out the door.

Liverpool finishing out of the top 4 and United claiming a record-beating 19th title might just be enough. I wouldn’t fancy being a ‘copper’ in the North West that day though.

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