Liverpool football club are arguably the most illustrious of Premier League clubs, holding a wealth of trophies in their enlarged cabinet. However four trophy-less seasons and only memories of the 1989-90, when domestic league success was achieved, have left the club in turmoil. Rising expectations have led to rising disappointment and this season may have pushed those surrounding the club too far. An early FA Cup exit to lower league opposition Reading in the third round mounted growing pressure on a Liverpool side whose Champions League future was already determined. Successive defeats to Fiorentina and Lyon left the club dropping to the Europa League – an insult to a club that have stolen the world with five previous Champions League final victories. Now, in the Europa League and a defeat to Lille has only confirmed their lack of will to succeed as players, staff and fans become disheartened with the running of the club.
League form was also creating great concern, after finishing second last season for the first time since 2002-03 the Merseysiders were prized for big things. Torres and Gerrard had formed solidarity in an attacking minded relationship upfront – one that proved deadly when the two could co-exist on a team sheet. However the duo were largely regarded as whales in a pond, the argument that these two world class players were pulling a mediocre side along began to ring bells in the current season. Injuries to both players have seen Liverpool amass a number of league defeats most notably to Wigan, Sunderland and Portsmouth combined with draws to Stoke and Wolves in recent outings. Thus the club find themselves in a current position of fifth, although their spot is temporary, with many fellow forth place challengers occupying games in hand.
So a player outburst was surely on the horizon and it came from an unlikely source as Albert Riera laid blame on Rafael Benitez’s managerial style. The player has been on the fringe of the Liverpool XI in recent weeks and claims he is being forced out by a manager who has “turned a deaf ear to him”. World Cup seasons are always traumatic on the relationships of players and mangers as everyone necessitates regular football to prove their worth to their respective countries. Omission from the side can often lead to this tension and the cries of Riera are the latest of issues faced by Benitez this season. Although his tactics and form have been heavily scrutinised over the season it never emerged that he was losing the players, a recent outcry from Riera may be the words of the squad as a whole. The Spanish winger condemned the ex-Valencia coach’s man management skills claiming no-one knows where they stand. Riera continued to suggest ”When the coach says nothing to you and you are well, with no physical problems and training well, you cannot help but think it must be something personal.”
Robbie Fowler, is amongst a number of ex-professionals and Liverpool legends that have suggested if a new manger is needed to save the club then that must be done. Liverpool have just eight league games to secure a Champions League future, a task that will surely be hindered by a disillusioned dressing room. With reported interest from Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid for Liverpool’s prized assets will this be the final nail in Gerrard’s and Liverpool’s coffin?