Liverpool winger Albert Riera yesterday launched a scathing attack on his manager Rafa Benitez over a lack of communication with his struggling squad and dubbed the Reds a “sinking ship.”
It seems the club is going from one crisis to another with Riera’s outburst and Fernando Torres’ recent hint at an exit unless investment is made in the squad, just the latest reasons why many would question Benitez’s standing at the club and whether or not he has lost the dressing room. Even the recent form, body language and behaviour of the usually colossal Steven Gerrard has been a concern for fans this season. Riera’s untimely outburst would’ve been the last thing Benitez needed right now as he attempts to rescue Liverpool’s calamitous season. Many Liverpool fans will feel further disillusioned by the Spanish wingers words after suffering what has been their poorest league form since 2005 – like then they are struggling for a top-four finish. But Riera is not the only player who has publicly displayed discontent as Ryan Babel is rumoured to have had a few run-ins with Benitez and Torres has implied he could go unless the club match his ambitions.
The Spanish striker suggested that Liverpool were “a long way” from dominating the Premier League and suggested he was tired of the club’s mediocrity. Speaking to Spanish newspaper AS, Torres said: “If we do not reinforce the squad next year, all we will be able to do is fight for fourth again. Hopefully my future is here… but the fans are worried that players may leave. That is a problem. What is really important is that the club make an effort to bring in players to improve the quality of the squad. We need four or five players, better than those we have.”
If the players’ criticisms of the club off the pitch were not enough to concern the fans then their performances on it must be putting the jitters up them regarding their top-four status. Liverpool fans have already had to live with early exits from both the Champions League and the FA Cup. Their latest disappointment came against Wigan at the DW Stadium, which became the Reds’ ninth defeat of their current league campaign. The Premier League table makes depressing reading for Liverpool, who currently lay fifth in the table and are involved in a scrap for fourth sport against Tottenham, Aston Villa and Manchester City. The pressure seems to have even got to their skipper Gerrard, whose form has been indifferent this season, and has only netted nine times in 37 games this season. He was also recently accused of flicking a ‘V-sign’ at referee Andre Marriner and was involved in an elbowing incident with Portsmouth’s Michael Brown on Monday night. Although the Liverpool captain escaped a violent conduct charge and a three-match ban the incident in question still raises questions over his recent temperament and his own future at the club.
It could be argued that Gerrard’s frustration is understandable as the club showed a lot of improvement in their second place finish in the league last year only to throw it all away and let one of their better talents in Xabi Alonso leave for Real Madrid. The 29-year-old midfielder now faces a dilemma if he wishes for success. Does he stick at his beloved Liverpool, or does he go elsewhere to seek silverware before it is too late?