Liverpool’s battle to finish fourth looks increasingly futile after more points were dropped at home to Fulham, further damaging their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
The Reds approached the game knowing no more mistakes could be made this season, but a 0-0 draw was all too similar to results at Anfield last season, when the title was lost because of failure to beat sides below them in the table.
Although nothing has changed on the pitch for the Reds, American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have announced their intention to sell the club.
Hicks and Gillett confirmed the appointment of Martin Broughton, formerly chairman of British Airways, as the club’s new chairman, with a remit to find much-needed new investment.
The club released a statement, which said: "The new Chairman will oversee a formal sale process launched by current owners, Thomas Hicks and George Gillett Jr."
Mr Broughton said: "I will run this sale process in the right way, for the
benefit of the Club and its fans. Liverpool is one of the world's greatest
clubs and my aim is to try and ensure that we find new owners who are
able to build on the Club's recent improved financial performance in
order to help deliver sporting success."
Against Fulham, Fernando Torres, who has been in fantastic
goal-scoring form, was not even named amongst the substitutes due
to a knee injury, so David N’Gog replaced him, with Steven Gerrard in
close support at the point of the attack.
Liverpool came close twice in quick succession when Alberto Aquilani
ended a flowing move with an overhead kick straight at the goalkeeper,
before Maxi Rodriguez missed a simple chance to score his first goal
for the club. Javier Mascherano then forced a smart save from Mark
Schwarzer with a dipping volley from outside the box.
The quality of football in the first-half failed to match the sunshine that
lit up Anfield, with both teams clearly feeling their midweek exertions
in the Europa League. These two sides are England’s last remaining
representatives in European football this season, and could meet
again in the Europa League Final in Hamburg in May.
The Reds looked far more threatening in the second-half with the chances again falling for Aquilani. He saw a placed shot saved and drilled a left-footed attempt wide as Liverpool raised the tempo in search of the breakthrough goal.
Liverpool spent much of the second-half camped in Fulham’s half but frustration was growing as they failed to find a way through the visitors’ organised and committed defence.
Rafa Benitez made three substitutions in quick succession, with Dirk Kuyt, Yossi Benayoun and Daniel Pacheco introduced from the bench in place of Aquilani, Ryan Babel and N’Gog , while the formation was altered in an attempt to bolster the attack.
But Liverpool are a completely different side without their talismanic forward Torres on the pitch, and despite dominating possession for much of the game, ultimately failed to break Fulham down.
Benitez’s team must now win all of their remaining games and hope their rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City drop points, if they are to fulfil the manager’s mid-season guarantee that his side would finish in the top four.
As this was the closest home fixture to April 15th, the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, fans at Anfield immaculately observed a minute’s silence before kick-off, in memory of the 96 people who lost their lives in 1989. Liverpool players also wore black armbands as a mark of respect.
By Chris Shaw, Website Editor
Liverpool FC: official site >>
Rafa Benitez is unlikely to secure fourth and the club's American owners are ready to sell (Pics © Trinity Mirror)
Reds lacked goals without Torres