Another dreadful week for Liverpool has again plunged the club into trouble as the battle for fourth place, and Champions League qualification, continues. The consolation of winning the Europa League was also put in doubt by a 1-0 defeat away to French side Lille.
Reports claimed that manager Rafa Benitez called a crisis meeting at Anfield after the 1-0 loss to Wigan, and you could not blame him given the performance on the night. The team have been struggling for quality all season but in recent weeks there has also been a lack of effort and attitude, with star
players Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard visibly frustrated.
Wigan fully deserved their win over the Reds, as did Lille, with Liverpool nervous in defence and blunt in attack in both games. Torres is clearly lacking fitness after his return from injury and Gerrard is desperately short of form and cannot inspire the team as he has so many times before.
In December Benitez “guaranteed” that Liverpool would finish in the top four, but his confident claim is looking increasingly unlikely as the season reaches its climax.
The Reds currently sit sixth in the table and have played more games than their rivals for fourth. With games against Manchester United and Chelsea still to come, Liverpool face a huge challenge to retain their status as one of the Big Four clubs.
If they do fall short of that aim, Benitez may have no choice
but to sell some of his best players, not only to balance the
books but because they will be disillusioned at Anfield.
Stars like Gerrard and Torres, as well as goalkeeper Pepe
Reina and coveted midfielder Javier Mascherano, will not be
happy without Champions League football.
With the club already £237m in debt, a season without
Champions League revenue could be disastrous. Benitez’s
spending power has been cut during recent transfer
windows, with a “sell to buy” policy believed to be in place.
Given Manchester City’s limitless spending power, the Reds
may find it difficult to get back into the top four should they
drop out this year.
Benitez himself may not remain at the club – despite still
board may decide to act. He has never had a strong
relationship with the club’s American owners and with Real Madrid, who have approached the Spaniard before, potentially looking for a new manager in the summer, the time may be right for a change.
By Chris Shaw, Website Editor
Liverpool could be forced to sell top stars if they fail to qualify for the Champions League
YouTube: Benitez reacts to defeat at Wigan