Stage set for Liverpool protest over Gillett and Hicks
Liverpool's co-owner George Gillett is expected at Anfield for the visit of Manchester United tomorrow and seems unlikely to be left in any doubt about the force of the club's fans antipathy towards him and Tom Hicks.
The Americans' inability to raise capital to advance the club's new stadium development, allied to an acute sense from along the M62 of what Liverpool are missing without Arab investment of their own, has hardened opposition to Hicks and Gillett and thousands of fans are expected to stage a protest march against the two before the match.
It would appear that Gillett, who appears no closer to selling his 50 per cent share of the club to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the father-in-law of City's new owner Sheikh Mansour, will feel the full force of supporters' feelings. The Spirit of Shankly (SOS) organisation are planning the protest march, which starts at 11am and will later converge on the ground.
"We are playing one of our biggest rivals, a team who are one behind us in League titles. Much of the talk at the moment, however, is about what's going on off the pitch – what Hicks and Gillett are up to, the stadium and the club's finances," an SOS spokesman said yesterday.
Jamie Carragher's declaration, in his autobiography published yesterday, that "for richer or poorer, [we] sold Liverpool to two ruthless businessmen who saw us as a money-making opportunity," will certainly harden opinion yet further.
Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, has hinted that new signing Albert Riera may make his debut against United and recalled yesterday how the Spanish left-winger played his first match for Manchester City in a 3-1 victory over United at Eastlands in 2006.
Fernando Torres has made good progress from a hamstring tear sustained against Aston Villa on 31 August and is more likely to feature than Steven Gerrard, who had surgery on a groin injury after the Villa game. Gerrard may be held back for the Champions League match in Marseilles on Tuesday in what could be one of the season's most crucial weeks for Benitez's side.