I wrote recently that Liverpool had plumbed new depths in their performance at Portsmouth but, clearly, worse was to come. And supporters of the club, peering into the abyss, realise they can't yet see the bottom. Liverpool are in crisis, on and off the field.
It was a traumatic week. It began with the fiasco of that email response by Tom Hicks Jr to, what I gather, was a perfectly polite enquiry by a fan. Typical. Hicks and Gillett can argue the contrary all they like but most every single promise they’ve made has been broken.
They’ve turned a national institution into a laughing stock.
They bought Liverpool with other people’s money and then shifted the debt onto the club. And where is the new stadium, three years after they told people the ‘the first spade would go into the ground’?
Ironically, it’s their mismanagement that is probably keeping Rafa Benitez in a job. They’ve allowed him, on the back of a five-year contract, to take complete control of the playing side.
Even if they could afford to sack the Spaniard, his departure would signal the complete collapse of the coaching and technical set-up.
And, not the manager’s fault, the players simply aren’t performing. Albeit it was the FA Cup but Liverpool were abysmal against Reading, one of the weaker teams in the Championship. The only player I excused from criticism was Agger. Most were shocking, especially Kuyt and Insua, players I advocated ‘resting’ many weeks ago.
Stoke? Even given the injuries, that was an appallingly negative selection by Benitez. Aquilani was “tired” which is just about the worst excuse I’ve ever heard for not picking a player you thought it worth spending £20 million on.
There were FOUR full backs in that starting 11 against a shockingly limited Stoke outfit. Even the merest hint of Liverpool quality allied with application should have taken all three points. There was none of the former and not enough of the latter.
Of course, Benitez can point to persistent misfortune. It’s as if a heavenly body is putting the boot in: losing players like Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun to injury at such a critical period. But what do you get from the ‘rest’, a squad that the manager must take the responsibility for assembling?
All sides suffer bad luck but, when it happens to Liverpool these days, they immediately look like a team fearing the worst.
It’s not as if it’s merely a technical or tactical problem. Most probably, Benitez could find an answer for that. But, in a complete collapse of confidence amongst his charges, the Spaniard now looks lost in the dark.
Spurs are next up at Anfield on Wednesday night. Might Liverpool promise a new dawn by beating them, as they did in the wins over Manchester United, Aston Villa and Everton?
Would it, like the others, prove false?