It was only five years ago that
Liverpool won the Champions League in breathtaking style and became champions
of Europe for the fifth time. Yet today on current form even counting Steven Gerrard,
Joe Cole and Fernando Torres, they look like relegation certainties. The huge
debt accumulated by George Gillett and Tom Hicks and uncertainty of the club’s
future even if the new owners are the New England Sports Venture, owners of the
Boston Red Sox, is having a destructive effect on the players’ morale and
ability to play with confidence.
Add to the mix the excruciating
start Roy Hodgson has made as the new manager at Anfield and the omens loom
larger every day. No team is ‘too good’ to be relegated but when you lose at
home to Blackpool in the league and lowly Northampton in the Carling Cup,
things should have reached rock bottom. Shockingly though, they may not have.
Torres has a groin injury and will
miss next week’s crucial relegation dog-fight against arch rivals Everton and
even Gerrard’s broad shoulders cannot carry the rest of the side for a whole
season. Cole is still settling in and Jamie Carragher is doing the best he can
on veteran legs.
Owning a football club used to be a
windfall for millionaires, but the industry is so badly run now that even
billionaires are ducking out of committing and the ones that do, see it as a
loss leader at best. Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich has already kissed at least $1
billion goodbye and the sheiks who own Manchester City will soon hope that the
price of oil doesn’t fall too drastically otherwise they may be embarrassed
come payday at Eastlands.
If the figures are right, Gillett
and Hicks could be hundreds of millions in debt when the takeover is completed.
If so, serves them right for their greed and incompetence. Liverpool, the
second most successful club in Britain after Manchester United, are an
institution and to paraphrase the Beatles song, they need to get back to where
they once belonged.