As the official confirmation of Rafa’s departure from Liverpool comes through, it has in many ways just put the man out of his misery. For a long time now, longer than even the duration of this season, and the season before, his future (now his past) has been debated and fans and pundits alike have been using the same arguments over and over again why he should stay and why he should go. Now though all that can stop and we will get to see whether this decision is either the start of a fresh beginning with a new manager or just the continuation of what has been a nightmare year for all those concerned at the club.
So now where are we? Well we the anti-Rafa brigade have got what they’ve wanted (I use that term not meaning to offend), but it is hard to see how we can possibly benefit from this. It is all very well and good saying that the new manager should be given the money to make a job of it, but it simply isn’t going to happen. Also, saying that a manager who can win us things should be appointed but it takes a special sort of bloke who’d gladly take the opportunity to manage a team whose fans expect you to be a top-four team on a mid-table budget. The calls for Mourinho to be made manager (before he went to Real) did make me laugh. Even if the guy might have a grudging respect for our club, and even if by some weird twist of fate he abandons his ego and found a modicum of humility and in the process stopped being a jerk, he still would not have been given the money to do a job.
So who to appoint now? And please lets not get sentimental here. I’d love Kenny Dalglish to take control and drag us kicking and screaming back into the top-four and whilst it may not be beyond the man, times have changed, and its been a long time since he won us our last title. I’d also like Roy Hodgson. A thoroughly decent bloke and a manager whom nobody can muster up a bad word about, but a) Fulham would probably hold us to ransom, b)Fulham had a fairly average season and c)he seems a man of his word and will probably see out his contract. Martin O’Neill is another name we’re hearing being through around. I have nothing against the guy, he is quite like-able, as a pundit I think he is up there with the best that the UK has (not hard), but I get the feeling he has spent a lot of money (most of it that unlike Rafa he did not recoup) and he still has not done anything special with Aston Villa. They are still off the Top Four. I know it is hypocritical talking about such matters being a Liverpool fan, and yes Spurs and Manchester City with their chasm of money aren’t making things easier, but at least even Rafa occasionally had a plan B. I do believe that O’Neill’s success in the Premier League is a bit of a myth. That isn’t to say his success is not relative as he has improved Villa’s fortunes.
I’m sure speculation on who is going to take over is going to rumble on through the summer, and people far more important and better-dressed than me are going to give their opinions on who should and should not take over. I’m strangely ambivalent to it all. There was a time where I’d have liked Cesare Prandelli to take over but this was many months back when there was another peak in Rafa-exit talks, but Prandelli is due to take over as head-coach of Italy after the World Cup, so that is a no-go. Luciano Spalletti too, but he is at Zenit. Alas, whoever comes in must not be straddled with the task of winning us the Premier League, because that is a long, long way off. With Spurs and City and maybe Villa as well likely to barge us out of the way in the rush for the World Cup’s shining stars (financially) the race for 4th might be tougher than we made it look last season.
What should be remembered is that nothing has been solved by what has happened at the club today. Yes the club is bigger than Rafa and will move on from him, but it has lost a man who has battled off the pitch with the club’s best interests at heart against the owners looking for a quick buck, the media who wanted a quick story, and most unforgivably, the club’s own fans who wanted a quick trophy.