It's no better a day later. Nothing will happen until the end of the season, but I'm afraid nothing's going to change either.
The list of parties responsible for Liverpool's poor season is overwhelmingly long, and includes any of the scapegoats you'd imagine. The manager, the owners, nearly every player who's pulled on the shirt, referees, and general misfortune. I'm sure I could come up with a few more if I lingered on the thought.
Yes, I do include Benitez. And I'm well aware I'm the ultimate apologist for this regime.
I still believe what I've written during the course of this ghastly campaign, and it's been kick after kick to the crotch that's put Liverpool in this position. Yesterday's match was quite bad, but Liverpool's been bad before. I haven't lost faith in Benitez overnight, but I'm afraid the players might have. Professionals don't all forgot how to play at the same time. The movement was non-existent, everyone's touch was poor, and the passing was even worse. It's like lightning striking the same place in five successive storms.
No matter who's responsible, the manager's the figurehead, and that's the head laid on the chopping block. What makes this so difficult to acknowledge, and what makes this different from the end of Evans and Houllier's tenures, is sometimes it seems as if Benitez is the only one at the club who cares about Liverpool FC.
The owners, piling on debt in the vain attempt to profit on Liverpool's legacy right before the economy went south (while lying about their intentions the entire time), clearly don't care. The chief executive, who's done an okay job, is only in place because RBS wanted a closer eye on the idiot owners who owe them loads of money. Only three players – Reina, Mascherano, and Kyrgiakos – have been exempt from criticism this season. Gerrard's already packing for the World Cup. Carragher's sniping in the press. Torres has been frustrated for long stretches, kicked by every defense he's faced – it's no surprise he's struggled with injuries – and not one referee protects him. The rest have been a shadow of themselves, whether down to injury or poor form. And yes, I include both Lucas and Kuyt, the two I so often defend. At times, those two, along with Ngog, Maxi, and others, simply haven't been good enough.
I firmly believe Benitez has stayed at Liverpool this long because he truly loves the fans and the city. And I truly fear what would happen if the owners got their man as manager. They wanted to hire Klinsmann, solely because they met him at some function, for Christ's sake! No other manager would have signed a new deal despite being given a net spending of approximately nothing over the last two seasons. And I'm still struggling to think of any top managers who'll walk into this situation.
But the football has been dire this season. Yesterday saw at least eight players who had forgotten how to play the game or just couldn't be bothered. That Liverpool were just as bad after the interval made me question whether Rafa even gave a team talk. Don't trust anyone outside of the dressing room who claims Manager X has lost Team X's dressing room, but the body language of both the players and Benitez told a story, as did Rafa's post match remarks.
The whole club needs an overhaul, from top to bottom. I'd infinitely prefer the owners were the ones booted out, followed by a fair few players. But, despite the financial penalties, it's still far easier to sack Benitez. Sigh.
The sky really might be falling.