Liverpool facing £100m
cost of Euro failure
By Tim Rich - Irish Independent
Concession speeches are never easy and, as
he explained that the Champions League was now virtually a
lost cause, Rafael Benitez's voice was hoarse and cracked.
His mood was not made any easier by a Danish journalist's
attempts to quiz him on the life and times of Daniel Agger
while he was doing it.
In the wake of a strangely low-key goalless draw against
Fulham in the Anfield sunshine, the Liverpool manager's
thoughts would have turned to the lost glory rather than the
lost revenue that failure to qualify for the Champions
League entails -- anything up to £45m.
But it will have a significant impact on the sale of the
club and in deciding Benitez's own future. Although
Liverpool's owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, have
appointed Barclays Capital and will appoint a new chairman,
Martin Broughton from British Airways, to oversee the sale
of the club, they have been told that they are now unlikely
to get £500m for Liverpool and the eventual figure may be
closer to £400m.
"The impact of not being in the Champions League is enormous
-- it is around £30m off the bottom line, more if you get to
the later stages," said Professor Chris Brady, the dean of
the BPP Business School, who specialises in football
"It is absolutely prime non-commercial revenue and you get
it in hard cash. I was hearing this morning that they (Hicks
and Gillett) were valuing the club at £600m. I would suggest
that is unrealistic by £100m and the price could come down
further than that.
"If you take over a club not in the Champions League, you
might need to spend anything up to £100m to get them back up
there. The club still needs a new stadium that would cost
around £350m. The total investment needed to take over
Liverpool and run it properly would be £900m to £1bn."
At the weekend, Benitez, who was still publicly confident
about re-qualification for the Champions League, suggested
that Liverpool needed a minimum investment of £60m on at
least three players to regain their competitive edge.
The relationship between the size of a club's wage bill and
success is a well-known correlation and Liverpool's is only
the fifth biggest in the Premier League. Benitez alleged
that Peter Crouch was able to substantially increase his
salary by moving to Tottenham and any takeover would have to
come with an implicit understanding that this wage bill
would have to rise.
The club's bankers, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia,
have now all but agreed to give Hicks and Gillett another
six months to pay back £100m of the £237m they have borrowed
against the club, a sum that was due to be repaid in July.
However, although many on the Kop would welcome the
departure of the owners, any takeover would put Benitez's
job in peril -- and not just because billionaire owners like
Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Abu Dhabi United at
Manchester City showed themselves all too ready to dispense
with the managers they inherited.
Yesterday, Liverpool's vice-captain, Jamie Carragher,
pointed out that if they do fail to qualify for the
Champions League, the principal reason would be the club's
away form, which he compared to that of Wolves. That is
ultimately Benitez's responsibility.
"One of the chief reasons for not getting rid of Benitez is
that you would have to pay up the majority of a five-year
contract," said Professor Brady. "Giving him and his
back-room staff a £10-15m pay-off might be a substantial
obstacle to the current owners.
"But if you have paid £500m for Liverpool and may have to
invest another £500m, then paying off Rafa Benitez suddenly
Three years ago, Hicks and Gillett paid £174m for the
Merseyside club, which had a debt of £44m. If they sell for
£500m, they will still make a profit of £30m -- not a bad
return for three years' work, even with all that bad feeling
from the Kop.
Fat lady is waiting to sing her song
for Liverpool FC Champions League hopes
Comment by Dave Randles - Liverpool Echo
It's not over until the fat lady sings. On
a glorious day at Anfield it was as though the Weather Girls
were waiting in limbo with a few of their larger sisters in
As each passing goal from Eastlands filtered through, the
spark in Liverpool’s play that continued from where it was
left against Benfica gradually fizzled out.
After starting so brightly, the game ended with a whimper.
Rafa Benitez didn’t quite wave his white handkerchief
afterwards. The submission in his voice suggested it might
not be long.
In Spain, the ritual signifies a dissatisfaction with the
effort of the players.
But that couldn’t be levelled at Liverpool yesterday.
As the only team that tried to win the game, it is a crying
shame they didn’t turn one point into three.
For all their dominance and possession, particularly in the
first half when chance after chance went begging, the Reds
simply couldn’t find a way through Fulham’s stubborn
That is to take nothing away from the Cottagers however.
While the participants in the half-time penalty shoot-out
presented more threat to the Kop end goal than the visitors
mustered after the break, this is a Fulham side that has
failed to win on their league travels since the opening day
of the season.
To say that was at Fratton Park would add weight to the
argument had Liverpool not floundered there to the now
relegated FA Cup finalists.
When the inquest begins it will find that Liverpool’s
failings this season have been on the road.
It is the exact opposite of last year when home form
scuppered the club's title hopes.
It is something that only adds to the frustration felt by
all those concerned.
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson set his stall out to prevent
Liverpool from scoring rather than encourage his team to do
so. His tactics got the desired effect.
Yes, they rode their luck at times but, in what was their
55th game of a season that began in earnest on the
penultimate day of July in the Intertoto Cup, perhaps Fulham
deserve the rub of the green at this stage of the most
gruelling campaign in the club's history.
With little over 25 minutes remaining, Hodgson decided to
substitute his top scorer.
Unlike his opposite number’s decision to do likewise at
Birmingham last weekend, you’re unlikely to here much more
of Bobby Zamora’s withdrawal.
The change did tell is everything about Fulham’s mindset
At this stage of the season it all comes down to differing
While a 2-1 win over Wigan last weekend saw Fulham limp over
the 40-point finishing line, they have earned the right to
bask in the achievement of reaching the semi-finals of the
Europa League in what is only their second continental
In dong so they have also earned the right to relax a
With that in mind, much of the pre-match gossip predicted
wholesale changes by Hodgson.
Instead the Fulham boss avoided the wrath of the FA by
making just two alterations to the side that beat Wolfsburg
in Germany to set up the prospect of an all-English final
against you know who.
It was Liverpool who were forced to take more severe action
with four changes from the side that swept past Benfica
Fernando Torres, of course, was the greatest loss.
How Benitez must have been tempted to say ‘I told you so’
when he revealed the striker had undergone a scan on his
knee while his teammates were banging their heads against
another brick wall.
It wasn’t for the want of trying that Liverpool failed to
turn one point into three though.
In short, their best wasn’t good enough and here within lies
the problem facing the club.
Benitez claimed at the weekend it will take a £60 million
summer spend to transform the team’s fortunes.
The way things are you wonder whether he has £6m at his
When forced to make changes to a winning team there are no
guarantees that those coming in can reproduce the same
exacting standards of his first choice side.
On paper, you would back the eleven that started yesterday
to beat a Fulham team blighted by such profound travel
The fans will just hope the latest reports of large scale
and, more importantly, long term investment finally come to
to see specialist
over knee injury
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is to
visit a specialist to assess his knee injury.
The Reds top scorer was forced to miss Sunday afternoon's
goalless Barclays Premier League draw with Fulham because of
It is a worrying development for the Reds, who had hoped the
Spain international's discomfort was not serious.
Torres, 26, was sidelined for a month after a knee operation
Manager Rafael Benitez said on Sunday evening: "He has a
problem with his knee and has gone to see a specialist. We
are waiting for news.
"We don't know really, it depends on the specialists
"He had a problem before and we were trying to protect him."
Benitez attracted howls of derision when he controversially
substituted Torres with 25 minutes remaining at Birmingham
last week with
the score 1-1.
But the manager insisted the player was tired and needed ice
treatment on his knee.
Torres recovered sufficiently to play, and score twice, in
Thursday's Europa League quarter-final win over Benfica but
again left the field early.
Liverpool are next in action when they face West Ham at
Anfield a week on Monday.
They then face Torres' former club Atletico Madrid in the
first leg of their Europa League semi-final three days
Hodgson hails Fulham heroics
By Danny Wright - Sky Sports
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson was more than
happy with the way his team battled to a richly-deserved
point in their 0-0 draw at Liverpool.
The Cottagers were outplayed for the entire match and barely
registered a chance of their own, yet they put in a superb
defensive performance to frustrate Rafa Benitez's team.
Liverpool had looked like finally breaking through in the
second-half, however Fulham defied the expected fatigue from
Thursday's Europa League victory over Wolfsburg to hold firm
and grind out a point.
Hodgson was forced into making changes prior to the trip to
Merseyside as Zoltan Gera and Simon Davies sat out with
injury, and he was delighted with the way his team adapted
to the challenge posed by the Reds.
He told Sky Sports: "I'm certainly delighted with a point
and I am pleased with the performance, although it fell far
short of what I think we're actually capable of doing.
"I think given the fact we've had the home matches against
Wolfsburg, Wigan and then the away matches against Wolfsburg
and now to Liverpool - those four matches in the space of
eight or nine days is going to take its toll.
"Especially when you lose a couple of players of the quality
of Gera and Davies and you put in players who haven't played
for a long time.
"Erik Nevland and Jonathan Greening haven't actually played
for several months now in the first team so to come in and
have to give a performance at Anfield, it was a tough ask
"But I was pretty pleased with the way we stood up and were
counted. We were under a lot of pressure between long
periods of the game but we managed to keep the shots coming
from long distance.
"I think the team now has a good understanding tactically of
what they need to do to be a good team defensively."
Fulham have a notoriously poor record on the road, winning
just once away all season, but their performance at Anfield
ensured they capped off a memorable week.
They returned from Germany with a 1-0 win to secure a
semi-final berth in the Europa League, as did Liverpool,
although it was Fulham that looked the better of the two
Liverpool were without Fernando Torres and struggled to find
a way past the stout visiting backline, who were marshalled
superbly by Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes.
And Hodgson praised the way his team stood up to the
onslaught given the quality he felt Benitez's side possessed
in their ranks.
He added: "You're certainly tested to the limit when you
play teams of Liverpool's quality because they're not only
good tactically, they're very, very good individually and
"Even when you've got your tactics and the shape of your
team right it doesn't guarantee you winning the ball back
because they've got so much skill they can deal with that
and ask other questions of you.
"They asked a lot of questions of us but I've got to say I
thought the team worked harder and stood up and we've got to
be proud. We still realise we are who we are but also
realise they're aren't many teams that come to Anfield and
"We've done it, even though we've had to sweat a bit of
blood to get there, and we've got to be pretty happy with
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has all
but conceded his side's hopes of finishing in the Barclays
Premier League top four are over.
Benitez's side fell six points behind fourth-placed
Manchester City - having played a game more - as they were
held to a frustrating goalless draw by Fulham at Anfield.
With just four games remaining, Benitez accepts he is now
unlikely to deliver on his "guarantee" of securing a
Champions League qualifying position.
The Spaniard said: "It is not in our hands, it depends on
the other teams and the difference is too much now, maybe.
"We have to keep going because it is always important to do
your best and try to finish as high as possible.
"We will try to win the rest of the games and try to win the
Benitez was asked whether he regretted his assertion he
could guarantee fourth place but avoided the question.
He said: "It will now be very difficult, we have to be
"As a manager you have to believe and support your team. We
have to keep going."
Liverpool will now turn their attention to the Europa League
- both winning it and making sure they at least finish
seventh to qualify for it again if not.
The Reds face Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals later this
This encounter could yet prove a dress rehearsal for the
final with Fulham also through to the last four.
Benitez will hope to find a cutting edge if so, as his team
dominated and created numerous chances without managing to
They badly missed top scorer Fernando Torres - missing with
a knee injury - but also found Fulham goalkeeper Mark
Schwarzer in top form.
Benitez said: "I am disappointed because I feel that we had
plenty of possession.
"We had good chances and it is a game that is normally 1-0
or 2-0, but we couldn't score."
Benitez felt Fulham should have been reduced to 10 men after
35 minutes when Jonathan Greening, already booked, blatantly
blocked a Glen Johnson run.
"I will not say too much," Benitez said. "We still deserved
to win with 11 players but it is very clear."
Fulham foil Liverpool CL hopes
By Danny Wright - Sky Sports
Fulham put in a superb rear-guard action
to inflict a severe dent on Liverpool's hopes of attaining a
Champions League place by earning a richly deserved 0-0 draw
Without the injured Fernando Torres, Liverpool lacked the
cutting edge needed to unlock a well-drilled Fulham outfit
that defended stoutly in the face of the home side's
onslaught, and they were left to rue two dropped points in
their chase for a top four spot.
Rafa Benitez's team dominated the opening half and their
best chance came when Ryan Babel floated a ball into the
channel for the Maxi Rodriguez, who took the ball down
beautifully before forcing a smart save from Mark Schwarzer.
The Australian had to be at his best again moments after as
Javier Mascherano drove a shot towards the top corner, which
the keeper did well to claw away as his side held firm going
into the interval.
The barrage on the Fulham goal continued in the second
period, however a Babel strike - turned behind by the
impressive Schwarzer - was all they had to show for their
dominance and Roy Hodgson's side left with a draw that
capped off an impressive week following their progression
into the Europa League semi-finals.
The Reds had numerous opportunities to beat their fellow
Europa League semi-finalists but drew a blank.
They also came up against a goalkeeper in good form in
Schwarzer, who produced a number of saves including a fine
stop from a powerful Babel drive.
Torres scored twice in Thursday's stunning victory over
Benfica but left the field early to rest a knee injury.
Manager Benitez had expected the striker to be fit but he
failed to even make the bench.
Dirk Kuyt and Lucas - Liverpool's other two scorers on
Thursday - also had to make do with places among the
substitutes along with Yossi Benayoun as Benitez made four
David Ngog, Alberto Aquilani, Maxi Rodriguez and Babel were
the men to come in but none made the difference against a
resolute Fulham side.
Liverpool dominated possession throughout and Jose Reina,
fresh from signing a new six-year contract, barely had a
shot to save.
Yet their dependence on Torres was again all too evident.
Fulham were able to boast their leading scorer and hero of
their European run,
Bobby Zamora, following a fitness test on an Achilles
injury, but the England World Cup hopeful endured a quiet
The Reds should have taken the lead with just three minutes
on the clock after Babel won a corner.
Steven Gerrard swung the ball in from the left and it was
headed back towards goal by Daniel Agger after touching a
It fell invitingly for Babel inside the six-yard box but the
Dutchman failed to make any connection with a volley.
Gerrard created a chance for Ngog with a superb crossfield
ball into the area but the Frenchman had to stretch and
The tone for most of the afternoon was set with Liverpool
much the livelier side but meeting continual frustration in
the final third.
Another good move by Liverpool saw Gerrard pull back a Glen
Johnson cross for Aquilani, who then flicked the ball up and
attempted an overhead kick but Schwarzer saved comfortably.
Moments later Rodriguez took the ball down in the area to
shoot but Schwarzer blocked.
Babel then delivered a good cross for Aquilani but the
Italian headed over.
Mascherano tested Schwarzer with a powerful 30-yard drive
just after the half-hour but the Australian saved well to
Greening, already booked, was fortunate to escape a second
yellow card for blocking Johnson 10 minutes before half-time
as Liverpool continued to dominate without breaking through.
Liverpool pressed on and created three good chances for
Aquilani after the break but the former Roma midfielder was
unable to take any of them.
The first he scuffed weakly at Schwarzer before winning a
corner with a shot the keeper palmed over the bar.
The ball came to him again soon after but this time he
sliced wide from 25 yards.
Fulham spent large spells defending on the edge of their own
area as Liverpool continued to push but they did so
manfully, getting plenty of players behind the ball.
Gerrard got in a shot on target but Aaron Hughes blocked and
Daniel Agger volleyed wide.
Schwarzer also seemed unbeatable, producing a brilliant save
low to his right to keep put a fierce drive from Babel,
cutting inside from the left.
Liverpool attempted to freshen up their attack by
introducing Kuyt and Benayoun midway through the second half
while Fulham withdrew the isolated figure of Zamora.
Kuyt was straight into the action and picked out Sotirios
Kyrgiakos with a good cross only for the Greek to head over.
Another substitute, Daniel Pacheco, also had a powerful
effort blocked. Time ran out for Liverpool and, not for the
first time this season, their supporters left frustrated.