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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
The return of Robbie Keane to White Hart Lane may have brought an end to his miserable six months on Merseyside, but it leaves Liverpool fans with one pertinent question; just what on earth is going on behind the scenes at their football club?

On the pitch, in their most important season for years, they face a grueling title run-in with barely any cover for Fernando Torres. Off it, the boardroom bickering intensifies, the two owners have to be sat 12 seats apart from each other in the director's box, the manager is at war with the chief executive and they've just made what appears to be a GBP8m loss on a player in six months. For a club with as heavy a debt burden as Liverpool, that's insane.

Keane was always a mystifying choice. For that much money you expect a world class player, capable of lifting the team to another level, not someone who hadn't played in the Champions League for eight years, who lacked composure, who wasn't exceptionally quick and who had no chance of fitting into a formation that looked as solid and balanced as anything seen at the club for some time. Keane was always a decent player, very decent on occasion, but he wasn't what Liverpool needed at all.

The rumours around Anfield suggest that Rafa Benitez never wanted him in the first place and that the player was forced on him by chief executive Rick Parry, but that doesn't really add up. Benitez was gushing in his praise of Keane before the transfer, so much so that Tottenham threatened to make an official complaint to the Premier League and backed down only after Liverpool made a charitable donation to the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. Either Benitez really did rate Keane or he was doing one heck of a job towing the company line against his better judgement.

At the heart of this expensive folly is a simple battle for power. Benitez was angered that the board refused to increase their summer bid for Gareth Barry by the couple of million that would have sealed the deal, especially as they eventually hemorrhaged four times as much on this transaction. Who is responsible? Parry? The Gruesome Twosome?

Benitez is currently fighting tooth and nail for a clause in his contract that would give him total control of transfer policy, so if he was the one who targeted Keane then this is very awkward timing. If he wasn't, then no wonder he wants control.

But instead of spreading rumours through the local journalists or launching into rants at press conferences, perhaps everyone concerned could all do something much more constructive. Perhaps they could remember which club they represent and then quickly find a solution to this self-destructive cold war. Liverpool need accountability, so that mistakes like these do not go unpunished. They need unity, because winning a title is difficult enough when everyone at the club is pulling in the same direction, but it's impossible when personal rivalry takes precedence over team success. Most of all though, they need dignity. It might have been depressing for Keane to be messed around like this, but it's a whole lot more upsetting for any Reds fans who care about the image of their club around the world. In the space of six sorry months, Liverpool have been made to look like they have no idea what they're doing.