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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
The parties went on long into the night. For the third time in four seasons, Liverpool were through to the final four of Europe's most prestigious competition. Rafa Benitez had asked and the Anfield faithful had provided. The old stadium was rocked on its foundations by the noisy supporters and at the end, with 'You'll Never Walk Alone' reverberating around the city, it was hard even for a lower league cynic like myself not to be touched by the raw emotion of the moment. Liverpool are a special club, there's no getting away from it.

It's easy to see why there was so much interest in them when David Moores decided to sell up. Who wouldn't want to buy into something this powerful? I'm told that Moores only ever wanted the best for his beloved football team. He was aware that he couldn't fund a new stadium, that he couldn't provide Abramovich-like transfer funds and he was terrified that if he stayed on out of pride, he might be the man at the helm as Liverpool sank out of contention for honours, swamped by the wave of new money in the Premier League. Sadly, he somehow managed to put the club in the hands of people even less able than himself to provide for the future.

Tom Hicks' sudden decision to demand the resignation of Rick Parry is annoyingly inevitable. With the city on a high, why not do something to plunge the club back into crisis? In life, I've always believed that you should stick to what you're best at and Hicks excels in making stupid decisions and causing trouble. Benitez has worked extremely hard to rescue Liverpool's season, in spite of the off the field chaos, and for the club to find itself in the ascendancy for fourth place and still chasing European glory is a phenomenal achievement. What will he make of this latest development?

Hicks wasn't even at Anfield for their crucial Champions League match in midweek, he was off in America watching his baseball team start the new season. That's the baseball team whose fans he reassured in a magazine interview, saying that he wouldn't be taking money from them to fund Liverpool, it would be the other way round. I'm starting to warm to little George Gillett, the other member of the duo, who actually did have the decency to make it to Anfield. He's been as astounded as the rest of us by Hicks' behaviour. He has recently said that his relationship with his fellow American has become untenable, but it's their inability to communicate that may have blocked out the only light at the end of the tunnel. Rumours coming out of Dubai suggest that the DIC group are now exasperated by this soap opera and are pulling out of negotiations.

It's a horrible state of affairs and the longer it goes on, the more damage it will do to Liverpool's hopes of regaining their position at the top of English football. Who is in charge of that club? Hicks? Gillett? Parry? It certainly isn't Benitez who now has no idea who he is reporting to, who he will go to for transfer funds and who will have the ultimate decision over his future. It is reported that a number of clubs in Spain have made their interest known to him, including Barcelona. Benitez is an ardent Real Madrid fan, so it's unlikely to happen, but how long before he does seek an escape route?

He wants to stay at Liverpool. His family is settled in the area, he is loved by the fans and he adores the ethos of the football team. But if AC Milan come calling, as they may well do given their parlous position, who could blame him for leaving now?