With a matter of five games remaining in the Premier League, the end of the season is almost upon us. Which means that many clubs will already be plotting their revival on the next.
Out with the old and in with the new, will ordinarily be the order of the summer for most clubs as they seek reinforcements amongst their playing squad. Only this summer may yet see the biggest movers and shakers in football occur in the dugout.
Only one team wins the league, and so 19 teams will be classified as losers – particularly if you happen to finish in the bottom three. However, this year comes a fourth team that have extra cause for concern.
Liverpool were acknowledged as serious title contenders having run Manchester United close the previous season. Nine months on since the opening day of the 2009/10 season and Liverpool face not only losing out on yet another Premier league title; they also seem in danger of becoming the biggest underachievers in 2009/10, by failing to finish fourth and, therefore, missing out on the final Champions League qualification spot for next season.
Liverpool sit glued to sixth position in the league, six points adrift of Manchester City in fourth, having played a game more. With only four matches remaining for Rafa Benitez’s men – bar a miracle – Gerrard and co will have to brace themselves for yet another stint playing in the good gestured Europa League.
However, Liverpool may find themselves heading into the competition as reigning champions, if they manage to get past Athletico Madrid and either Hamburg/Fulham in the final. But such a feat will do little in softening the blow to Liverpool’s star players, particularly if other clubs – i.e. Chelsea or Manchester City – come in for them offering not only vast amounts of money, but a quick-fire return to Europe’s biggest stage.
Yet, will that be an incentive for Torres and Gerrard to remain faithful to the Merseysiders? Unrest at boardroom level continues to disrupt the club, with Benitez becoming increasingly impatient at the lack of support from the board – particularly financially.
Benitez Juventus bound
But the board argue Benitez has had ample money to spend in order to create a Liverpool side that should be equipped to sustain a strong charge on both the league and Europe’s biggest prize, every season. Failing to win the league and also losing out on Champions League qualification, arguably places more blame on the manager than the men upstairs.
Even disgruntled Liverpool fans are starting to vent their anger at the manager, with many suggesting the Spaniard has achieved all he can at the club.
Reports indicate Benitez is heading out of Liverpool and the English game – towards pastures new in Italy. Juventus seem the popular choice amongst the tabloids, yet such small-talk remains unreliable.
But if Liverpool decide to part company with Benitez, they will do no better than filling the position with the Marseille manager Didier Deschamps.
Despite telling reporters that he will shun the French national team in favour of honouring his two-year contract that he signed at the beginning of the current campaign, it may be a little harder to ignore Liverpool should they seriously put together a proposal to poach the Frenchman.
If Liverpool only take a glance at Deschamps’ managerial CV, they will soon realise it will be a punt worth taking.
Miracle man Deschamps
Deschamps started his managerial career at Monaco. The former Monaco midfielder led the side to the French League Cup title in 2002/03 before guiding them to their first Champions League final in 2004, eventually losing out to the special one’s Porto 3-0 in Germany. The following season started badly and quickly fell apart, with Deschamps resigning after a heated disagreement with the club’s president.
Role on Juventus in 2006 and all that tasteless baggage of the Italian side being relegated to Serie B after being found guilty of match-fixing their way towards the Scudetto title. No bother. In comes the Frenchman to take the Old Lady back to Serie A at the first attempt. Add winning the Birra Moretti Cup – after defeating Inter and Napoli – and you have Deschamps working miracles yet again.
Unsurprisingly, Deschamps resigned shortly after Juventus were confirmed Serie B champions. Unsurprisingly, it was reported the Frenchman left Juventus due to ongoing clashes with the board.
A return to Marseille was next up for a manager who already had a reputation of being his own man. Deschamps signed a two-year contract last summer, and nine months into his first season as manager, Marseille currently occupy top spot in Ligue 1. Many are now backing them to stay there come May, suggesting a possible league title to go along with the Coupe de la Ligue they won back in March – the club’s first major trophy since 1995.
It seems Deschamps’ expertise lies in rejuvenating clubs from the depths of despair. Ask any Liverpool fan today, and they’ll tell you Anfield has seen far better days. The club are seeped in despondency, with an uncertain future very much a reality.
Come the summer, should Liverpool appoint Didier Deschamps as their new manager if Benitez leaves, it will be the club’s most astute signing ever.
But should Liverpool part company with Rafa Benitez? And if so, is Didier Deshamps the right man to take Liverpool back to winning league titles?