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Two years too late, Purslow sees Rafa as Reds boss

THE NEWS last night that Kenny Dalglish had, officially, been sacked by FSG was big news. If Liverpool’s place in the football world is diminishing nobody seems to have told the news outlets. It wasn’t just sports pages, sports bulletins or local radio talking about the end of Kenny’s second stint as boss and views were sought from ex-players, reporters and fans.

One person whose views were thought relevant is the man who – some argue – got Liverpool FC into this situation of trying to find the right manager in the first place. Christian Purslow was installed, probably by demand of the banks, as the club’s MD in 2009.

Purslow was announced as MD after Liverpool had finished second in the league. The season that followed saw the manager undermined and the club head at speed towards administration whilst the man sent in to save it was pretending all was rosy financially to anybody who’d listen.

It was that pretence – including untrue statements that there had been £20m spent on transfers over and above what came in from sales – that helped set the scene for Rafa’s ultimate departure. For reasons best known to themselves, some fans wanted Rafa out even as he was taking the club towards that second-place finish. “This club exists to win trophies!” they cried, probably literally. Before long they were being used to add to the pressure Rafa was under as certain elements in the boardroom did all they could to distract from the genuine, threatening, problems the club now had with its lenders.

The tactics were dirty.

Benítez explained after he’d left how things hadn’t been as promised after finishing second: “It’s strange. This year everything changed from the beginning,” he told Radio City. “People in the club changed and the approach to everything was different. Clearly it was a question in the beginning of controlling the money we could spend or not, and everything was different to the past. We were so close to winning the title the year before that everybody was expecting something more but we couldn’t do it.”

By allowing fans, and the disinterested elements of the media, to think Liverpool had still invested in improving the squad the club allowed those fans to expect improvement on second place. As all other clubs invested in improving and strengthening their squad Liverpool made a transfer profit and the squad was effectively weakened. Liverpool were expected to do more with less and the pressure was on from the day the first ball was kicked.

Today Christian Purslow is hoping all of this is forgotten. He now gets called in to give his views on running a football club. The man who played a large part in Liverpool moving from league runners-up to relegation candidates is probably a good person to call in for his opinion on running a club – but not exactly in the way he has in mind.

Speaking about Dalglish’s departure, Purslow told Radio 4: “I think it’s strictly a business decision. The business was acquired by this new investment group only 18 months ago. They did so with the intention of making a return on that investment and the two key elements of that, building a stadium and getting the team back into the Champions League, there’s been very little progress in either of those.

“I think with the investment not on plan Kenny Dalglish has carried the can for that.”

Purslow played a key role in swapping Benítez for Roy Hodgson, the man who lasted six months before the new owners got rid with the club heading for the Championship. The former MD was asked who Liverpool should be looking at: “I think in terms of heavyweights, people with real track records of success at the highest level in European football, I think there are two obvious names – Rafa Benitez and Fabio Capello.”

The man who played a massive role in the departure of Benítez was no recommending him for the job.

After Rafa’s departure from Anfield, Purslow claimed: “The Board didn’t sack Rafa. Rafa’s exit was about as clear cut a case of mutual consent as I have ever been involved in in my life.” Rafa had been pushed out and Purslow had won his little battle, although he didn’t stay much longer. He would be the first casualty of the FSG takeover, his resignation accepted without pause for thought.

Now, all that forgotten, Purslow says Benítez, and former England boss Capello, would be good for LFC: “They’re both serial winners, they both know the job inside out and have a proper track record.”

Purslow thinks FSG would be wrong to go for a “younger up and coming manager”. He said: “I think that would be a very risky thing to do, given this investment is not where they need it to be.”

When Purslow was at Anfield and with the club – as he recently claimed – at serious risk of going into administration he certainly didn’t play the role of a man here to save the club money and help it survive the financial problems it was facing.

On a public website (Linkedin) the former PA of the club’s former MD explained what her role consisted of. It was all as expected really, including: “My day was often spent organising social meetings, booking restaurants, and liaising with many high profile people and celebrities.”

Maybe these are also considered to be fairly normal responsibilities for a PA at a club on the verge of going out of existence: “I was also called upon to help arrange family holidays, family weekend trips away, which included sourcing accommodation etc., and liaising with the appropriate company throughout.

“In my role, it was vital that I kept in constant contact with the family chauffeur in order for things to run smoothly. Occasional liaison with the family housekeeper was also required.”

She was also, despite having been at the club longer than her final boss at the club, a victim of FSG’s takeover: “Regrettably, I was made redundant when the Managing Director stepped down in November 2010.”

Purslow, before he did step down, said: “I don’t have a contract. It would cost the new owner nothing to say the day after he buys the club, ‘Thanks very much but we don’t need you.’” The club’s accounts show Liverpool paid out a total of £8.4m on terminated contracts during the period covering Purslow’s departure. How much of that went to Hodgson, Mike Kelly or Purslow wasn’t revealed.

Author: Jim Boardman

Writes on here and talks and writes on The Anfield Wrap website, magazine and podcast . Also writes for Mirror Football. Twitter: @jimboardman.

32 Comments

  1. Spot on Jim. I do hope fsg and their advisers would read this and act upon it.

    • lfc need to buy players as the Americans bought Lfc at only half on the clown prices .where are the money supposedly to be put in lfc.All the Fans where are the money to be put after purchasing liverpool business by fenway.And don’t forget after the sales of torres,babel fenway purchased suarez and caroll.

  2. Difficult to assess Purslow’s role in Rafa existing LFC two years ago, however Jim is probably right in saying he helped push our best manager of the last 20 years out the door. At the same time, I think Purslow is right that Rafa would be the best man to take LFC forward, perhaps the only low-risk option to do so (other than the Special One) available to the Liverpool owners (I am less convinced that Capello would be a good option, especially given his travails with the England team and his poor language skills). A young, new manager may be a success – but then so could King Kenny have been a success if he had been given more time. So, even if I have an issue with Purslow’s role in Rafa’s exit (whereby to his credit he also played a major role in getting Gillett and Hicks out), he is right in asking for Rafa to be re-installed. In fact, his opinion carries even more weight given his past knowledge of Rafa and the fact that he has had to reverse his stance in asking for Rafa to come back.

  3. RAFFA IS THE ONLY ONE WHO WOULD BE THE MESSIAH

  4. Liverpool is now a madhouse!, the club is a joke now. To sack KK is ludicrous to say the least, what sensible manager would come to work for FSG?. They are clowns pure and simple, they have not got a clue about building a team over time.

    KK only needed a right-winger and goalscorer for next season, that would have helped us massively. To go to Wembley 3 times and 2 finals was a start, he also brought Uefa Cup football too. It was a steady platform going into next season.

    He had a rebuilding job to do so what did FSG want?, they are unrealistic. Next season will be much better as the new players will be aware of the pressure, to sack him is totally unacceptable!!!!

    • Tony

      Next year will be a relegation battle – things are a lot worse than people think.

    • Tony, the core of the 2008/2009 team still around and KD added 120 mil new players to the squad. If you can’t beat the likes of Wigan, Norwich, Swansea, Westbrom, Blackburn at home what more you can expect in the coming season? Obviously KD is out of plot now….

    • Unfortunately, Tony, I have to agree entirely… They have set the bar very high now, & which manager will not be under a huge amount of pressure the minute they arrive?

  5. All very jolly i suppose but lets the ordinary fan (or punter as Kenny used to say) know what goes on in the world of multi millionaires,Rafa was part of a `very British coup`between Purslow,Parry and the banks all trying to keep their hands clean whilst waving them round in the mud we as fans could only see. When you look back Rafa was THE wheeler and dealer as far as players go and in my opinion its exactly what FSG need right now and in my opinion they should bring Rafa back and link him up with Kenny to sort tactics and players between them,although it wont proberbly happen but i shudder to think what may happen if they dont get it right. YNWA

  6. Is Ian Ayre any different…? Christ, are we going to let him find us a manager? I am more worried for the future of Liverpool FC than I have been at any other time in recent years. I think this time we really DO stand at the yawning precipice, and unless FSG come up with concrete plans for the club’s future in short order, pre-season will be a catastrophe, and you can forget about any kind of meaningful season after that.

    • I have to agree with Andrew. Please, Let’s not hope that Ian Ayre is responsible for selecting the next Manager. I hope someone can confirm he is not? Jim? Hello?

      Okay, I will say who I feel should take on the reigns. 1st choice for me, Pep Guardiola I know not going to happen. 2nd choice, Rafael Benitez. 3rd choice, Jurgen Klopp I know not going to happen either. Which leaves 4th choice, Unai Emery did a fantastic job at Valencia with no money, having to sell every year. And got them to finish 3rd every darn season with players leaving left, right and centre, I believe he is a good shout. He is a manager if not Rafa is the one I believe should be given a chance. He is very ambitious too and not afraid to get stuck in to any other manager who tries to be naughty.

  7. I agree Tony..

  8. I would personally love to see Rafa come back – when allowed to work to his full potential, he is one of the best managers in the world. Our second place and his results abroad prove that. I have to admit that I said right from the beginning that, as much as I love Kenny – he wasn’t the right man in the modern game.

    Tony’s comment is exactly why the bad decision of making Kenny full time boss was utterly naive of FSG in the first place. Fans got all hyped up on nostalgia and didn’t think of the need for a long term solution. Kenny’s transfers, tactics and team selection were awful all season. He’d only realise and act on his poor choices too late (FA Cup final being a prime example).

    Kenny was great to steady the ship, job done, beginning of 2011-12 season we should have moved him up to DoF and brought back Rafa or got another top manager, whilst the job, the transfer kitty and the team were still an attractive proposition.

  9. It’s sad that Kenny’s gone but let’s see what FSG do next, they might have a plan up their sleeves after all.

  10. dont trust word he says, what i do trust is that G & H & the scumedia & “fannies” who helped force out Rafa, also have blood on their hands now concerning the removal of Kenny by the FSG mob who know less about footy than I know about rocket science.. the only man capable and who would be trusted by most (core) Supporters is Rafa..his bond with Liverpool fc & the community is great and he understands us..anything else will result in total revolt against FSG..!

  11. The only way Rafa Benitez could be considered is if Paco is back working with him, 7 under the guidance of a DOF. Rafa was excellent, but that all changed when he fell out with Paco. I know the football will be dire & boring but we can’t have everything.

  12. It took SAF 7 seasons to win his first premiership title. The same was going to happen to Rafa when he led LFC to 2nd in 2008/2009. Another 40 to 50 mil investment to buy 2 top class players (Rafa could have probably signed Mata and Aquero back then) would very likely have seen LFC winning their first title since 1990. Nevertheless 30 mil per year was used to serve the loan interest from 2008 to 2010 by the two Americans owners…..and transfer funds were merely generated from CL prize money as well as sell to buy policy…..is Rafa the one to be blamed?

  13. No one is blaming Rafa for anything, in fack it’s just such a pity Kenny didn’t get the support from the fans that Rafa enjoyed. But Paco Ayrsteran was an essential part of the Rafa success story & he did loose the plot around the time he fell out with him. Maybe a clean slate is what’s required now. Let’s just hope all our best players don’t feel it’s time for a move too.

  14. Rafa is like that ex-girlfriend lurking around in the backround the whole time. You probably regret dumping her & you’d probably love a one night stand with her but deep down you know it would be the wrong think to do (unless you’d had a few). Seeing as loyalty is a thing of the past with owners & fans alike I think people should keep their fond memories of Rafa & not see him shamefully treated once again in the same manner as King Kenny.

  15. I understand what you’re saying Mate.And if this is what’s come to it’s a sad day for all of us.
    But what do we do?I think back to that Glory Day when Hicks and Gillette talked about a “spade in the ground” within a few days for the New Stadium.

    And this lot are of the same breed.All mouth and trousers!

    As football supporters and Liverpudlians we let our hearts rule our heads most of the time.We can see so much good in what Dalglish was doing and we forgave him for the odd slip ups! That’s what football supporters do most of the time.We’re born optimists!

    If we viewed things in terms of pounds shillings and pence and value for money we’d probably go to the opera every week and see the same old things week in and week out.

    But we don’t because we have an emotional and sentimental attatchment to our Club.

    So.I’m with you! I love everything Benitez stands for.But the again I loved everything Dalglish stood for!

  16. We are doomed, Rafael Benitez is not a candidate, With those vetting the new manager thinks he would not fit into the new structure they are planning.

    Well here is a solution for the owners. Interview Rafael Benitez first and hear his ideas out before deciding. Can they at least hear him out? Or will they?

    I hope they do that at the very least. And I hope Rafa will bend and give it one more crack at the whip.

    I am surprised not a single note on Unai Emery, They are even eyeing Capello and not Unai Emery. I know a few of writers in Spain rate him highly like Phill Ball and Sid Lowe just to name a few.

    Jim, Are you getting news on anything going on?

  17. There is one other candidate who should be seriously considered who has over achieved year in and year out with no money, plays good football when given the chance, good with media, well respected and who knows the culture and history of the city and its fans;

    David Moyes

    It we can get over the tribal points of views this a far more realistic candidate than most of the daft suggestions doing the rounds.

    Discuss?

  18. I hope FSG give Rafa Benitez another shot…he has unfinished business to complete at LFC and for me is up their with the best in the game. However first thing Rafa would need to do is get rid of Jamie Carragher…if i can remember it was him and purslow that played a big part in him leaving.

  19. I’m not a Liverpool fan but I do have a slightly off topic question for Jim (although I think it is relevant as you discuss the whole structre of LFC in this piece).

    I have never seen a detailed piece on the issues about Liverpool’s stadium and why anfield can’t be redeveloped or a new stadium built elsewhere. I have a vague idea of the reasons (planning issues around Anfield, expense of building somewhere else etc) but I have never seen it written out in a detailed piece. Nor have I seen an explanation as to why it is not possible to lobby the Council to overcome any issues that there are.

    Is there any hope that you or one of the contributers on the Anfield Wrap would consider doing such a piece?

    I think it would be of genuinely interesting. As an outsider it just seems so strange that a football city cannot come to an agreement to ensure liverpool (and dare I say Everton) get new stadiums.

    Just a thought.

    • I’ll see if I can either do something or find something. You’re right that the blocks to redeveloping have usually been down to expense (not just construction costs but also including logistics of moving the dressing rooms while work goes on and reduced capacity during that time and so on). Also some issues relating to planning and getting the land needed and so on. I think the council are keen to see the situation resolved so I can only assume the planning issues are major ones.

      As for moving away from Anfield to build it I don’t think there’s a reason other than “Anfield is our home”, I would be surprised if it was more expensive to build elsewhere in Liverpool, certainly in years gone by when perhaps there was more funding going around.

  20. This sounds more like an insight into your personal life than a realistic interpretation of what Rafas return could mean for the club and fans. Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, mine is based on 5 years in which we saw our great team become 1 of the most feared teams in europe. I for one would like to experience those highs again. BRING BACK RAFA!

  21. Hey All,

    I just got an idea. I don’t know if it will fly. But here goes. Okay we all know that Rafa does not like to work with Director of Football right? But. think for a moment if he could work with someone he already knows?

    Like Vicente Del Bosque as Director of Football and Benitez as a manager. They worked very well together in the past. Why not the owners think far ahead and get a European pedigree manager who is already available. Just an idea.

  22. Jim,

    This is my first time on the site and I can say that I have been to many LFC forums.
    THIS ARTICLE IS BRILLIANT….WELL DONE.

    I’m loath to recommend it to some of the LCF forums because they’d debase this.

    I’m glad I found this site and again a truly eye opening, well researched article keep up the good work!

    Septimus_Red

  23. Get one of these experienced managers and let us place Rodolfo borrell as an understudy for the next two to three years. Though not happy about Kenny’s sack but the owners has to do what they had to do.

    Please a new stadium with 80,000 seater capacity to boost our status.