A girl tries to go on vacation only to check her twitter feed between flights and see that Rafa Benitez leaving Liverpool was eminent. Somehow I knew what I would wake up to this morning and yep...rumors of Martin O'Neill going to Liverpool.
Let's consider this, shall we? Liverpool finished seventh--seventh!--this season, which in case you aren't aware was one spot behind sixth-place Aston Villa. We could blame it on the struggles that they've had with their manager, but that seems like an easy way out. This is a team that had a beach ball score against them, for goodness sake.
Liverpool aren't the club that they pretend to be. They continue to cling to their history of being "the most successful team in English football" when the glories of their club are mostly in the past, They were consistent winners of the league back in the 1970s and 1980s, but since the formation of the Premier League, have yet to win the title. To be fair to 'Pool, they've won a few trophies a bit more recently: League Cup (2003), FA Cup (2006) and Champions League (2005).
The Reds could be a good side--a very good side. They've got Pepe Reina, who managed to pull off some stunning saves this season in order to prevent Liverpool from slipping even further down in the table. They've got Steven Gerrard as their captain, and while he had a few injuries this season he is still impressive in midfield. I'd take Yossi Benayoun on my team. And of course they've got Fernando Torres up front, and if he gets the ball it's going in the net.
Yet I still like to call them LOLerpool.
The beleaguered side seemed to spend the season slowly crumbling, to the delight of non-Liverpool supporters (particularly Everton fans). The beach ball incident, in which Sunderland beat the Reds when Pepe Reina went to save a beach ball rather than the football, was just one of the reasons for the rest of the league to start calling them LOLerpool. They just couldn't win. They fell out of the Champions League and moved into Europa, where they put up a fight for an all-England final but in the end they got knocked out in the semi-final. There were injuries. There were mistakes. There were errors of judgment (play Yossi, for goodness sake!)
Overall, Liverpool showed themselves to be a Europa-level side this season--nothing more. So why are the bookies putting the odds on MON heading to Anfield? Isn't Villa at about the same level as Liverpool?
Yes and no. They have the quality players, as I pointed out. And they do have the history, which is seductive. Taking a team that spent a season as a punchline and having them achieve the top four next year would be a fairly easy job for a manager like Martin. And if he truly wants the England gig, Liverpool seems like it would be a natural progression.
But MON's not going to go to Liverpool. He's smarter than that. He knows that the ownership is falling apart, and that Hicks and Gillett are not the men he'd like to work for. Martin realizes that if Rafa goes, it's likely Gerrard and Torres go too, giving the squad much less talent. Liverpool have no money and they've got to go through a rebuilding process. It is almost inconceivable that MON would insert himself into that mess rather than stay at Villa Park, where he's been steadily building up a high quality side.
The rumors can fly--and they'll continue to. Martin O'Neill won't be going to Liverpool for next season. And if this didn't convince you, remember that Randy Lerner told us it wasn't going to happen: "Liverpool are not taking Martin O'Neill away from Aston Villa as far as I'm concerned." The star of Clueless sums it up with her trademark phrase: as if!
A throw-down between Randy and Tom/George would probably be funny, though.