The gulf between Manchester United and Liverpool looks set to increase even further, says Geoff Shreeves.
Last Updated: 23/03/10 8:54am
"Birthday to you, birthday to you, birthday to you, birthday dear Fernando, birthday to you". I wonder if that's what Fernando Torres sang to himself on Saturday when he turned 26.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted the distinct lack of "Happy" and keen Liverpool observers will not be remotely surprised.
Apart from still being in the latter stages of Europe's secondary competition, just what is there for the Spanish striker or anybody else at the club and their magnificent supporters to be upbeat about? Would The Kop really be jubilant if their team won the Europa League but finished outside the top four?
That question in itself underlines how far this once mighty club has fallen. To be clinging forlornly at the hope of being the fourth best team in the land at the end of the season is a quite scary realignment of ambition. The fact that it now looks increasingly unlikely with Rafa Benitez admitting Liverpool are now relying on other clubs slipping up, would have been unthinkable at one time, even during Rafa's reign.
Manchester United are closing in on the right to be recognised as champions of England more times than anyone else. Sir Alex hasn't so much as knocked Liverpool off their perch; he has absolutely stuffed the famous Liver Bird. The two clubs are currently level on 18 league titles apiece but one of them is going forwards and the other backwards.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect for any Liverpool fan is there would not appear to be even a glimmer of hope. Normally clubs sack the manager if results are not acceptable. Apparently Liverpool cannot afford to do this because of a clause in Benitez contract means they would have to pay him up in full.
Rafa himself has told me on numerous occasions privately that he loves the club and would never walk away. Which ever way you look at it, he's going nowhere.
Investors are not exactly falling over themselves to put money into a club currently controlled by two warring owners, who a large number of the supporters blame for the current plight. Hence there is very little money for new signings and the club is unable to attract the calibre of player it once was. The nightmare scenario for The Koppites is that their star players decide they can't hang around.