Published: Today (The Sun)
LIVERPOOL legend Ian Rush last night accused co-owner Tom Hicks of undermining the great traditions of the club.
Rush believes Hicks’ remarkable admission he had spoken to Jurgen Klinsmann about taking over at Anfield is in danger of turning Rafa Benitez’s reign into a Newcastle-style circus.
The Kop hero, who scored a record 346 goals in 660 Liverpool appearances, was as shocked as most other Anfield fans at the American’s revelations yesterday — at the very time everyone at the club needed to be pulling in the same direction.
He said: “Now people are going to say the club is a laughing stock. In many ways, you can understand that because this is not the way Liverpool normally do things.
“The tradition of the club — and the very thing that has made them so hugely respected throughout the world — is to do everything in-house. Not out in the open like this.
“Look at Newcastle — we certainly don’t want to get like that. That’s just change for the sake of it. With Harry Redknapp turning them down, it’s just going to drag on and on. That doesn’t help anyone.
“Now we all know that in football these days there’s only one winner — the owners.
“But admitting that Klinsmann was approached is poor timing and puts a lot more pressure on Rafa.
“It’s not just upsetting for Rafa but for the players and the fans as well. Everything seemed to be dying down a bit but now it’s all been blown up again.”
Hicks claimed that approaching Klinsmann was an “insurance policy” in case Benitez was tempted away from the club by the likes of Real Madrid.
Most Liverpool fans will see that as a laughable smokescreen for the real reason — that Hicks and co-owner George Gillett wanted to sack Benitez. And still do.
And that their admission they wanted Klinsmann is another attempt to undermine Benitez and drive him out of the club.
Hilariously, they also claimed they met the German to “learn as much as we could about English and European football.”
But Rush said: “With respect to Klinsmann, how can he know more about European football than Rafa?
“No one knows more than him. Look at his record with Valencia. Look at the way he’s taken Liverpool to two Champions League finals.
“As far as Europe is concerned, Benitez is the best.
“And as for English football, I think Rafa may know a bit more than Klinsmann!”
The Americans’ treatment of Benitez is in stark contrast to the softly-softly approach of the Glazer family over at Old Trafford.
Rush, 46, said: “I hate to say this but, perhaps, Liverpool should take a leaf out of United’s book. Everyone was moaning when the Glazers took over but United fans couldn’t be happier now.
“They don’t interfere, they stay in the background and they let the manager get on with it — and look at the results.
“That’s why Rafa must be allowed to try and turn things round.
“I don’t want to see him go — and nor do the fans, who will be furious with the weird timing of all this.
“He should be given until the end of the season and, if there is progress, fine. If there isn’t, then you have the summer to make changes. But not now.
“No, we’re not doing as well as we would want but you always have good and bad parts of the season.
“I can see both sides of the argument. Rafa’s rotation policy hasn’t helped but that’s what foreign managers tend to do, they pick their teams according to the opposition.
“Yes, we are 12 points behind United and Arsenal and we have drawn too many home games. So we have to start winning.
“The bottom line is we have to finish in the top four and do well in the FA Cup and Champions League.”
Typically, Hicks claims he and Gillett are now “right behind” Benitez.
But as Rush said: “What else could they say?
“In fact, they shouldn’t have said anything. Now many will look at Rafa as Dead Man Walking.
“Well, that’s part and parcel of football these days. When Claudio Ranieri can get sacked for finishing second in the league and getting to the Champions League semi-final, anything can happen.
“And it has. We’re only in January and eight Premier League managers have gone. Yes, expectations are high and owners want instant results but some of the sackings have been ridiculous.
“Sammy Lee didn’t get a chance, nor did Sam Allardyce. But Liverpool must not go down the same path.
“And they certainly must not make it all so public.
“That’s not the Liverpool way. That’s not the Liver- pool style that brought them respect and so many trophies.”