Trouble at the top?

Today’s statement from Hicks and Gillett, seemingly in response to Rafa Benitez’s apparent unhappiness in Thursday’s press conference where he was clearly irked by something.

Reports in the media speculate that Benitez is unhappy over the owner’s apparent unwillingness to release the funds to sign Javier Mascherano, despite a deal apparently being agreed. Benitez is obviously keen to tie up the midfielder long term, as is the player himself keen to tie himself to the club, but it seems Hicks and Gillett aren’t ready to release the finances yet.

Benitez has spoke in the past of moving quicker in order to get targets in and any delays on the owners behalf would no doubt upset the boss.

The statement though from Hicks and Gillett is very strange and clearly is just a message to Benitez to say wait until December, but why release it as a statement?

Personally though, I disagree with the opening line of the statement “”We made a significant investment in the playing squad during the summer”. Let’s take a look at the summer arrivals and departures counting major signings (first team squad not youth players etc.) only.

Obviously there was a heavy amount spent on Torres (reportedly ₤26m), Babel (₤11.5m), Benayoun (₤4.5m), Lucas Leiva (₤6.5m) and Leto (₤2.5m). So we have a total expenditure of around ₤51m.

But there was a significant amount brought in with the sale of Cisse (₤5.4m), Bellamy (₤7.5m), Gonzalez (₤3.5m), Sinama Pongolle (₤2.7m), Garcia (as part of the Torres deal, ₤4m) and Paletta (undisclosed) so at least ₤22m recouped. Leaving a defecit of ₤29m – less than what Man United spent on Nani and Anderson combined, plus they added Hargreaves and Tevez!

Now we have the opportunity to purchase one of, if not the best holding midfielders in the world – a player happy at the club and who fits into the team brilliantly. ₤17m for a player of Mascherano’s calibre and age is a good price. It’s understandable why Benitez is so desperate to get the deal sorted and therefore begin focussing on other targets in January.

Benitez has spoke about learning from past mistakes in the transfer market and not letting targets go – rumour was that Simao could have been tied up if the club had moved faster, and allegedly pulled out of signing Darren Bent earlier in the year and that resulted in Benitez’s infamous outburst after the Champions League Final in May.

Rafa left Valencia over the club’s failure to back him in the transfer market and control over new signings, when he famously said “I asked for a table and they bought me a lampshade”.

Let’s hope whatever the differences of opinion between board and manager currently are, I sincerely hope they can be resolved to avoid any further disagreements.