Golden Past, Red Future by Paul Tomkins
By Paul Tomkins
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The young French striker was also the last in a lengthy line of replacements Houllier tried to find following his most controversial transaction: selling ‘God’ (otherwise more modestly known as Robbie Fowler) in October 2001. 2m –– had even arrived for his first training session: after three years pursuing France’s hottest young prospect, the deal came to fruition too late to save the manager his job. The striker chose Liverpool ahead of other tempting offers, on account of the club’s long-standing interest, and also the involvement of Houllier, who Cissé felt had great trust in his ability.
Ronaldo remains a great footballer, but the lack of professionalism –– or dedication –– was summed up by turning up late to training twice in the week in which he’d organised an engagement party in Paris –– which was also the week of an important game. Owen had the right attitude, but the wrong image –– a kind of semi-galáctico, unable to oust or usurp the fully-fledged variety. Glamorous, just not glamorous enough. Liverpool retain the first option on Owen if Real opt to sell and in early April Benítez said: “He is a Liverpool supporter and it’s always an option for him and us.
Tomorrow never arrived –– at least not during his tenure. There was never quite enough quality and experience for today. Houllier would never have time to see canny purchases, such as Florent Sinama-Pongolle, come to fruition. By 2004 he had used up all five years of his self-confessed ‘five-year plan’. His successor –– at the start of his own five-year plan –– would surely be given a season or two’s grace, to bed in new players as he rebuilt the side, before being expected to challenge for the ultimate prizes.