It was an interesting study in contrasts as Liverpool visited Newcastle on Saturday. On the one hand, Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce is loathed by fans but enjoys the support of the team's management. On the other, Liverpool's Rafael Benitez is nearly at war with the team's American owners, but is loved by the Reds faithful. Prior to Saturday's game, Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett told the Benitez to "quit talking about new players and coach those he has already." The Spanish manager is keen to add new players in the January transfer window.
Benitez hit back by implying that the Americans' didn't understand the importance of the European transfer system. "'We know what the transfer window market means, we know what it means to sign free — and I insist free — players now," he said. "I was not asking to spend money." Meanwhile, several papers across Britain, including the Daily Mail, report that Benitez is about to be sacked -- and possibly replaced by Jose Mourinho. The ironic thing is that Liverpool is starting to play much better, having won its last three games in all competitions by a combined margin of 13-0 -- including Saturday's 3-0 victory at St. James' Park.
Newcastle's problems, meanwhile, are all on the field. Saturday's home loss was preceded by a massive 4-1 defeat to Portsmouth in the Magpies' last match at St. James' Park. Newcastle has now taken one point from its last four matches. Throughout the match against Liverpool, fans could be seen chanting, "You don't know what you're doing." Despite the club's poor form, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has yet to issue Allardyce any ultimatums.