Hansen predicts bleak future for Liverpool
The sacking of Rafa Benitez leaves the club facing a long period of mediocrity, according to former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen.
Hansen, writing in his column for the Daily Telegraph, claimed the painful truth for Liverpool and their supporters is that Benitez's replacement at Anfield will find a worse squad at his disposal than that the Spaniard inherited from Gerard Houllier in 2004.
"You could even argue that Liverpool are in their worst state since Bill Shankly arrived at the club more than 50 years ago. You could be looking at three to four years before Liverpool get back to where the club should be," he wrote.
Benitez has spent just shy of £300 million on players since he arrived at Liverpool, including £20.3 million on Robbie Keane, £20 million on Alberto Aquilani, £11.5 million on Ryan Babel and £7 million on Andrea Dossena, and Hansen feels mistakes in the transfer market have ultimately cost him his job.
Hansen said: "Benitez made too many mistakes with too many players. In recent seasons, he hasn't got any right beyond Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano and, possibly, Glen Johnson. They were all big-money buys and players of proven quality.
"Benítez has had money to spend, but when he has bought players in the mid-range market of £3-5 million, they just have not been good enough and that is why Liverpool's bench has been so poor in recent months.
"Regardless of the ownership issue, which clearly needs resolving as quickly as possible, Liverpool need rebuilding on the pitch, but if I were in charge at Anfield and I had money to give to the manager, would I give it to Benitez?
"The answer would be a categorical 'no' because he has spent too much money on average players and we are now seeing the fruits of that because Liverpool are a long way short of competing to finish in the top four, never mind fighting to win the big boys' trophies."
While Hansen does not think Liverpool will slip into a financial crisis of Leeds proportions, he concedes that the Reds may have to endure three or four years of mediocrity while the ownership crisis is resolved.
He said: "The ownership problem will not go away until the club is sold and while the owners want much more for their stake than potential buyers are willing to pay, it is difficult to foresee a speedy resolution.
"In this day and age, will any prospective buyer not want some return on their investment? Probably not, but all that Liverpool fans can hope for is that whoever buys out Tom Hicks and George Gillett will have the club's interest at heart and that they won't use it as a money tool.
"The only light at the end of the tunnel for Liverpool at the moment is that they still have Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. Unfortunately, if Gerrard and Torres go, there will be no light and a dark tunnel for Liverpool."