Rafa contract and European expansion

So that’s another annoying boil on the club’s backside lanced. Rafa has finally, after numerous drafts it seems, signed a new contract to keep him at Anfield until 2014.

Many will ask why all this fuss about a contract? Time and time again football has proved that these things aren’t worth the paper they are written on. However, hopefully this will stop speculation, for now, over Rafa’s future, until we fail to qualify for the Champions League or he takes us down into the Championship! Joking aside this is actually a deal that has wider significance.

Now that his players know that Rafa will be at the club presumably they will be able to make clearer decisions on their own futures? Dirk Kuyt for one has stated that his contract talks have stalled as he wants to know that Rafa will be a club before he signs. It’s uncertain how the news will affect Daniel Agger’s on going talks but perhaps players such as Torres, Mascherano and Aureilo, who have all been very vocal in their support for Rafa, will be more inclined to stay when their deals are up for renewal? If Rafa did leave in a year or so time even players such as Steven Gerrard might have considered this is as a natural full stop and thought about moving on?

Hopefully Rafa now has the delegated power to do what he wanted to do. It always confused me that the reported sticking point was over transfers. Cleary no one at Anfield is going to sign a player the manager doesn’t want (even Robbie Keane) yet Rafa can’t expect to just buy players willy nilly without recourse to others over areas such as the finances? Tom Hicks, ever keen to jump on the bandwagon when there is good news about, threw some light on this?

“Rafa was never wanting control of the transfer policy, he just wanted to make sure we had better decision-making capability and that we moved quicker than we had in the past. Rafa will make the recommendations but in English football it’s very important that the chief executive should make the financial decisions not the manager.”

This seems to square with Rafa’s previous moans about Rick Parry and the slowness of his negotiations? Anyway it is a welcome development. I was slowly wondering if things were beginning to get to Rafa. There’s the rant and all the pressure associated with the title challenge not to mention a marked increase in snide personal comments about his style, general demeanour and manner which are slowly inching towards xenophobia. Thankfully Rafa is bigger than this boorish, distasteful, nonsense

“My heart is with Liverpool, so I’m delighted to sign this new deal. I love the club, the fans and the city and with a club and supporters like this, I could never say no to staying…. The club is greatly respected around the world due to its incredible history and tremendous heritage. It is my aim to uphold those values and help create a new chapter in our history.”

As always, it promises to be an interesting read?

And so to today’s Champions League draw. This time an otherwise routine event has been clouded by UEFA’s reticence to guarantee that we won’t have to play the second leg on 15th April, the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough. UEFA and particularly Michel Platini have come out some pretty feckless nonsense in the past but surely they won’t be stupid enough to ignore our request? It is a logistical problem with a solution that shouldn’t even be beyond them?

And the draw? It’s tempting to discuss who I’d like but hell lets chuck the balls in the hat, or bowl, and just hope. I guess the chances of us not needing our passports for this round are high and I’ve a feeling, probably because of last Saturday and the fact that I’m great advocate of the phrase “what goes around comes around”, that our dealings with the Mancs aren’t over yet for the season. If not in this round then beyond if we are fortunate enough to progress?

Does it worry me? After Saturday it shouldn’t but of course it always does!

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