Liverpool legend Smith slams owners for cutting Benitez adrift in Europe

25 November 2009 02:15
Liverpool legend Tommy Smith has put the blame on the club's American owners for the failure to make the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Last night's 1-0 win at Debrecen was not enough because Fiorentina beat Lyon by the same score to ensure Rafael Benitez's side will be contesting the Europa League after Christmas.

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And Smith, who won two European Cups with Liverpool during a 16-year career at Anfield, is pointing the finger not at Benitez but George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

Tough-tackling defender Smith scored when Liverpool 3-1 to beat Borussia Monchengladbach in 1977, and admits he is heartbroken at their not reaching the last 16.

He said: 'Europe's upper echelons is where Liverpool Football Club belongs. So being dumped out of a Champions League group which anyLiverpool side should ordinarily have been able to conquer, is not goodenough.

No laughing matter: Liverpool owners George Gillett (right) and Tom Hicks are to blame for the Champions League fiasco insists Tommy Smith.

.who scored when Liverpool won the 1977 European Cup

'Liverpool supporters are magnificent and unique - and the reason why Rafael Benitez and everyone at Anfield knows theydeserve far better than they're suddenly getting this season.

'And the question is, will the owners, who hardly ever turn up to watch a game,either sell up or somehow give him the money he needs to ensure thisstuttering and deeply frustrating season is not repeated?'

Smith added it was 'bitterly disappointing' to slip into Europe's second-tier trophy and paid tribute to the Anfield fans.

Magnificent: Liverpool fans in Hungary

He added: 'My thoughts last night went out to those magnificent Liverpool fans who stood in the rain in Hungary at the end on a cold November night singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone.'

'They weren't booing, screaming at players or calling for the manager's head. No. They stuck with the team and shared the deep disappointment, singing their hearts out to try and lift everyone's spirits.

'Certainly those fans will give the manger time to sort it out.'

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Source: Daily_Mail

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