Ownership saga is no excuse for Liverpool's bad start, says Rush

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The Independent Football

The former Liverpool striker Ian Rush insists the current players cannot use the club's off-field issues as an excuse for their poor performances this season.

New England Sports Ventures (NESV) this week agreed a £300m deal to buy the Reds, although this is being challenged by Tom Hicks and George Gillett and will be the subject of a High Court hearing next week.

The sale of the club has been ongoing since April but issues surrounding Hicks and Gillett's ownership have been dragging on much longer than that.

Liverpool's start to the season is their worst since 1953-54 – when they were relegated – and they are 18th in the Premier League with just six points.

However, Rush believes it is too easy for the players to hide behind the ongoing uncertainty about the club's future. "It is easy to use that as an excuse but when I played we just got on with the game," Rush said.

"It is easy to criticise when you are not doing well. You can easily blame everyone but we have just got to get behind everyone. We are all in it together, the owners, the management, the players and the supporters.

"If we are all fighting against each other it is not working so what we have to do is for everyone to get behind each other and be positive.

"People say we are in the bottom three. I look at it and say we are five points from the Champions League [places].

"Two wins and you never know how things might change. That's the way I look at it."

Rush, speaking at a McDonald's grassroots football summit in Belfast, added that the derby at Goodison Park a week tomorrow could prove the ideal turning point.

"We will come out of this because we just need a bit of confidence and a bit of luck," he added.

"If we get that... we are playing Everton in the next game. If we win that one everything will change."

Rush's former team-mate Steve Nicol, currently a coach in America's Major League Soccer, believes the proposed new owners of the club will be a good fit at Anfield.

Nicol has been coach of New England Revolution since 2002, the same year NESV took over the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, and has been able to witness first hand what effect and the success they have had.

"As a member of the Liverpool family, I am excited to hear that new owners may be taking over at Liverpool," said the 48-year-old.

"My understanding of this group is that they have protected and nurtured the history and tradition of one of America's beloved teams, while bringing championships to the franchise.

"As a former player for, and now supporter of, Liverpool, this is the type of ownership group Liverpool should be looking to, to take the club back to where it rightfully belongs."

NESV's takeover is still some way from being finalised, with the court hearing early next week likely to be pivotal to a swift conclusion.

Next Friday is the deadline for Hicks and Gillett to repay their £273m debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland and the court action is seen as a delaying tactic to buy more time as the Americans seek a way of getting more profit out of the sale to avoid them suffering a loss of £144m.

Should the situation not be resolved in the next seven days, or the sale be delayed for any reason, RBS could opt to call in their debt and put Kop Holdings, the parent company set up by the Americans to purchase the club in 2007, into administration.

It was initially believed that would not affect Liverpool's Premier League status but it emerged last night that they would be at risk of a nine-point deduction.

Such a turn of events would leave the Reds on minus three points and bottom of the table by the time they play Everton on 17 October.

Many fans would probably accept that just to be rid of Hicks and Gillett, whose three-and-a-half-year tenure has been riddled with problems.

Meanwhile the Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt insists the team is making progress under new manager Roy Hodgson even if results on the pitch have not suggested as much.

"If you could see the training sessions, you could see the progress that is being made every day," he said. "We have been working really hard and we believe in ourselves. The progression is there and I believe it's just a matter of time before it comes out on the pitch and the good results will follow. We are working hard on playing with the shape of the team that the manager likes to use and we have been making progress.

"We didn't have a lot of time in pre-season to work on things but it is definitely starting to come together."