Pepe Reina offered no excuses yesterday after reflecting on a "hell of a year" at Liverpool
A seventh-place finish was Liverpool's worst performance in the Premier League since 1999, compounding early exits from the Champions League and FA Cup earlier in the campaign. Reina, the Liverpool goalkeeper, was one of few to come out of the campaign with credit and that was recognised when he was overwhelmingly voted the club's player of the season. But he said that could not lessen the disappointment of a dismal campaign in which Liverpool suffered 11 league defeats, eight of which came away from home.
Injuries played a significant part, with striker Fernando Torres undergoing two knee operations in three months, and the likes of defenders Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Emiliano Insua and Fabio Aurelio and midfielders Alberto Aquilani, Yossi Benayoun and Steven Gerrard all having problems at one time or another.
"I feel a bit mixed because when a goalkeeper wins this kind of award, it's never a good thing," said Reina, who also won his fourth golden glove for the most clean sheets, sharing it this season with Chelsea's Petr Cech.
"I am happy with the things I have done, but not one of us can be happy because of the season we've had. No matter what you do, it's about the team. All of us are really disappointed. It's been a hell of a year with injuries. Fernando, Stevie, Glen, the centre-backs – we've been in a lot of trouble with injuries, so it's always difficult to prepare for a season like that. But it's no excuse – we should have done better and we didn't."
On-field problems have developed against a backdrop of difficulties behind the scenes at Anfield.
Financial restrictions – Liverpool's parent company Kop Holdings were £351m in debt before the start of the campaign – impacted on manager Rafael Benitez's ability to strengthen the squad last summer.
Co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett's decision to officially put the club up for sale has added to the uncertainty, with the futures of Benitez, Torres and Gerrard all subject to speculation.
Chairman Martin Broughton, brought in by the Americans to oversee the sale, believes the process could take "a matter of months". Reina has called for a swift conclusion to give Benitez a chance to plan properly for next season. "It is vital [there is a quick sale]," said the Spain international. "It would be simple as it would mean we could start planning for next season earlier. All that I ask is that if it is going to happen, then it happens as soon as possible to help the club.
"We [the players] worry. It is a little bit of a concern and we need to sort out these kind of things, like the sale of the club and the thing with the owners. Once we settle all this then we can begin to look forward and improve the squad."
The Chinese multi-millionaire internet gaming tycoon Zhu Jun has also been linked with a possible takeover. Questions remain over whether the 44-year-old, based in Shanghai and founder of The9 Ltd, has the financial backing needed for a bid in excess of £500m.