Thursday, 29 January 2009
BE positive, look on the bright side and leave it to the national newspaper snides to drown our hopes in a sea of negativity.
That seems to be the unwritten rule if you're a fan and you dare to express your opinion in the public domain.
And it's the same if you write for a paper local to the team you're covering - only that's worse because you need them more than they need you.
But in Internet world, if you are at all negative, if you point out a shortcoming, a failure or a mistake you risk being shot down in flames, or worse, being labelled a knee-jerk (oh, the horror).
Well, this ain't knee-jerk. I try to be positive, look on the bright side, do the maths and dream up scenarios where we romp away with the title.
But right now if you flew me to the sun and shone a torch in my face I wouldn't be able to see the bright side.
And so the negatives...where to start.
I'll kick off with Rafa Benitez.
Love the guy, he's brought me joy, provided me with one of the most treasured moments of my life in Istanbul and undoubtedly moved the club forward.
He's made progress year on year, he's bought some great players and he seems like a genuinely nice fella.
But he makes inexplicable team selections and substitutions, seems obsessed with the next game before the current one is won and has a blind spot to certain players.
He was at it again tonight at Wigan.
The moment I heard the line-up I feared the worst. Lucas in, Alonso out. Kuyt out, Benayoun in.
OK, Benayoun had a go - he scored a decent goal. But he's not good enough for a title-chasing team. End of.
Lucas let the side down - again. Three decent games ever is no use to anyone. Not just a dozy tackle tonight but another missed chance - his football is worse than his haircut - and that's some going.
And Ryan Babel. Well how he got anywhere near the first team after his performance against Everton on Sunday, I'll never know. If Rafa is trying to make him play his way into form, it's not working.
We all know Rafa likes to freshen up the team. But the squad is limited. And we're at the business end of the season.
So let's have a go. Play the strongest team. And if they are tired, they are tired. At least we had a go.
While we carry players like the trio mentioned the draws will continue. And they could easily start turning into defeats.
We lack matchwinners. I hate to agree with the outsiders looking in who say we are a one man team. We're not, but when it comes to inspirational figures who can turn a match you are talking two men - Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
And Torres is struggling. He's not putting away the chances and only showing flashes of the brilliance we know he possesses. He is of course coming back from injury.
So fingers crossed the real Fernando Torres stands up - and soon.
In the meantime it's down to Stevie. And he was substituted the moment Wigan equalised tonight. Why? He was tired, according to Rafa. So tired he couldn't play another seven minutes and try to pull us out of a tight spot. Please.
With our two best players off the pitch we looked a shambles. We couldn't even get a decent ball in the box.
Earlier in the season Dirk Kuyt hit a purple patch and moved into the matchwinning class. But his goalscoring touch has deserted him (or should that just be 'his touch' has deserted him?).
So what other matchwinners did we have out there? Robbie Keane? If he had a Spurs shirt on, maybe. In the red of Liverpool - not yet.
Mascherano? Well he'll try his heart out - but that's not his game.
So anyone else? Nope...
It's that lack of players to step up and take the game by the scruff of the neck that will cost us dear.
It's horrible to say - but look at Manchester United. Wayne Rooney, Ronaldo, Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez. All can make the difference.
And even their fringe players can step up and do something when need be. Yes, even Darren Fletcher. Even John O'Shea.
For Liverpool to have a chance of the title, we have to play our strongest 11 more often than not from here on in.
Torres has to hit form, Stevie has to stay fit and Lucas has to sit in the stands.
And players like Albert Riera, Kuyt and even Xabi Alonso need to add goals to their game - fast.
A shock world-class signing before the transfer window closes wouldn't go amiss either and failing that, what about the lads in the reserves? Are they really that bad??
Posted by robbohuyton at 01:21