Tuesday, 25 August 2009


THE knives were drawn for Rafa Benitez from the moment Liverpool lost to Spurs - and after the defeat to Villa at Anfield on Monday the Spaniard must be able to smell the steel of the blade.

The bookies, not content with stirring the shit with ANOTHER cock and bull story about betting being suspended on the Liverpool manager getting the axe, have now installed the Spaniard as favourite to be the next manager to get the chop in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, forums, blogs and newspaper reports are all begi
nning to circle Benitez, seemingly smelling blood.

And all this three, THREE, games into the season.

Yes, the first defeat at home in the league since December 2007 - and against a team aspiring to crack the top four - and that's it, time for a new manager.

Well I don't buy the culture of right now, or knee-jerk, as it is so often, and annoyingly, referred to as on the Internet.

It takes time, a shed-load of money and, more often than not, a string of nearly-but-not-quites to build a team capable of winning the league - just ask Alex Ferguson.

Once upon a time, before his every move was lauded as g
enius, plain old Alex was in a similar boat to Rafa - chasing the coat tails of a club that year after year was enjoying success and monopolising the league.

And like Rafa, the former Aberdeen boss had to cope w
ith huge expectation, intensive media scrutiny and a support lacking patience.

It took Fergie SEVEN YEARS to land the league - and in that time he spent big money on a lot of players, and, like Benitez, not all of them were succe

In the first three years under the Scot, United finished 11th, 2nd, 11th and come the 89-90 season, Fergie spent big again, smashing the British record to sign Gary Pallister for £2.3million (!).

But United went on to lose 5-1 to Man City before enduring an early season run of six defeats and two draws which led to a banner at Old Trafford saying: "T
hree years of excuses and it's still crap. Ta ra Fergie."

It's widely accepted that a Mark Robins goal in the FA Cup against Nottingham Forest saved Fergie's bacon (face).

And from there on, well it's painful reading for any Red - you know what's happened since.

If Rafa is sacked now - or walks - Liverpool go back to square one, new manager, new ideas.

Instead, Benitez should be given time and money - and a little respect for his record so far, in trying circumstances, wouldn't go amiss.

Some might say he's had the time and money after five years in the job and £250million spent.

But that doesn't tell the whole story. Yes, he's spent big - but he's also clawed back a big chunk of that figure (approximately £134m).

So that's a net spend of £116m - or an average spend of £19.4m per season.

When you consider United have regularly forked out for £30m players - Veron, Rooney, Ferdinand, Berbatov, it's peanuts.

And of course, they started from a position of power when Benitez arrived - so while he had to overhaul the whole squad (of which just Gerrard and Carra remain), United strengthen when they need to - and almost always from the top end of the market.

On Monday, after returning from Anfield, and against my better judgement, I flicked open the lap top and began to read the reports, the blogs and the forums.

And there it was, the old chestnut: "Get Mourinho in".

Putting aside the fact that he is a attention-hungry media whore, the man is obviously a good manager.

But ask yourself this - given the constraints ANY manager of Liverpool will now have to work under thanks to Tom Hicks and George Gillett saddling the club with millions of pounds of debt, what difference would a change make?

There's no money to spend, Rafa is quite literally at the "haven't got to pot to piss in" stage.

We can't even get in a free or a loan to boost our attacking options (Eidur Gudjohnsen, anyone?) because there's nothing left to pay the additional wages.

Just think how useful that £40m blown on paying interest on loans the Yanks used to buy the club would be now.

But back to Mourinho.

Let's ignore the pay off to Inter Milan, the golden goodbye to Rafa for sacking him and the self-proclaimed Special One's wages, a reported £5.2million a year at Stamford Bridge.

Without the money to burn (he spent £70m on arrival at Chelsea to add to a team that was already in the higher reaches of the Premier League), what would the Portuguese motormouth do?

Don't get me wrong, I know Rafa makes mistakes - and his worse trait is being stubborn, almost shooting himself in the foot at times to prove his own point (not playing Crouch, and, at times Pennant, sticking with Lucas etc).

But I truly believe, given the right backing, and shown the faith, he will get it right.

Last season, we were close, so close. Record points total, top scorers in the league and blowing away the top teams.

This season, OK, so far it's a disappointment. But again, we're not helped by the Yanks - they're not football men, they're businessmen (along with many other things, that even in a blog, I don't think I can get away with...)

If they were football men, they could see we are crying out for reinforcements.

And no matter who you like to blame for that position, why aren't they finding the cash from somewhere to fund a couple more forays into the transfer market before the window closes?

As it is we're in the middle of a breakdown but Rafa's the man to get the engine purring again - and, don't forget, he'll soon have the AA to help him too...(sorry).

But seriously, keep the faith, lay off Rafa - oh, and stick this in your window...

* Spending figures from transferleague


Anonymous said...

David Moores, hang your head in shame.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Those rounding on Benitez should check out last seasons premier league table. If anybody thinks that another manager could navigate Liverpool to second in the table while putting up with the Americans bullsh*t they need their heads checked. Blame the yanks, they are the ones who cant afford to back rafa in the way he needs.

Ficle fans should f*ck off and support someone else

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I agree, lets see what happens in the first half of the season. We need to improve against Bolton but it is down to the players on the pitch to show their metal...

In Rafa we trust! he is sticking with us even though the Yanks are going back on their word and not giving him the money in the summer to buy the players he needs, not only that but they are taking away the funds from the sale of the players...

If Rafa walks then no manager coming in will do any better whilst the Yanks are in charge.

bryan mason said...

Fuck David Moore. He should sell his to Arabs rather than Americonmen

Anonymous said...

Just axe Rafa quickly and get Daglish back at the top.
Cut losses man.

Roscoe said...

When I read this article I realise what an amazing manager Wenger is. Makes a profit in almost every season and still manages to put together a brilliant team. He would win the league hands down in Rafa's position. Arsene Wenger : Best Manager Ever

Anonymous said...

if WE let RAFA go then do you know which clubs he is capable of attractin???

Even real Mardrid will sack their manager

He would have won the league two season ago if he was a manager for Chelsea or Man utd.... even with Man city wealth

Give him a break, everybody makes mistake.

IN RAFA WE BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

earlier this week i came on one of these forums ,saying the liverpool manager will out by christmas and everton manger will take over that was little far fetch but still feel the board at liverpool need to address the fact your manager didn't by secound top flight striker -liverpool next three game very inportant if lose them your out of championships

Anonymous said...

Roscoe: So that's why Arsene hasn't one a trophy in living memory and many Arsenal fans wanted him out before the season started? lol

Anonymous said...

If Rafa walks Fernando will follow. Fact.

Anonymous said...

fantastic article, sums up the feelings of any true liverpool fans perfectly

robbohuyton said...

From Gary B via email:

Always a refreshing, well thought out, change from the shite I try to
avoid on the radio and internet.

Anonymous said...

Rafa can't win trophies with his budget! Always reading about how he has no money yet Liverpool always spend huge amounts every season. He wouldn't last a day in Wenger's shoes! LOL. YP

robbohuyton said...

That's the same Wenger who hasn't won anything for four years, yes?

robbohuyton said...

From Ian L via email:

It's an interesting point - but keeping Rafa because we would have to go back to square one with a new manager, new ideas, new players, isn't really a argument to keep him.

Unfortunately, we have become like Everton, in that we can't afford to sack him. That's the reality. He won't walk cos he will miss out in millions in a pay-out, so we are stuck with him for another 5 years. Unless Madrid come in for him next year.

I don't understand this net spend point. All it proves is that he spent £250m but was ok at selling players and getting money back in. All managers do that. Perhaps he would be good on Cash In The Attic?

You know my views - it's not about 3 games into the season, for me it's the last 2-3 years, where he has convinced me he is not the man for the job.

Poor buying, poor tactics, poor decision making in games, lack of creativity in approach to games, his stubborness, his desire for total control (which he wouldn't get at his beloved Madrid), his poor man-management (Keane, Alonso), his motormouth (there was a time when we kept as much of this in house but his public rants at G&H and Parry were so un-Liverpool).

I could go on.

A combination of these factors cost us the European Cup in 2007 and the league last season.

These initial games now are a blip, but like last season, we will be found wanting. His magical system will be found out in more games this year, as teams learn how to manage it, like Villa did on Monday night.

Stop Gerrard, bypass our two DMs and you're half way there.

That's my big fear because we never change it, we don't have a Plan B. Unless Alberto comes in and is a revelation in his first season, like Torres.

You are right about Maureen - we can't afford him but I would love him here.

So if we look to replace Rafa, it would have to be with a manager who can work with less money.

Could Martin O'Neill do a job at Anfield? He produces tight teams that perform well. Just a suggestion...

Out of interest, there surely has to come a time when you will say enough is enough. He has crossed that line for me. When would it be for you? Next season, the one after that if we don't win anything?

Anonymous said...

And what has Rafa won in the last 3 years, with all his money and all? Nothing! Give Wenger that budget and he'll teach them all a lesson! Excuses, excuses is all I ever hear!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

It's the second big test for Benitez. He passed the first one by sorting out the cack left by Houllier.
Now he needs to get over the fact that he found a winning system but lost arguably the man that made it all work in Alonso. That seems to have upset everyone as there has been far too much moaning at the ref in our first three games and not enough hard work.
Gerrard has proved himself to be one of our greatest players in the past six or seven years - but he has to get a grip and move back to midfield until Aquilani is fit enough.
Either that or another system is required - had Agger and Aurelio not been crocked we could have played 3-5-2 as Johnson is a wing back if I ever saw one.
Then the central midfield of Gerrard, Masch and Benayoun could push up and would be a bit harder to close down like Villa did. Kuyt and Torres could play up front - job done.

Dave Molyneux said...

What gets me about Rafa is the fact that we are obviously crying out for attacking support for Torres and he lets Owen slip through his fingers and go to the mancs (for thrity grand a week I heard). He only needed to make the call and I think Owen would have jumped at the chance (hoping he didn’t land awkward, of course) to re-join us.

Gudjohnssen is a good call though mate. Always liked him.

And I know your gonna jump on my neck here skipper as I know a lot of people who are sick to death of the Lucas-Bashers, you being one of them, but I’m sorry to say this mate he is (still) simply not good enough to play for us. He gets the ball and immediately turns around to look for Carragher or Skrtel and will give them the ball if they’re ‘on’. I know he’s gone, but when Xabi had the ball he would always look forward instead of back. Let’s hope the AA (as you call him) has a bit more vision and endeavourer when on the ball as we seriously lack that when we have Mascah & Lucas playing together.

dangerdoug said...

simply....when Rafa & his REDS were on fire last season.....we loved him......when we finnished second we were proud.....we knew this season would be good.

2 defeats and the great unwashed are baying for Rafas blood.

This is a man who STOOD up to Fergie, not RANT like many claim.He has pride in what he does & LFC.

Shame on those who THINK they know better but cant DO anything but winge.

robbohuyton said...

@Ian L

1. Who are Everton trying to sack? Certainly not Moyes, he has done a great job there - or do you dispute that as well?

2.Keeping Rafa because we go back to square one under another manager is exactly the point. Do you really think another man can come in - with the club in it's current state - and win the league straight away? Totally unrealistic if you do, unless, which was the point I was making in the post, they are bankrolled to the hilt - which they won't be. Rafa has progressed the club - how can you not see that? He should be allowed to finish the job.

3. You don't understand the net spend? Well one, it shatters the myth that he's been given a big wad of cash. If he brings it back in again simple economics say the club hasn't lost out - so why isn't there more cash to spend? Two - it shows he is having to wheel and deal, sell players to bring players in. He hasn't walked in the door, inherited a team that has already won 80 points in the Prem and then been able to spend £100m in one go to ADD to that squad...like Mourinho.

4. "The last 2-3 years he has convinced me he is not the man for the job". And yet he was FOUR POINTS off the title last season - what's unconvincing about that?

You twist his achievements into negatives - you mention the 2007 European Cup Final - if he is so bad, how did we get there in the first place?

And if his tactics are so one-dimensional, predictable and so on, how come we have beat almost every top side in Europe under him? AC Milan, Juventus, Inter, Barca (at the Nou Camp), Man U, Chelsea, Real Madrid...

And as for Villa 'managing' on Monday - did we not have a hatful of chances, did Friedel not have a blinder, Kuyt hit a post, Torres put a point blank header straight at Friedel?

This from the side managed by the man you want to manage Liverpool...please.

O'Neill buys tall players throughout the team, works on set pieces and gets some wingers in - that's it. And you talk about Benitez being predictable? O'Neill hasn't moved on tactics-wise since his days at Leicester.

My question for you is - what do EXPECT Benitez, or any other manager to do at Liverpool? Win the league? Because it's almost mission impossible without money I'm afraid to say.

Finally - when do I say enough is enough with Benitez? When I feel he's doing a bad job and when I feel someone else could do better.

I rate Guus Hiddink (who blows O'Neill out of the water for tactics by the way) but I don't think he could do a better job without money.

And I don't think Rafa is doing a bad job...perhaps I have more realistic expectations?

robbohuyton said...

@Dave There's no doubt Owen would have come back mate - but what do you think he would offer, really? He's a box player these days - and as he wouldn't be a starter do you want someone so limited to try turn things around from the bench?
Factor in that Owen turned Rafa down for Newcastle when he was getting binned by Real and a deal was always a non-starter.

Re Lucas, the lad has had an unbelievable amount of stick and he needs to be taken out of the firing line. I don't believe he's without ability but a virtually untried partnership isn't going to blossom at a time like this - Lucas out, Stevie in midfield and Yossi behind Torres is the way forward.

I do like the idea of 3-5-2 mentioned above by anon - and I think Rafa has alluded to wanting to play a system like that when Agger is fit.

Dave Molyneux said...

I think Owen can be a great option from the bench if we are a goal down with a few minutes to play (look at Arsenal in Cardiff 2001). I also think he went to Newcastle due to the amount of money they offered him. Greedy twat! But sometimes it does take an inspirational figure to come along and offer him the chance to play for a big club. Whether that be the mancs or us. Due to his previous history with us, you’d have thought he would have joined us?

As for Gerrard, he takes command of the game when he plays deeper from midfield making bursting runs into the box. That’s the Gerrard we all know and love to watch. Yossi can easily play his current position as he proved last year

And finally another thing: remember who also had a shit start to the season last year?

Ian L said...

@ robbohuyton

I didn't mean Everton would sack Moyes or want to now - but that when they weren't doing so well and there were calls for him to go a few seasons back, it wasn't going to happen because they couldn't afford to sack him. Just like we can't afford to sack Rafa if we wanted to.

I don't think another manager can come in and win the league for us straight away.

But do I think another manager can come in and be more savvy tactically, a better buyer in the transfer market, less negative in approach to certain games, less controlling of things in the club, less stubborn (by your own admission), a better man manager.

I agree Rafa has progressed the club, but only in the way Houllier progressed the club. And before people shout me down that GH never got us to the CL final or won it (though Rafa did it largely with his players), by that I mean Houllier had a real job to do with the dross he was left, probably more than Rafa did.

Remember when we couldn't get a centre back for toffee?, when no DM would touch us? Houllier started to put this right with Henchoz, Sami, Didi, Carragher, Gerrard. But GH wasn't good enough and I was just as vocal that he should have gone.

I'm sorry. I still don't understand the point people ram home about net spend. It's just spend to me. You pick a player you think will improve the side and you buy him. You then sell other players who you don't want, maybe make some money, maybe not. Don't all managers do this - including the top four? Granted some managers have to sell first to raise the funds for all purchases, but we have never had to do this and neither has Rafa at his time at Liverpool.

For me, net spend is a way of excusing Rafa's overall record in the transfer market. That he is some way handicapped because he isn't being given the resoures he needs.

This simply isn't true. Rafa gets money but isn't always the best at spending it.

We could have been one point off the title last year and it wouldn't have made a difference because we didn't win it. That's a fact.

Everyone goes on about last year but the fact was that for the first half of the season, there were some very poor performances and strange managerial decisions. The second half was a revelation but it was too little, too late. Because his cautious approach, totally preditcable way he sets out his side meant that we were wounded by those early draws.

Your answer to my question about when it's enough with Rafa was a great PR answer! But seriously, is that time-based ie four more seasons of finishing second would convince you he'd have to go? O'Neill was a suggestion by me - not an appointment choice, BTW!

Finally, what do I expect of Rafa? The bits I mentioned above about buying better, dumping the control freak elements etc.

Anonymous said...

I am starting to have my doubts about Rafa. He is beginning to be Houllieresque in his persistence to play Lucas. Stubborn to the point where he would cut his nose off to spite his face. His decision to off load Nemeth on loan to Athens is shocking in view of our threadbare striking department.

I have been gobsmacked that Gerrard has played so far up front in the absence of Aquilani?! you dont need to be a managerial genius to know that if Lucas was closer to torres and Gerrard filled the Alonso void temporarily our results would have been better.

Carragher, loyal servant that he is, has been poor . Towards the end of last season I put it down to fatigue but he has continued it in a worse vein with that spurs calamity which has set the tone for our start unfortunately.Players are getting nervy as evidenced by Gerrards rash penalty against Villa.

I am inclined to agree with Ian L there doesnt seem to be a Plan B as the impact of Alonso's departure has made all too painfully clear.

Lets stop this "IN RAFA WE TRUST" meaningless mantra and discuss it rationally

Hopefully it will kick us up the arses but our squad lacks depth and I am getting very depressed.

Ian L said...

I actually think that Lucas isn't that bad. He's a young lad in a foreign country in a game that is as much about pace as it is technique.

He is finding his way but nobody cuts him any slack. There's a definite hierarchy from the fans, who largely say nothing of Gerrard when he makes mistakes, but crucify others. It's massive double standards.

Now, of course, Gerrard has earned our patience when he makes a mistake in a game (and it's hardly ever), after what he has done for the club over the years.

But there was a time when he was a young player finding his way and we gave him room. We should do the same for Lucas.

robbohuyton said...

@Ian L

This is just yet another myopic anti-Benitez 'get him out at all costs' rant.

I'm not, as anon refers to, a 'in Rafa we trust' fan. In fact, I'm happy to criticise Rafa when need be..constructively.

Of course he has made mistakes in the transfer market, show me a manager that hasn't -

Ferguson has signed a string of stinkers - Bellion, Veron, Hargreaves, Djemba-Djemba, Taibi, Kleberson, Miller etc etc - but it seems to me that with you it's one rule for Benitez and another for everyone else.

Harping on about bad buys - as proved with the Fergie example - proves nothing.

What about Benitez's good buys? For example: Torres, Mascherano, Alonso, Agger, Benayoun, Kuyt, Reina, Skrtel, Insusa, Aurelio, Arbeloa?

"Houllier had a real job to do with the dross he was left, probably more than Rafa did"


Fowler, Owen, McManaman, Ince, Berger, James, Redknapp, Murphy, Riedle.


And some of the players Rafa inherited:

Kewell, Biscan, Cheyrou, Diouf, Diao, Cisse, Baros, Traore, Le Tallec.


You mention Everton and Moyes - whatever reason they stuck with him hasn't the stability now paid off?

I don't see the point in changing the manager if there are bigger problems at the club that would hamper ANY manager - i.e. the owners.

And the black and white attitude towards the title - why?

My point is Benitez should not be expected to win the title - even coming close (as he has) is a major achievement.

Why? Because he is up against two of the richest and best clubs in world football in Chelsea and Man United - there is no divine right to win the league, we must progress towards it - and we have done.

And you say the second half of the season was a 'revelation'. Well that was still Benitez's team, Benitez's players, Benitez's tactics.

It was good then (three months ago!!!) so why can't it be again.

As for "poor performances", what do you expect in a 38-game season - game after game of brilliance? Unrealistic expectations - again.

Look at United, they were poor in loads of games last season, they scraped a string of games 1-0 and even in the run-in they rode their luck big time against Villa and could easily have lost to Spurs had it not been for a dodgy penalty.

Only Arsenal, who went a season unbeaten, can argue they hit the same levels week in, week out for a season - for everyone else, there's bad patches.

Benitez's tactics and man-management, more myths you perpetuate.

What about transforming Steven Gerrard from a seven-goal-a-season midfielder into a 25-goal-a-season forward?

What about - as I've already mentioned - beating almost every top side in Europe?

What about an unrivalled record in the Champions League?

What about transforming Valencia - and making them more ATTACKING - to win La Liga twice (and the UEFA Cup)?

He's done really well for someone who knows nothing about tactics and man-management!

As for Benitez staying in the job, why do I need to set a time? This is typical of your black and white approach.

A realistic target for Benitez every year is to challenge for the Champions League, challenge for the league, challenge for the cups and make sure we are in the Champions League the following year. Anything more - brilliant.

If we had fell out of the top four and failed to make the Champions League then I could understand the fuss. As it is, I can't.

Ian L said...


It's not a rant. I thought I laid out some considered views as to why Rafa isn't the man for the job.

Be careful - you sound like some of the Rafa apologistas who won't take any criticism of him!

You've definitely hit the nail on the head when you say we have different expectations.

Yours, you say, are to see Liverpool just challenge for the league, just challenge for cups and just make sure we are in the CL next season. Anything on top is an extra.

That hasn't moved on a great deal since Houllier, to be fair. We challenged for the league and came second, we challenged for cups and won three in one season, we qualified for the CL, at least once I think.

The point I want to make is why can't we win the league? Why is that an unrealistic expectation for me?

You rightly praise Moyes for his work. If he can take a club with limited means into the top four area by his careful buying in the transfer market, getting a system that works for him, then why can't we win the league?

Yes, I know breaking into the top four/challenging around that area and winning the league are totally different but it's surely relative to financial position and quality of players.

As for us, on one hand you say, it's down to not having cash, the Yanks etc but in the very next sentence you say we were almost there last season, finishing second and a measly four points behind United.

This is the same Rafa who his supporters say is hard done by with cash, who gave the other top 3 teams what for last season and was just pipped at the post.

You can't have it both ways.

The fact was that we threw away the league last season through a number of factors and in my eyes these can be pinned on Rafa's door.

Anyway, I thought it was Houllier who claimed to transform Gerrard from a rash kid into a world beater!

robbohuyton said...

@Ian L

Apologist? I've said Rafa has made mistakes in the transfer market, I've said he can be stubborn - it's not like I'm just beating my chest and chanting the 'Believe - In Rafa We Trust' mantra.

Maybe you should be careful - some might say you're a knee-jerk for calling for Rafa to go three games into the season...

I've answered why winning the league is an unrealistic expectation - because we're fighting an established Championship-winning side who regularly strengthen at the top end of the market and bring in more money every other week.

And our other main rival - well they're just backed by one of the richest men in the world. They have a stronger squad and more money, pay more wages and have allowed their managers to spend around £100m IN ONE GO - not the drip, drip of 20m, 40m a season.

Glad you bring up Moyes - because he proves my point. Being a good manager can only get you so far. He's finished fourth once. Bigger clubs cherry pick his best players. And they're never going to get back in the Champions League until they have more money to spend - that's why they are frantically scouring the world for someone with deep pockets.

Rafa has taken Liverpool as high as can realistically be expected in the league every season (bar 2005 and then he 'just' masterminded a European Cup win instead) - to go to the next level he needs better players and more money - that's my view.

And I'm not trying to have it both ways. I'm saying Rafa is a good manager for exactly the reason you state - he hasn't had the cash and yet he STILL managed to finish second.

The point is I want us to win the league, but considering all other factors - the owners, the opposition - I don't expect us to win it.

Well look at Gerrard's record mate - he's done better under Benitez.

Don't remember Houllier playing him up front.

Anyway - you say our expectations are different, well, clearly so is our assessment of Benitez and the job any manager would face at Liverpool FC - in my view it's an extremely difficult one.

Anonymous said...

It's time for robbo to offer Ian L out - let's get this sorted

Anonymous said...

I am an ardent Rafa supporter but recent events have depressed me. I think this is the time to step up a gear. it looks like we have moved 1 step forward last year and two steps backward this season.

Without meaning to sound knee-jerk the last time I recognised this kind of complacency was the season after houllier came 2nd.

Hope history doesnt repeat itself.

we have to go for a trophy this season if PL doesnt work out. Come on You Reds Pull it together.

(That includes Rafa he isnt infallible and the sooner he realises the better. He should be fearful... Fear is a great motivator)

Anonymous said...

Spot on.... the key factor to spurring Sir Whiskeynose Fungusface to greatness (ahem!) was the perpetual threat of getting the sack.

It could concentrate Rafa's mind and lets re-commence this discussion after the last ball has been kicked in anger in May

Anonymous said...

What confuses me why play gerrard up front when there is a gaping void left by Alonso's departure ??

Surely it would be more logical to play gerrard in midfield and give Babel a chance up front Henry-Stylee ? Then we can decide to offload him better to lose the ball in the penalty area than half way in the pitch where we will get punished.

Lucas isn't that bad but he isnt "that good" either (!) he doesnt play well with Mascherano too similar possibly. At least Gerrard can pass the ball a bit. If you ask me its a bit of a no-brainer.

My theory is the players are not match fit after an extremely poor pre-season programme.

I am not blaming rafa here. its the stupid confederations cup that he had to take into account but this is why some of the players are disjointed.

Too early to judge but not happy with the general pattern that is developing.

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