Tuesday, 15 September 2009


ARRR YOSS: Benayoun's sublime finish to open the scoring against Burnley

IT'S a tag that fans love and players hate – super sub.

Supporters hail these cult heroes, men who spend their footballing lives lurking in the shadows, emerging to save an unthinkable point or, even better, to grab the unlikeliest of victories.

The football stars see it as a form of failure, proof they were never good enough to truly make the grade.

For 1970s legend David Fairclough the fight's over. After scoring 18 goals coming off the bench for Liverpool, it's his nickname for life, regardless of the fact his 61 appearances as a Reds substitute were eclipsed by his 92 Liverpool starts.

For Yosef Benayoun it's a different story - he can still do something about it. And thankfully, he is.

Ronny Rosenthal was another once on the payroll at Anfield to be branded a super sub and it seemed certain fellow Israeli Benayoun was destined to leave L4 having been posted in the same pigeon hole.

Just three months ago he was considering his future after various clubs, including Villareal, Atletico Madrid and West Ham, had shown an interest.

It would have been easy for the 29-year-old to shrug his shoulders and say goodbye.

Instead, he stayed, signed a two-year contract extension and told Rafa Benitez he was more than just an impact player from the bench.

Benitez said: 

"I was talking to Yossi about how he has always been fantastic coming off the bench and he told me he could do even more if I gave him a chance from the start. I always thought his quick feet and game intelligence could hurt opponents when they started to tire, but he has proved he can do it from the beginning."

Compare that to Ryan Babel, the Dutch "wonderkid" dubbed the new Thierry Henry who signed at the same time as Benayoun, July 2007.

While Benayoun has taken his chances when they have come along - Saturday's hat-trick in the stroll against Burnley was his third Liverpool treble, and his 11th goal in his last 23 appearances - Babel has preferred to take the spoilt brat approach.

While he did have a spell earlier in his Anfield career when he scored five goals coming off the bench, he has now turned into the Incredible Sulk, moaning about broken promises, pleading for a return home. Add that to body language that says 'I don't want to be here' every time he sets foot on the pitch and it's no wonder he wasn't even on the bench on Saturday.

And yet when the two of them arrived many, including myself, thought Babel would be the more successful of the two.

With the praise of Holland's finest ringing his ears, a big reputation, an even bigger fee and reported interest from a host of Europe's top clubs including Arsenal, Babel came to town with big promise.

And with a cannon of a shot, pace, power and skill, he looked to have all the attributes to succeed in the Premier League.

With Benayoun, I feared he would be too lightweight. And often he has been. But fair play he's proved me wrong - and on current form he looks a better bet than some of the players that get a sniff at our rivals - Ji Sung Park and Antonio Valencia for starters.

And while I'm obviously delighted at his current form and influence on the first team I'm also glad it's another player that can be crossed off the list of "flops" the next time Rafa Benitez is in the crosshairs of the snipers.

Now it's vital that Benayoun keeps up his Peter Beardsley-esque displays - and wouldn't it be nice if a few others from the fringes stepped up to the plate and won a match or two?

I'm talking about Babel, Andriy Voronin and even Albert Riera, who needs to turn in more nine or tens out of ten than the sixes or sevens he produces regularly.

Like Benayoun earlier in his Liverpool career, they need to improve, take their chances, adapt, stamp some authority on a game and show us some magic.

In fact, they could pin up this corker of a quote from Benayoun on their Melwood locker and take it from there:
"With the number of top players we've got, you accept you won't always be playing and that you have to give it everything when your chance comes along. But that's fine with me."


Anonymous said...

Great article! Yossi has such a great attitude off the pitch. It's really nice to see him doing so well!

Anonymous said...

im delighted for yossi maybe babel can turn it around

southport toffeeman said...

i suppose liverpool are going to tell us this is their season for the title - YAWN - after two easy home games against hapless opposition, we've heard it all before and you just make cunts out of yourselves, remember when you destroyed derby a couple of seasons ago right at the start of the season yous were practically opening the champagne (as it happened everyone went on to destroy derby that season, they were attrocious) but don't let me stop you, keep telling everyone this is liverpool's year.

robbohuyton said...

For the normal people out there, this sad man, now calling himself 'southport toffeeman' has been spamming my blog for two days now. Check out also his comments under the name 'Salford John" both with the same IP address:

Ballymoney, United Kingdom
Amey It Services (

You really need to get out more mate.

Salford John / Southport Toffeeman said...

You caught me out , take it easy mate.

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