Saturday, 17 October 2009


SO, you're packing your bags for an away trip watching the Reds. Ticket - check. Ale - check. Wallet - check. Beach ball?

We can't just blame the dope who decided to spend a tenner on the LFC beach set and then take the ball to the Stadium of Light for the defeat to Sunderland - but it didn't help did it?

It's always seen as an excuse if you mention the word 'luck' in football. But look at the last couple of weeks - Man United bag four points with two own goals playing a huge part while we lose our two best players to injury and a beach ball scores the winner for Steve Bruce's side. Lucky? Unlucky?

Fortune, or lack of it, aside, today's performance was poor. While there were plenty of positives from defeats to Chelsea and Villa, this showing had more in common with the Spurs defeat.

In other words, on the balance of play, it was deserved.

Sunderland carved out more clear-cut chances and worked incredibly hard for 97 minutes to nullify anything we had to offer.

We could of nicked a point from Dirk Kuyt or David N'Gog at the end but that would have been harsh on Sunderland.

They regularly built up sustained periods of pressure when the heart was in the mouth and the bum cheeks were clenched. We didn't.

The saving grace is Chelsea's defeat - which means we are only one point worse off than the start of the match in terms of topping the league.

There's no side that looks unbeatable right now and no set of fans that can be totally happy with their team - it looks like being a really open title race.

Whether we are in it remains to be seen - beating United next Sunday would certainly be a step in the right direction.

But for me it would be no great surprise to finish third or fourth - and that's being realistic, not negative.

It's all well and good saying 'we should win the league' or 'we should be winning trophies'.

But when teams around us are blowing millions on big players and big wages and boasting bigger squads, it makes what was already a near-impossible task even more difficult.

Then of course there is the Liverpool FC factor. The belief that our glorious history means we have a God-given right to win things. We don't.

Why isn't it acceptable to just finish in the top four - like it seems to be for Arsene Wenger, trophyless since 2005 and without the title since 2004?

I want more than that of course, we all do.

But until Rafa Benitez is given the resources Jose Mourinho and Mark Hughes have enjoyed - that's hundreds of millions in one go (not over five years) and without the pressure to sell to balance the books - I don't think it is realistic to expect that.

The fact we came so close to the title last season has of course raised the bar for Benitez - in a way he's made a rod for his own back.

But until things change off the field, I'm not expecting them to change on dramatically on it. A bit of luck wouldn't go amiss though - and I've always loved surprises...

Speaking of surprises, I'll be open-mouthed if there isn't a fourth consecutive Liverpool-bashing piece in Stan Wallymore's Daily Mirror column on Monday. It's a column that is supposed to be about football in general, not just Liverpool. But if you thought it was just for knocking the Reds, well it's an easy mistake to make.

Apparently he was at the Stadium of Light today (a mate heard him on Talk Shite Sport) so what cliched, second-hand, cut and paste "analysis" will he go for on Monday?
  • Yet more proof that Liverpool are a two-man team
  • Benitez must go - Mourinho can save the day
  • Lucas isn't good enough for Liverpool
  • Zonal marking is costing Liverpool
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