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“We can still win the title” – Who’s Benitez kidding?

October 20, 2009

Just. No.

I’m a true optimist right, but I’m afraid on this occasion even Rafa’s got the better of me. Despite Liverpool’s dire start to the season, somehow, from somewhere, Mr. Benitez has conjured up the enthusiasm and confidence to say Liverpool can still win the Premier League. Is he mad?

It is early days, but not so early as predict the outcome of the rest of the season. This week is a crucial one for Benitez, probably for his career at Anfield. A Champions League tie on Tuesday is followed on Sunday by the visit of Manchester United and all their beachballs. Should Liverpool fail to secure points in both those matches, the door will swing wide open for Benitez to make his exit.

This time last season Liverpool were in a similar predicament. Benitez as well. A Champions League win, also against French opposition in the form of Marseille, kept Benitez his job in effect, after reports suggested he was on the way out. If ever there was a time for an encore, it’s now.

Those of you who read the papers will have probably picked up on the criticism of Benitez for not praising his players enough. Now I never read the articles about this, but I was told that he’s never praised Jamie Carragher or Steven Gerrard for a good performance? Surely that can’t be true. Is he losing the dressing room now as well?

He’s desperate to stay at Liverpool, that’s for sure, and who can blame him? He’s fallen in love with the club and it’s fans, and having spent 5 years there, it’s always going to be a hard thing to leave. He delivered a 5th Champions League trophy in his first full year in charge, as well as bringing Fernando Torres to the club, a signing that pretty much made him a legend. But all that seems long forgotten.

The recent past and the present is what Liverpool fans, and more importanly messrs. Hicks and Gillet are looking at right now. He’s not delivering the goods, and it’s time something was done about it. I’m sad to say that I want Benitez to leave. In my eyes he’s a legend, and a top Football Manager. Winning the European Cup was a big thing for me, and all other Liverpool fans. But I’m afraid now we want the Premier League. And I don’t believe Benitez is the man to deliver that particular trophy.

He’s too cautious as a Manager, in England anyway. The style of play that is needed in the PL is an attacking one. Take United and Arsenal for example. Free-flowing, passing Football, and plenty of goals. Liverpool, seldom set the League alite with a 5-0, 6-0 display, and far too often settle for 0-0 draws at Stamford Bridge. Not good enough.

Possible candidates for the hotseat?

Jose Mourinho has to be favourite for me. He’s always stated a desire to get back into managing in England, and despite not being on most Reds’ fan’s christmas card list, he’ll win silverware.

Jurgen Klinsmann was very close to taking over 12 months ago before that Marseille win, and who know, his name may pop up again.

Martin O’Neill? Claudio Ranieri? Who do you think?

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2009 1:30 pm

    God its only October!

    Anything and everything will happen. If we are still in this situ come Feb then maybe youll be right.

    We have the potential to lose a couple of games on the bounce, and the Anfield game is a six pointer on Sunday.

    Maybe just sack Rafa? Oh go on…sack him!!!

  2. yaniv permalink
    October 20, 2009 1:40 pm

    although i dislike rafa, i think i’ll have 2 disagree with u.. Can u tell me one manager who can do any better with d current squad? If he is sacked, d new manager still ll have 2 play d same players.. Yes, d fact that pool have this sry squad is rafa’s fault, i dont think there really is anything that can b done.. Bcoz i cant really think of a formation that hasnt been used.. A new guy may rally d troups n get better performances, but i still dont think that’ll b enough in this league.. He needs a miracle 2 find an alonso somewhere in d reserves.. Dont think that’ll happen.. But in d end, i do believe rafa should leave.. Jus dont think ryt now..

  3. George permalink
    October 20, 2009 2:21 pm

    Can you see Liverpool challenging, even after just 9 games? 7 points behind United, and I’m not too sure we’re gonna claim anything from Sunday’s match. We don’t have enough strength in depth to be challenging United etc. It showed against Sunderland at the weekend that without Gerrard and Torres we’re very thin on the ground, and we lost a game that we should have won.

    @ Yaniv – yes the squad is poor, and yes a new manager would have to deal with the same bunch of players, but it’s not just the personnel we have. It’s the way we play – Far too cautious which is why Rafa has never won a PL game at Stamford Bridge for example. The exception came in the 4-1 win at Old Trafford last season, but since then, when have Liverpool played as well as that away from home against a top 6 team?

    As for the Alonso situation, Alberto Aquilani is close to full fitness, so he’ll slot into the midfield, and hopefully that donkey Lucas can shove off somewhere else.

    • October 20, 2009 2:24 pm

      @George For you what’s more important Premier League or Champions League?

  4. George permalink
    October 20, 2009 2:30 pm

    Premier League. We haven’t ever won it, and I just want the satisfaction of seeing all those United fan’s faces when/if we lift the trophy.

    Champions League is a brilliant trophy to win, but the Premier League is far more important.

    • October 20, 2009 2:38 pm

      I keep forgetting I have 2 log ins for here, I should change it to Sarah/blissbubbley!

      I have a few mates who are Liverpool fans and they want the Premier League too. Do you think Rafa’s comments about winning the League this year is to try to please the fans? As to me it’s always seemed Champions League is his priority

  5. George permalink
    October 20, 2009 3:28 pm

    Well if they are to please the fans they ‘aint working! When he says we can still win the League and then we go and lose to teams like Sunderland it’s pretty obvious that he’s talking b.s.

    It’s what happens on the pitch that counts, not what Rafa says, and right now he’s not delivering the goods.

  6. Desmond permalink
    October 20, 2009 3:43 pm

    But its unlikely top managers would want to go to liverpool given the much publicized problems rafa has faced. U have fans that want results blindly, a youth academy that doesnt produce much talent you can use in the long run, 2 owners that squabble like cats and dogs, no money to do anything useful with … … and the list goes on…

    And for the title bid, he doesnt have the squad to gun for both champs league and EPL title, the only way i think he can go all out for a title bid is only if they get dump out of champions league rather early. Coz we saw what the 2nd string could/couldn’t do at sunderland =/

    Just my 2 pence worth of thoughts. Cheers. Sunday is gonna be so fun =) manu fan btw

  7. yaniv permalink
    October 20, 2009 3:50 pm

    @george- but can any other manager play any other formation than d one rafa is playing?? U might say- jus attack n v dont care if v lose.. But a manager cant jus say that 2 his players.. He knows this is a phase where in they jus cant piece an attack together.. Bcoz if they jus lose 2 many matches, top 4 would b very difficult.. First shore up defensively, then get draws, then wins.. D league is pretty much impossible.. All he can do is 2 ensure that by tym its d business end in europe, d team is playing 2 win..

  8. maserati4200 permalink
    October 20, 2009 3:52 pm

    I agree with George – the next two fixtures will define Liverpool’s season and decide Rafa’s short term future.

    Two defeats and he’s toast.

  9. George permalink
    October 20, 2009 4:29 pm

    It’s not the formation that needs changing, it’s the way we play. You can have a formation and play that formation two or three different ways. At the moment, Gerrard and the wingers are playing too deep, which means we aren’t getting enough support to the front man. What we need is a higher midfield line with Gerrard and the wide men pushing right on. This in turn allows Johnson and Insua (who is crap) to bomb on as well, and hey presto, we’ve got a bloody good attacking force.

    Benitez doesn’t do that. He’s too wary of defeat in games we should be winning comfortably.

  10. George permalink
    October 20, 2009 4:43 pm

    @ Desmond. You have a point but Liverpool is still a massive club with massive aspirations. At the moment we have little money, you’re right, but I’m sure 90% of the World’s managers would love a job at Liverpool.

    You’re probably right about the Champions League/Premier League. Getting dumped out of the CL may help as it’d give us the PL, the one thing Liverpool fans want so desperately, to concentrate on. Then again, getting dumped out of the CL and then losing the battle to stay in the title race wins us nothing.

  11. October 20, 2009 4:59 pm

    Well, I have to say I don’t agree with some things you pointed at, George.

    – I don’t think Rafa should leave. Call me patriotic if you want, but I really think the problem is Hicks and Gillet. It seems like they didn’t even care about the team, like if they didn’t even think of making some improvements. Do you remember what happened last summer? They told Benítez that he would still have enough money to spend after he signed Aquilani, after the Italian arrived at Anfield, they told him he only had €1,5m left to buy as many players as he wanted to, lol.

    – May he leave the squad in October, I wouldn’t want Mourinho nor Klinsmann to replace him. I started thinking of Jose in Anfield and I’m getting a bit scared of that.

    – If Liverpool beat Man U next Sunday (dreaming is free), all this conjectures could dissapear in a matter of minutes.

    – Anyway, we can’t win the EPL this year with this squad, not even if they were managed by God – that’s something we all should assume.

  12. George permalink
    October 20, 2009 5:06 pm

    Hicks and Gillett are a problem, yes, but at the end of the day Benitez manages the team. The players he’s got aren’t as good as what we’d like, but you’ve got to deal with what you’ve got. We can’t just let the poor performances slip over our heads with the excuse that the team isn’t good enough.

    Perhaps Mourinho wouldn’t be a good option, but he’s a name, and a class manager who’s been mentioned as a possibility in the past. There are plenty of options.

    I agree about the United match changing everything if we win. It always does. But beating United doesn’t excuse the fact we’re not beating Sunderland. It needs sorting.

  13. October 20, 2009 5:37 pm

    Yeah, you’re right, but we really need some midfielders who know what to do with the ball! Even with those €1,5m you can buy a decent footballer. If I had to choose between firing Benítez or signing 2 players in January, the option is clear.

    Mourinho is not a bad manager, of course he’s not, but he won’t be able to generate a bigger output with these players – the squad is downsized: Benayoun, Gerrard and Torres are the only “special” players who can be crucial for getting good results.

  14. maserati4200 permalink
    October 20, 2009 5:54 pm

    Hicks and Gillett don’t pick the team or decide the tactics.

    Blaming the owners is a kop out (sorry for the pun).

    Rafa is, by nature, a cautious guy. Fortune favours the brave.

  15. October 20, 2009 6:18 pm

    I always thought Benitez never prioritized the EPL. I mean what looks better on your CV for your next job, especially when it won’t be in England? An EPL win or CL win?

    And I think it may be true he has never praised any of his players. No wonder guys who need a bit of pushing like Crouch, Keane, Kuyt or Babel lived up to their hype.
    Some players can turn it on like that, others need a few words of encouragement.

  16. Desmond permalink
    October 20, 2009 10:15 pm

    just watched the champ league match. Damn, it must suck to be in rafa’s boots now to be up at first half then down and out a min after 90 mins.

    Granted, i dont think his tactics were wrong, simply, ngog was not able to finish off the chances and yup they were unable to capitalise on lyons weakness from the first half, where each cross near/into the box was a potential threat. In any case, hope they pick up after this sunday, afterall im a manu fan =) cheers lol.

  17. October 20, 2009 10:56 pm

    I think the trap-door is slowly creaking open beneath Rafa Benitez, this Sunday’s six pointer against Manchester United has come at the wrong time. If Sir Alex Ferguson smuggles three points home The Reds will have lost five in a row. How they could do with a compliant Hull City or Portsmouth this weekend to regroup and rebuild a little confidence.

    The Hicks/Gillett Jr. spat is a distraction no doubt but neither pick the team and decide the tactics, that responsibilty sits squarely on the shoulders of Rafa Benitez and right now he’s been found wanting. I have a hunch an early Premiership managerial casualty is going to come from a surprising source. Hope not.

  18. October 21, 2009 5:26 am

    Rafa’s time is nearly up, which is a shame because then they might get someone competent in.

    So many people seem to rate Rafa very highly as a manager but I’m afraid I just don’t see it (and never have).

    To write them off so soon though, would be unwise. While if they carry on as they are Liverpool will be lucky to make the top four, we’ve seen enough signs already this season to suggest that none of the ‘big four’ will be as consistent as they usually are, which could be Liverpool’s saving grace – especially if Rafa gets the bullet.

    As an Evertonian though, I’d love to see Rafa stay for a while longer and really run the Reds’ season into the ground…

  19. October 21, 2009 7:59 am

    I won’t write off any of the contenders yet, still many games to play to decide the title, and liverpool are may be not yet out in the race, a win against United can boost their morale and get them back on track

  20. George permalink
    October 21, 2009 11:51 am

    Last night’s performance was shocking. First half we created very little, until Cris was off the pitch with that head injury. Then came our first real chance. When Cris came back on we scored because we’d found a bit of momentum and more importantly the ball found its way to Yossi Benayoun who I rate very highly indeed.

    Second half just got worse and worse. Lyon’s football was too much for us to deal with, and the only threat came from the right hand side and young Martin Kelly, whom I think was outstanding by the way. If we’d have had a better striker up there than N’Gog then we would have won.

    Rafa’s decision to bring Voronin on 5 minutes from time was bizarre, even more so that is was for Benayoun, our best player. Where was Ryan Babel? How many times has he come off the bench and provided something for us? 11 out of his 16 Liverpool goals have come as a sub. Come on man, it’s obvious. He’s got pace, skill and can strike a ball. That’s 3 more things than Voronin’s got.

    Not happy. Adios Rafael.

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