Author : Aravind
Blog : http://bigfourza.wordpress.com/
Note : This post was written after the defeat to Fiorentina in the Champions league.
The Past few weeks have seen the worst crisis period of your wonderful career. There are times I used to think what made you quit as a Valencia coach and join Liverpool. You had two La Liga titles and a Uefa cup glory with a meek Valencia side. And yet you chose us because of an altercation with your former employers. You asked for a table and they gave you a Lampshade. That was your answer. Which makes me wonder. Because a lot of people keep asking why Rafa Benitez is still not sacked as the Liverpool Coach. A Ridiculous question. My way of putting it is why hasn’t Rafa Benitez quit Liverpool yet. You asked for a table and you had to buy a Lampshade. Only you had to sell for it.
If only people realise what you have done for a club that was at the end of a tottering collapse. The club was on the verge of becoming the next Leeds having lost Michael Owen, the then Fernando Torres, on cheap. Many might have forgotten that Steven Gerrard was on his way to Chelsea. In an ideal world any manager would have made money on Gerrard and bought a couple of strikers to replace Owen. You chose to convince him by giving him an attacking role, a master-stroke, which led to a never before seen Gerrard drilling goals whenever the team needed. Since then he has scored in double digits every season a feat which he accomplished once far back in 2001. This is for me your greatest move even bigger than the signing of Torres. I can only shudder to think what it would have been had it went otherwise.
There are many other pieces of gem, some of which I would like to highlight. Making Jamie Carragher, a non-regular under Houllier, the cornerstone of Liverpool defence, signing of Pepe Reina who has won three consecutive golden gloves, Xabi Alonso the pass master, Luis Garcia’s role in UCL, Javier Mascherano one rotting in West Ham reserves to the one who Barcelona will sign for a 36m fee, transformation of Dirk Kuyt the striker to Dirk Kuyt the winger, Steven Gerrard as second striker and Fernando Torres who was not exactly the next big thing in football as many say now but a promising 14 goals per year youngster etc. The list goes on. Those were the highs. There are lows as well like Andrea “and the ball goes for a goal kick” Dossena who will leave Liverpool as a fullback but yet to deliver a single accurate cross. Of course the lows list goes on as well but none as glaringly obvious as this.
Anyone in this gloryhunting part of which I live will say your only accomplishment was six minutes of freaky football plus a FA Cup. Something easier to say. My way of recognising your feats is how you moved up a team that was 30 points behind the leaders when you arrived to a team that came daringly close last year. Your arrival to the club was made tough by the beginning of a new Chelsea empire. And since then even Arsenal who were once part of the big two have found it difficult. If only there was a way of recognising runner up positions and adding them up you would stand right up there above all. But that’s the way I see it. For me the titles take a backseat. It’s the little moments that come and go by every weekend that matter more. Like your twin substitutions against Olympiakos turning the game for us, benching Gerrard for a League match that caused an uproar only to be called a gem move after Istanbul, transforming Peter Crouch’s head from a non-goal scoring streak to a goal scoring one including a header against United in the run up to FA cup glory, how you took Barcelona by surprise and went for the Jugular in UCL 07, spotting the hole in Chelsea’s wall for a Danny Agger goal that was decided in training ground(my all time favourite). What am I trying to do here? This blog won’t be enough to fill up the space of all the little moves you made that won the game for us.
Liverpool are number one in the UEFA ranking (atleast until the next release). That’s the recognition I was talking about. This means lot for a club that has made it’s name in the competition. 21 years the club has waited and you delivered it. Now the danger of being eliminated is lurking around. Trully down to bad luck, but others fail to think so. They say the manager is responsible, because he sold Xabi Alonso and bought in an attacking full back and an injured Italian. They say it’s all down to yours playing Lucas in midfield. A guy called Maddy once wrote about how Arsene Wenger spent two years “for the sake of players he had faith in” after some pivotal players left the team. I couldn’t agree more in telling what you are doing to the likes of Lucas now. Following you has made me far less short-sighted. Your reason for buying Aquilani was that you wanted a player for five years and not for five months. In any day, I will taking losing for the moment so that the future remains bright. I salute you sir for the extent to which you look towards the future of the club even though you being a part of it might be doubted. Until last year the club relied on Alonso in directing passes towards the wing. Glen Johnson and Auerlio have restored some parity by providing width right from the defence something non-existent before.
While those are the ones I could understand, some of your moves continue to baffle me. For example, what happened to your old rotation system. What happened to the players playing out of position. Why didn’t Ryan Babel start against Birmingham. Why did Riera start against Birmingham. Dare I not say everyone is human and not infallible. But I seemed to like the old stubborn Rafa more than the orthodox new 67th minute Ryan Babel substituting one. For me Ryan Babel is a cut above Kuyt in delivering the final ball. His goal against Lyon proves he can change matches as he has done before. Kuyt is more of an option against bigger teams when he rattles the ball from the defence to the opposite box. But against minnows Babel can play. I don’t want him to be flushed down in January. He is a much bigger asset to lose. A little bit of rotation can help. Likewise Benayoun is wasted on the left. Sometimes a little bit of fantasy league will help.
I hope you are not as baffled as me on what is the right thing to do at the situation now. The way I look at it, it can be seen as a blessing in disguise. The poor run of the club has highlighted squad building and it could make the owners spend a dime or two. Am not sure if January is the time to jump in. But Van Der Vaart seems a good option. The least I expect is no panic buys. It would be better off to lose the league and come back at summer.
And this is why I like you more. Even your failures have been a lesson for me in this journey of my support as against clubs who like sack their manager at will . And that is why I or the large group of scousers are sticking for you. And that is why you haven’t left us behind yet like you ditched Valencia.
About the blog : BigFourZa is a blog on the big four in football, where we entertain the readers, discuss and dissect every bit of news the big four clubs generate. Transfers, match days, bar brawls, red cards, goals, injuries, – pretty much everything. Oh, and also the WAGs! Comment, vote, opine, pick a fight or just go crazy. As we say, there is only one big four and the rest are just pretenders.