While all people around me seem to enjoy pre-Christmas time, I am not in the mood to join them. I am too worried about what is going on at our beloved Liverpool FC. I cannot remember a more terrible Christmas in terms of football but then I cannot remember a worse spell of luck either. Fact is: the refs really are not on our side, I’ve lost count on how many big decisions went against us. But unfortunately it is also a fact that our team from last season simply does not show up. At the moment it lacks quality in pretty much every department apart from the goalkeeping position. I do not dare to think where we would be if Pepe would have been injured this season… It’s obvious that apart from a few exceptions (Pepe, Torres, Ngog), none of our players are on the level that we expect from them. Steven Gerrard seems a different player from last season, no inspiration, hardly goals and his typical leader qualities fail to shine through. True, he was injured but still, we should expect more from our Captain. The defense, one of Europe’s best not so long ago, looks shaky and vulnerable at every set piece. In midfield Mascherano switches between monster performance and red cards while Lucas is trying his best to replace Xabi Alonso but (understandably) still lacks experience and class. The judgment on Aquilani is yet out because we still haven’t seen enough from him. Our wingers are quite simply awful with the exception of Benayoun and even he was in better form at the start of the season. I miss the passing skills and especially the spirit of the team that last year showed such an impressive “never say die”-attitude and came back from behind to win games. I wrote it a few weeks ago: what we need more than anything else is confidence and it hurts to see that we did not make a single step of progress in this matter.
Now we are at a decisive point of the season: title dreams are all over but our position is so serious that the next games still are all must-win games. We now are in a situation where we cannot afford to drop points at Villa Park because we move further and further away from 4th place with Villa being in great shape. Not to mention Tottenham and Manchester City. If we fail to beat Wolves, Villa, Reading in the FA Cup and Spurs, we are in deep troubles and I am not sure if there is enough time left to recover this season. Villa broke down towards the end of last season but I do not want to rely on this hope. And I do not have to explain what missing out on the CL would mean for Liverpool in terms of keeping and signing players.
The pressure on Rafa is rising but all he can do now is hoping that the players will respond. The players did all the talking, now they have to finally live up to their words. They all let us down so far and while I accept it becomes more and more difficult to win the title in England with so tough competition around, I cannot accept a team that does not show the right spirit and performs below par more often than not. Most of the players can play a lot better than they are doing which might be the result of a lack of confidence. But they have to understand that they can only win back their confidence by fighting their way back into games and showing commitment, not in front of a micro but on the pitch. We have to force the luck back on our side again. It takes players with character now but we doubtless have them in our side. Rafa has been loyal to his players, kept the faith with them – now it is about f****** time they pay him back!
Oh, and if Santa Clause is reading, my wish-list looks as follows:
1. New owners. We need to get rid of these cheats. I admit that it will take a miracle to see new owners coming in but hey, if not at Christmas when else is the time for miracles?
2. Back up Striker. I dream of Edin Dzeko but will modestly accept anything that is better than our current alternates that are either still too young, not clinical enough or simply not good enough.
3. Right Winger. Please, the current interpretation of that position drives me mad, give us an alternate.
Merry Christmas to all of you, YNWA!