With just over half of the season gone, what a pickle Liverpool find themselves in. Out of the title race (that we were apparently supposed to win), out of the Champions League (you know, the one that many people ‘didn’t care about as long as we won the League’), languishing in 7th, and one point in front of McLeish’s marauding Brummies, battling with Villa and City to try to relinquish Spurs’ 2-point grasp on fourth spot. Same story, different different competitors.
Not to cover over the cracks, it has been a ridiculously bad season. Players hitting form for all of a couple of matches, and quickly going out of form again. Players getting injured, players scoring own-goals, and players conceding late goals it has had it all in abundance. It has been shocking, and I cannot blame anyone for wanting the season to end now just so we can start again later.
Even though the high-points have been few and far between there are many who wouldn’t get rid of Rafael Benitez. Even though at one point it was the majority (it might still be), the man will always have the backing of a large proportion of Liverpool fans. Even in the face of dismal performances like that against Reading, Wolves, Birmingham, er…Portsmouth, Blackburn etc, with critics and fans alike queuing up to have a go, I don’t think there will ever be a time in his reign where the fans turn completely.
It seems that every Rafa fan has been typecast. It seems that anyone who supports him is part of the IRWT (In Rafa We Trust) Brigade. Now I consider myself to still be a Rafa fan, but I wouldn’t put myself in that category. I trust Rafa to do bring us out of this mess, but the connotations attached to anyone who does trust Rafa are that they blindly follow him, irrespective of his faults and his mistakes, and his undenying, infuriating, and sometimes disrespectful stubborness. These cannot be right can it? I mean, most of us who still believe that Rafa can come good do not think that he is without his faults, but just believe that his faults will not stop him from taking us out of he mire.
It has become apparent that having a bit of faith in Rafa is in some way ‘excusing’ the situation we are in. Almost as if a bit of loyalty isn’t warranted anymore. The way I see it, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t sure of the manager’s credentials, that is part of football. However saying that those who are are just accepting mediocrity is just stupid. As if Rafa fans like being in this situation? Nobody is accepting mediocrity, and almost certainly nobody is accepting the position we are in (which is even worse than mediocre). Everyone wants to see us back challenging for the title and at least the Top Four. It is just that people disagree on the person to take us there.
I’m not going to go into more discussion on why Rafa is the man to take us there and why the stats all back him up and how the owners aren’t doing their job because that has all been said before. It just strikes me that fans who want to see the back of Rafa think that those who do aren’t ‘real’ Liverpool fans. They are quick to quote Shankly without (it seems to me) understanding that Rafa and Shanks might have had different managerial styles, but their dedication to the team and its fans can never be in doubt.
So it seems that LFC fans are divided into pro- and anti-Rafa. But just because you belong to one does not mean that you are any more of a Liverpool fan – and that works both ways.