By Ollie Irish
“How do you control this thing?”
That’s it then. All of the goodwill earned by Rafa Benitez with the Champions League win in Istanbul in 2005 has now run out – there’s not a drop left.
After Liverpool lost to Reading at Anfield last night, time is surely up for the Horizontally Challenged Spanish Waiter. Or, as one Liverpool fan put it, on F365 today:
“I know I keep trotting this out, but in the last 2 years he has destroyed the squad, Hyypia, Dudek, Finnan, Riise, Pennant, Crouch, Bellamy, Fowler, Kewell, Arbeloa, Alonso, Garcia, Keane. Now, ok some not at their best [sic] and how he would have kept them all happy is another issue. However, having said all that, all of those players I have listed you would be happy with to call upon. It is Benitez fault [sic] the squad is poor. He had the players and he has got rid of them, ok he has bought in possibly the world’s best striker in the last two seasons, but the squad is shocking, at best a Championship squad.”
When you see those names listed, you realise that, yes, Rafa has done his best to strip Liverpool of a substantial number of more-than-decent players, and he hasn’t managed to replace them with better models – in fact, he has downgraded in most cases. Bar Torres, who everyone could see was more than just a good player, and whose nationality meant that it was easier for Benitez than his rivals to tempt to Anfield, Rafa’s dealings in the transfer market have been a total failure.
That would be fine if results were still good. But after the promise shown last season, this season has been a calamity. It seems that most teams have figured out how Liverpool play – without creativity, most of the time. Hell, Reading certainly figured it out.
The problem is, Benitez does plenty of homework, but he’s utterly mechanical – not to mention stubborn and, in post-match interviews at least, plain childish – in his use of tactics. We know the drill by now: two holding midfielders stay put, strikers-perversely-converted-to-wingers work their guts out on the wings, Stevie G runs around like the proverbial headless chicken, and if that doesn’t create chances (it doesn’t), then simply pray that Fernando Torres is fit and can win you the game with a moment of magic. It’s utterly predictable, shamefully so on Rafa’s part.
Speaking of Gerrard and Torres, it appears that the former – who is having his worst season in a long time – is at the stage where he no longer has the desire to play for the man he has defended to the hilt, whereas it seems increasingly bizarre that a player of Torres’s quality should ply his trade at Liverpool, rather than the likes of Barcelona or Chelsea.
If there are any Rafa defenders out there, I wonder what possible argument they could make for the current manager to keep his job. Even if it costs a ridiculous amount of money to sack Benitez, it’s something that has to be done now.
Agree/disagree? Let’s ‘ave it…