Well it’s been another difficult week for Reds fans but I’m not really down in the dumps about things, in fact for some strange reason I’m feeling slightly upbeat. There are times when you take so many hits that you just become numb to them and there’s no doubt we’ve put up with more than our fair over the last few weeks but I honestly think that we are starting to come out at the other side of our troubles now and the only way is up for us from here on in.
Obviously I was disappointed with our result in Lyon in midweek but there were some positives for us in the display and if you ignore all the media bullshit, as I do, and judge the game on its own merits then I think you would have to say a big well done to Rafa Benitez. I have no doubts that if we played Lyon with a full strength side, or even a nearly full strength side, we would make mince meat of them but when you travel to the home of the French Champions with half your side missing and a number of your available players not fully fit, they become a much trickier proposition.
That said, I think it was pretty clear that Rafa and Sammy Lee etc did a great job preparing the team, such as it was. We were the better side on night by a long way in my opinion and had at least several great opportunities to get the goals our performance deserved. Perhaps it should also be said that if we used the same simplistic logic that was used to criticise the gaffer’s substitutions at Fulham, then surely he also deserves some praise for making what should have been a match-winning change when Babel came on and scored a thunderbolt.
We should definitely have won the game from there but a straightforward ball into our box managed to turn our defence into the Keystone cops and Lyon once again got another late goal and a result they must certainly didn’t deserve. It was extremely frustrating to say the least but in fairness to the boss I think you would have to say his game plan was spot on and he sent the team on to the pitch well prepared but he can’t score the goals for them nor can he do the defending.
Had we been played off the park by Lyon even with half a team, then I might have been inclined to take a different view but as things turned out I find it difficult to find much fault with the boss. That said, no-one is above criticism and as a football supporter I can usually find something to moan about and there were a couple of things that bothered me about our team last Wednesday.
As I see it we’ve got two big problems when it comes to our current injury list. Firstly half of our team is injured and secondly Voronin isn’t! I just couldn’t understand what in the name of Shanks this bloke was doing in our starting line-up? Many years I gave up on my dream of playing for The Reds but when I see this clown on the pitch it makes me think that maybe I’m still in with a shout! The guy is about as much use as a glass hammer and he should be dropped, preferably from a very large building, but if not that then certainly from the squad.
I can understand why Rafa took a chance on him initially because when you don’t have much cash and an experienced international player with a decent record becomes available on a free transfer, it’s worth the risk. However it didn’t work out and the boss recognises that which is why he sent him out on loan last season and tried to offload him in the summer but even with the injuries we have at the moment I can’t see a reason to play him.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that technically the boss had a good look at the situation ahead of the game and obviously thought that Voronin was the best one suited to the game plan he had in mind but as I don’t have gaffers information at my disposal, I tend to look at things a bit more simplistically and for me Eggnog should certainly have been the one to start the game.
Voronin has no future as a Liverpool player and will certainly be offloaded in January or as soon as we can find some team desperate enough to take him, but Eggnog is a young lad who certainly does have a future at the club and surely it would be more beneficial to us in the long run to give him a start whenever possible. Unfortunately our best chance of the game against Lyon fell to Voronin and he failed to stick it in the net when it seemed harder to miss.
Some people may say this was due to him being low on confidence but I think it was simply down to the fact that he is complete shite. Compare his miserable effort to the cool composure Eggnog showed when he scored against the mancs a couple of weeks ago and it’s clear to see why I would much rather have the Egg man in the team ahead of the Davy Crockett wannabe.
The other thing that bothered me a bit on the night was that Aquilani wasn’t given some time on the pitch. If he was fit enough to be on the bench then he must have been fit enough to play and I was surprised he wasn’t brought on for 10 or 15 minutes. That said, I thought Masch and Lucas had very solid games for us in the centre of midfield and I wouldn’t have been keen to see either of them brought off, so I’m not sure where he would have slotted in.
So as you can see, while I will always claim my right as a football supporter to have a moan from time to time, I can’t promise that my moans will always be logical! All I know is I would have liked to see Aquaman on the pitch but hopefully we’ll get a chance to see him in action tomorrow.
In terms of our future in the CL, we now have to hope that Lyon can do us a favour against Ford Cortina. Despite the fact that they have already qualified for the next stage, I actually think that Lyon will give it a go because they will now want to ensure they win the group. If they can get at least a draw and we beat the goulash munchers it will set up one hell of a final game so we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed. Obviously it will be very disappointing if we end up in the Europa League but if that turns out to be the case it might at least give us the chance to blood some of our youngsters in European competition and we’ll make the most of it.
Which brings me to our game against Birmingham at Anfield tomorrow evening. I’m not normally a big fan of us playing our “weekend” game on Monday evening but given our current situation the extra time we’ve had has turned to be a bit of a bonus and it looks like we’ll have a few more players available. I’m also not a big fan of international breaks but I’m very happy that we’ve now got one coming up that should allow us to get most of our players back to fitness before the league resumes again in two weeks time.
This game is extremely important. We’ve had such a miserable time recently but if we can go into this break on the back of a win, it will give everyone a much needed boost and put a much different complexion on things. Maybe I should know better after all of the crap we’ve had to endure over the last two decades but I’m still an optimist and I still think we’re in with a shout this season. I know a lot of pundits have already written us off but most of those guys are complete morons who know as much about the game as a hedgehog knows about crossing the road!
While it’s true that we’ve had a very bad run recently, people should remember that we’ve also been hit by the worse injury crisis I’ve ever seen at the club and while it’s not for the want of trying on the managers part, we just don’t have a strong enough squad to cope with so many absences. Given our recent run of results our position is obviously far from ideal but while we may be down, we are by no means out of things.
Ironically, the injuries we’ve had mean that some of our main players such as Gerrard, Aquaman, Johnson and Dagger etc, have had little or no football and will be coming back into our side reasonably fresh while some of our rivals may now be having some fitness and injury doubts surrounding some of their main men. It looks likely that by the time this international break is over we should finally have our best 15 or 16 players available and fresh enough for us to make a strong push between now and the end of the year.
So it’s obviously vital that we keep ourselves in touch by taking three points against Birmingham tomorrow. It won’t be easy, they have been a bit of a bogey side for us in the past and they’ve made a decent start to the season but we should have a stronger side available and I’m always confident about our chances at Anfield.
There are still some question marks about the fitness of Torres and to be honest if he’s not 100% I wouldn’t mind us starting with him on the bench. Let’s see how we get on for an hour without him and if we need him bring him on for the last 30 minutes when their defence is tiring or if we happen to be winning by a couple of goals don’t bring him on at all and let him put his feet up. Whatever the case may be, I’m predicting a moral boosting 2-0 win for The Reds and hopefully the media vultures will get off Rafa’s back for a little while and turn their attentions elsewhere.
Keep the Faith