I have to totally agree with Alex Malone in his article stating that Rafa really does seem to be developing a stubborn streak which was the eventual downfall of Gerard Houllier. Again, as Alex said, ‘œdifferent but the same!’
Now I am not going to cover old ground as Alex has covered it all [Yes Alex you completely buggered up my next article, I read yours thinking, Jesus, I would have said this almost the same!] so I am trying to see it from another point.
The only other angle I could think off, not for want of looking for many, was the ‘˜Pako’ way!
Having done some research on Mr Ayesteran, I cannot really seem to find a REAL reason for his leaving, I think to everyone, we sort of knew him but he was a stranger. We knew of him but nothing much about him (and I am still not much wiser!). One source states, that it was always his intention to leave Rafa, once he had completely settled in after a few seasons. Another states that Rafa disliked the somewhat friendly relationship between Pako and Mourinho. Whatever the reason, his leaving has caused (or seems to have) the team to lose all focus.
Now we all know they have worked together for a good few years and their working relationship started at Tenerife over a decade ago. This relationship came to real fruition with the 2 La Liga titles with Valencia. It helped us win the Champions League and the FA Cup. Then all of a sudden he is gone!
The thing with both Rafa and Pako is they both believed that no same 11 players can play all the games regardless of how fit they are. He states that when a player comes to him and says they need to train as they have played too much and need to do some training then only then do they truly understand the meaning of training! (Sounds like some bloody Chinese philosophy, ‘œWise man once say’¦’¦..!!!’)
If we are to believe that it was always his intention to return to Spain at some point, why was this never ever mentioned to the fans? In fact in this case, sod the fans, why not the players? After all some have allegedly said that training is not the same. Whether this is an emotional difference as they have had him around for a few years or whether they actually mean that training has physically changed, only they can answer.
Watching from the wings, I fall along the side of the physical change. The players seem tired later on in games (and have played rather badly for most of the rest (except for Reading)). Marseille deserved their win. We were lucky against Wigan (as were the fans in with the Wigan fans (their bloody stewards and the police stood by for a good 3 or 4 minutes before doing anything, shitehouses)) although other than my steak & chips before the game, that was almost the highlight! Had it not been for the fact I took my daughter to her first away match and she was so excited, I would have fallen asleep!).
Seriously though, does anyone else see the lack of stamina at the moment? It has only happened since the international break around when Pako left. Surely training methods have not changed? After all Rafa is still in charge. How different could it possibly be? Did someone not just come in and carry on the same methods and length of sessions? Can the players not be trusted to do it themselves? Or is it just sheer bloody mindedness on Rafa’s part?
Regardless of what anyone thinks, Rafa will be Rafa and to be honest I don’t think it’s the disease known as ‘œHoullieris fecktupis’ but a genuine ‘œI know what I am doing road’ that Rafa is travelling on. 3 full seasons, 1 Champions League win, one runner up and one FA Cup means I will give him the benefit. I do now think that our regular first team squad are good enough to play for the club. I mean Leto, Lucas etc will get better as time goes on, Momo needs some control work (and not just because of Marseille, he has needed it for a while!), the players just need to buck up and show us all that it is our ‘œblip’ for the season and we are over it and come out all guns blazing.
However, the most important thing for me is that Pako Ayesteran needs replacing as a matter of urgency, or at least someone needs to step up to the brig and carry on with his methods.
Come on redmen, remember what the song says’¦.“A team that plays the Liverpool way and wins the championship in May.”
Give it everything, lay our fears to rest and shut that fucker Andy Gray up!
P.S ‘“ Did anysone see Itandje after the Marseille game? As he walked past Rafa and gestured to spit at him (don’t think he actually did) but it was in the action and his face. I didn’t see it but a friend in work mentioned it and said that he could not believe it, he said he must have rewound the SKY+ 10 times to check. He has sent it in to Soccer AM’s 3rd Eye. I Am currently scanning the net for a full 90 minute recording so I can check myself! I will then report back!?