In an ideal world, Liverpool would be owned and run by some competent businessmen with credentials to run a club properly and also understand the tradition and passion behind its fans, not consumers. In an ideal world, there would be no backroom squabbling, Rafa Benitez would have signed a new contract at Anfield many moons ago, and Robbie Keane would have turned out to be the best bit of business the Spaniard had made, scoring his second hat-trick in a week to dump Everton out of the FA Cup, just days after thumping them in the Premier League.
Alas, this is no ideal world.
And here we sit this Monday morning, shifting through the morning papers looking for positives. But we find what seems like really a tedious FA Cup replay staring at our faces, scheduled for 8pm on Wednesday 4th February.
Still, maybe we should be grateful for having a second, or third, pop at our Merseyside rivals. And Steven Gerrard’s goal was the result of a marvellous pass from Fernando Torres. But this morning’s papers seem to suggest Liverpool have cooled off the boil they were on at the turn of the year, when they sat top of the Premier League having just come back from a 1-5 victory over Newcastle United.
Peter Lansley of The Times writes on the absence of Robbie Keane from Rafa Benitez’s squad yesterday:
Speculation was also mounting over the future of Robbie Keane, Liverpool’s Â£20.3 million striker, who was omitted from their 18-man squad for the tie, which finished 1-1, and was not at the ground. Asked why Keane was not involved, BenÃtez replied: ‘œHe was not selected. We have a very good squad. I haven’t seen him but he has to be disappointed. Normally all the players want to be in the squad.’
Sam Wallace of The Independent sees the replay as potentially pivotal in Liverpool’s success this season.
Liverpool’s eyes are on the Premier League, but it is the FA Cup that has grabbed them by the scruff of the neck and dragged them down into another debilitating scrap. The replay at Goodison Park on 4 February will have no direct bearing on the title race, but you get the feeling that if Benitez’s side can win there they might leave Goodison that night believing that nothing can stand in their way this season, either in the league or the FA Cup. Lose, and who knows what the effect might be?
Andy Hunter of The Guardian sees things getting a bit petty and ugly now. He describes Benitez’s frustration, and Moyes’ counteracting as the teams prepare to meet for the fourth time this season.
BenÃtez reacted to a second successive draw with Everton here by accusing his depleted rivals of negative tactics and insinuating that, in keeping with the criticism that followed a goalless draw here in 2007, the “small-club mentality” continues at Goodison Park. Moyes refused to be drawn into the debate saying, “Everton do things with dignity and style.” Their spat took attention away from the Liverpool co-owners’ continued attempts to secure new investment in the club and BenÃtez’s treatment of Robbie Keane, who was omitted from the squad following his meagre display in Monday’s league meeting.
So it’s all eyes on Wigan away this Wednesday night, a chance to keep things alive in the Premier League.
Finally, a Happy Chinese New Year to all our Chinese visitors out there.