Kenny Dalglish has this week given his backing to under-fire Reds boss Rafa Benitez after the Anfield manager was heavily criticised for the team he put out at Portsmouth last weekend.
With Dirk Kuyt, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres left warming the bench until the latter stages at the South Coast club, Rafa was still attacked by some in the media, claiming the Reds got lucky. Despite the positive result, it was still claimed that Rafa had ‘got out of jail’.
However, Dalglish – the canny Scot who guided Liverpool to their last league title back in 1990 – had other ideas.
‘œIt’s very easy for a manager to say same again,’ he rapped. ‘œBut in some respects it’s a cop out.
‘œSometimes I am sure managers do that as an easy way out.
‘œWas it a brave decision? I wouldn’t say that, but it was certainly honest and he doesn’t need to explain his reasons.
‘œThe ultimate aim is to put a team out that is going to win the match.
‘œI have never spoken to a manager, and I have never heard a manager say he was putting a team out to lose a match.
‘œRafa has every entitlement to change the team and the formation.
‘œHe is the man in charge. If he doesn’t get it right he will get criticised. But in this case he did get it right and he was still criticised.
‘œThe key was finding something the players were comfortable with.
‘œAurelio had played midfield before with Valencia, so what was the problem with that?
‘œWhen you see Tony Adams scratching his head on the touchline for 15 minutes because he was working out what to do about Liverpool’s system, and then had to make a substitution after 45 minutes to counter it, you know it’s worked.
‘œImagine if you were Tony Adams when you saw that team.
‘œYou’ve spent all week working on a formation to counteract Fernando Torres through the middle with Stevie G tucked in behind, expecting those two to be supported by Riera and Kuyt.
‘œNot one of the four starts the game! You’re up against something new and unexpected and you’re in the middle of a depressing run of results.
‘œPeople say Liverpool got lucky because Distin made a mistake. It doesn’t matter. Liverpool won 3-2 and went back to the top of the league.
‘œFor me that’s down to the manager.’