I’ve been one of the more optimistic ones through these last two months, but now I have to admit our faint title hopes are completely and utterly gone this morning. Middlesbrough‘s 2-0 victory over us yesterday was embarrassing and depressing. Most teams would expect to follow up a brilliant performance in the Bernabeu with a comprehensive return to domestic action. But yesterday wasn’t a surprise. We’ve been here before. And really, you could see it coming.
This morning’s headlines read: ‘˜Liverpool title challenge in tatters’ (Sunday Times), ‘˜Wasteful Liverpool misfire’ (Sunday Telegraph), ‘˜Tuncay ends Boro’s poor run and leaves Liverpool’s title hopes in tatters’ (The Observer), ‘˜It’s all over Rafa ‘“ that’s a fact’ (Independent on Sunday) and ‘˜Tuncay terminates Reds’ title hopes’ (Mail on Sunday).
Paul Wilson of The Observer gives full praise to Middlesbrough in his match report, but knows Liverpool must be ruing missed chances. As the game went on, he described, it was an all too familiar situation ‘“ another title escaping Anfield.
When the Liverpool captain was withdrawn a quarter of an hour from the end suffering from cramp, it felt as though Liverpool were throwing in the towel. Not just in this game, but on another domestic season.
On the whole situation around the club at the moment, especially paying note to the impending resignation of chief executive Rick Parry, Nick Townsend of the Sunday Times writes:
Waiting for Rafa. It’s been more tortuously theatrical than Waiting for Godot. Except that this character will eventually appear, presumably with pen in hand after a year-long saga.
Off the field, the way now appears clear for him to sign, following Parry’s resignation ‘” an acceptance that the latter’s relationship with co-owner Tom Hicks was beyond repair. Benitez said beforehand that ‘œThere have been no winners or losers in this’. Some cynics would contend that there have been losers ‘” on the pitch.
Rob Stewart of The Telegraph similarly pins some of the blame for Liverpool’s blow title claim on the off-field politics that have been spoiling any progress for two seasons in a row now.
The behind-the-scenes chaos that has become synonymous with Anfield this season was mirrored by disarray throughout Rafael Benitez’s side at the Riverside as they failed to make up ground on pacesetters Manchester United