Much of the attention following the debacle at Fulham on Saturday has focused on Rafa Benitez’s withdrawal of Fernando Torres after an hour, with the score level at 1-1.
Fair enough, Torres isn’t fully fit and an £11m player should be able to come on and provide something up front, shame that player was Ryan Babel but that’s another story. I don’t see why Torres’ withdrawal has been made the total centre of debate.
For me, the bigger question should be why Yossi Benayoun, our most creative player on the pitch at 2-1 down, was withdrawn with 12 minutes remaining when fully fit.
Benayoun himself didn’t look impressed with the decision and it seemed to signal Benitez was happy to settle for a defeat and rest players ahead of the Champions League match at Lyon on Wednesday. It was throwing the towel in like at Reading a few years back.
Furthermore, what, exactly, happened to the five players who were seemingly fully fit and available on Friday, yet weren’t in the squad. Where they rested ahead of the Lyon match? If so it’s a huge gamble which has backfired on Benitez.
The players are sub keeper Diego Cavalieri – who was replaced by 19 year old Peter Gulacsi who has never been involved in the first team before – centre backs Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger – I’d have preferred either to Sotirios Kyrgiakos – left back Fabio Aurelio – a better option that Insua who looks tired and poor defensively – and forward David Ngog – a better option than Babel and arguably Voronin too.
The thing is, none of them are exactly key players so why would they be rested ahead of the Lyon match? I can see the logic in resting one of Agger or Skrtel but why both? I cannot see the logic in not including Ngog or Cavalieri, or Aurelio.
The question is, where they rested or has the Liverpool squad been hit with swine flu? Lucas Leiva was reported to have “flu” (not swine flu according to Benitez) and missed the Arsenal defeat, while Alberto Aquilani had “flu” (again Benitez said not swine flu) following the Arsenal match.
If the Reds squad has been hit with flu, nobody has confirmed it.
One thing is for sure ahead of the Lyon match, with Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly both injured, and Philipp Degen not in the Europe squad, Benitez has a huge problem at right back. Youngster Stephen Darby is the only fully fit and available option, unless Rafa opts to switch Carragher there.
It’s a massive week ahead and Liverpool fans should just hope some of the players out injured regain fitness, and fast.