Rafa’s “mean and moody” red men plus tab tales

There is a phrase that says that if you keep throwing enough mud at the wall some of it will eventually stick, Rafa seems to subscribe to this. In The Guardian this morning we learn that, after Saturday’s game, he still continues to raise the question of Liverpool’s kick off times after the midweek internationals in the increasingly vain hope that something will be done.

“It is ridiculous to see players playing in friendly games in Australia (Mascherano) and you can’t use them. Some have played one or two full games before they came back. (Alvaro) Arbeloa came back at eight o’clock on Thursday night and you can’t do anything with him. Just ‘come on, get on the plane and go and play.’ It’s really difficult to prepare for a game especially if you have away matches with early Saturday kick-offs.”

One would have more sympathy if we were obviously being targeted and were, as a result, at a significant disadvantage from the other clubs but Arsenal, Spurs and The Mancs also kicked off at Saturday lunchtime. You could argue that a solution to this would be to put the league programme back to Sunday after an international week but, had this happened this weekend, then we would have one less day to prepare for Porto on Tuesday. It’s not an idea situation, but what can you do?

In the meantime Benitez has no choice to be resigned to the situation and Guardian, perhaps in an attempt to ridicule him, gave us this.

“….My players travel more than Willy Fogg all the time, probably. Who? “Willy Fogg? Around the World in 80 Days? Oh, that’s right, Phileas Fogg, sorry.”

No need to be sorry Rafa “Willy Fogg” is the cartoon version of Phileas Fogg. It’s also spelt F.O.G but then it was a Guardian article!

Meanwhile according to The News of The World, The Mancs are going to tell teacher about our conduct over the Gabriel Heinz affair. Apparently they’ve written to the Premier League asking them to look at the episode. There is also the silly claim, or rumour, that we tried to circumnavigate United’s intransigence over the deal by asking Crystal Palace to buy Heinz and to then sell him us. As if the Mancs would be taken in by that!

Of course The Mancs are quite entitled to do this but one wonders what the real thinking behind it is? There seems to be a concerted effort at Old Trafford to have ago us these days, for example we’ve already had Fergie ridiculing Rafa’s comments about the fixture list and the FA. It’s been suggested one reason for this could be that they see us as more of the threat this season. If this is the case bring it on, although personally I believe the best answer to these silly games is to take the moral high ground and treat them with the contempt they deserve by simply ignoring them!

Even though the window is shut, transfer rumours continue. The Sunday Star reports that Manchester City or Juventus are ready to sign Peter Crouch when the transfer window reopens in January. What can you say? Last week it was widely reported that Benitez feels that Crouch, instead of going public about this lack of opportunities, should be thankful to Liverpool the games and opportunities he has had since he moved to us have put him on the International stage. However, if Crouch continues to be omitted from the team, I guess there will come a time when he will want to leave. If he does go, my guess would be next summer although one cannot totally rule January out, for example if England qualify for Euro 2008 he will be eager to get regular first team football to keep himself in McClaren’s mind.

From a tall guy to tall story, surely? Reports suggest Rafa has told the squad to look more mean and moody when they are playing. The idea is based upon sports psychology, show no emotion to your opponents and let them know you mean business? I don’t think this will work especially now this story has gone public. The opposition will be laughing so much that they will be unable to prevent us from scoring. The idea of Peter Crouch or Harry Kewell trying to look “hard” just does not wash, defenders would think they’ve got wind! Perhaps they should all grow Rafa beards and change the kit from red to black and then put on war paint! Apparently this story first appeared in The Sun which, like most of the stuff they print, immediately brings to mind a famous Victor Meldrew catchphrase!

Back tomorrow with a review of the Porto game.

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