If I had a fiver for every time the words “comeback”, “escape” or “lucky” were mentioned in the papers or at work yesterday the credit crunch would not be a problem for me!
I guess we should expect such words, uninformed or otherwise, when we keep turning in results like Saturdays against Wigan? However, I am not at all convinced that winning games in the way we have this season i.e., letting the opposition make the running and then hauling them back, is “lucky”. Sure our last two come backs have been helped by the opposition having a man sent off but credit were credit’s due? At the moment the word “defeat” does not seem to come into our vocabulary and our determination to live up to this mantra has been seen in our performances which suggest there is much more to it than just luck?
Nonetheless Rafa, meticulous to the end, must also be asking himself some searching questions. How did we allow ourselves to get in these positions (chasing the game) in the first place? Do we have a defence issue? (four goals conceded in the last two league games?) and why do we always seem to start so slowly? It cannot of escaped him that there will probably come a point when the opposition will be disciplined enough not allow us back into the game in the way that Wigan and Manchester City did. I suspect that time may come next Sunday when we trot out at Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea. Said Rafa.
“I don’t like to do it this way I’m not disappointed now, but for everyone involved with us it would be much better to score and play well in the first half and then enjoy the game,”
Perhaps not the way most would envisage the Chelsea game going and who would bet on them going 2-0 up only to be hauled back? However the point is relevant re Saturday and the other comeback games, against Middlesbrough, The Mancs and Marseille, just as it is for Wednesday’s trip to Madrid. I’m sure Rafa would have liked to substitute some players for Atletico rather than having to keep them on to chase the game? However, perhaps we should be grateful he did just that rather give up the ghost entirely and save players for what it in the past has been regarded as the greater prize, anyone remember Reading away last year?
Yet to criticise would be churlish in the extreme. With our three best players injured (Torres), travel weary (Mascherano), or subdued/tired (Gerrard) one has to be encouraged by the resolve the rest of the team showed? In short they were well up for it! And who hasn’t enjoyed the entertainment these comebacks have produced? No one at Anfield on Saturday could fault the belief and determination of the team and, as I’ve said before, you can’t ask for more than that regardless of where we end up?
Meanwhile despite attention being on the pitch, things behind the scenes seem to be their usual, chaotic, disorganisned self? Although confidence in football’s poorest billionaires still leaves a lot to be desired, certain reports appear to have a slightly exaggerated take on the way things are. A quick flip through the Sunday red tops sees reports about uncertainly amongst some players over committing themselves to the club because Rafa has yet to sign a new contract. It is also suggested that with only 18 months on his deal, Rafa doesn’t feel he has the authority to talk to players over this.
It’s one thing to for the owners to find themselves handstraped by the current financial situation over stadium development, and other plans for the future, but when there are signs of their of lack liquidity impacting on or delaying things like key contracts then perhaps it is really time for them to look at what they can effectively bring to the club and do the honorably thing? Then again in on the same page on which one of these articles appears was an apology – to Rafa for printing an inaccurate report last February over comments about the owners that he did not make!
Take your pick over what to believe or, better still, don’t read it? If only we could!