Even though we are top of the league and through to the knock out stages of The Champions League, people be they club personnel or the papers don’t seem to be running through fields of clover on a sunshiny day singing tunes of sweetness and happiness!
Take Ryan Babel. That’s actually what our man was hoping Ajax would do, on loan so he can play for regular football. This episode is the latest, and one of many, which serves to highlight the problems managers like Rafa face in trying to keep players sweet. In the past players such as Crouch, Pennant and Benayoun have all, to varying degrees, shown their disquiet over lack of first team opportunities.
One can understand Babel’s frustration however, surely his situation isn’t so desperate and miserable that he would consider turning his back on the position we are in now? Although this blog has, one more than one occasion, called for Babel to get a more regular run, it’s not as if he’s been totally shut out?
Babel played a full game on Tuesday against PSV and his performance was interesting. On more than one occasion he incurred the wrath of Robbie Keane for shooting when a pass or a cross would have been the better option. So what does this say? He’s still inexperienced and therefore Rafa is right in his assertion that he still needs to learn and be more consistent? Or is it an indication of a desperate man so keen to impress that he’s trying out things he wouldn’t normally try because he wants to make the most of what he sees as a limited opportunity? I have sympathy for Babel but also for Rafa. However, the fact Rafa has ruled out the Ajax idea should give The Dutchman heart as he clearly sees him as part of his plans?
Meanwhile Robbie Keane and Rafa have been on the denial. Keane about him being unhappy at the club and Rafa over an alleged “defeatist attitude” about the clubs title hopes.
Keane quiet rightly played a straight bat and came out with an attitude that might Rafa would have perhaps liked to here for Ryan Babel?
“I never get down about things. Some players get their head down and cry but I’m too mentally strong for that. I’ve only been here a few months and sometimes it does take a little time to settle in. I prefer to be judged a little further down the line than now.”
Enough said and Rafa’s description of his defeatist attitude as “stupid” deals with the other story although I’m not sure what he meant by this?
“If at the end of the Christmas programme we are still top of the table, we will have an 80% option to win the title.”
Even allowing for the folly of actually talking about our title hopes I’m not sure Rafa’s figures, or percentages, stack up! Perhaps he was trying to avoid the cliché of saying the best policy is to simply concentrate on today’s game against Hull?
If recent form at L4 is anything to go by, one could be forgiven for hoping the game was at the KC Stadium! However, this is another game we should be expected to win, even allowing for Hulls impressive start. They have of course have proved stubborn opposition and, on more than one occasion, prevailed when they were probably expected to roll over and lose most notably at The Emirates. However, no doubt we will be extra keen not to slip up at home against so called lesser opposition again?
Prediction? Team wise one would expect the likes of Alonso, Gerrard, Kuyt et all to return from their midweek rest so hopefully they will be fresher than usual. Score? I’m probably more worried than I should be because of Fulham and West Ham, but that probably says more about me than the team! I should keep the faith so I’ll go for 2-0.
Enjoy the game.