Since Wednesday’s draw with Wigan it seems that it’s become open season on Rafa.
Sure he took some criticism, in my view deserved, for decisions against Wigan not least the substitutions however, one needs to retain a sense of perspective. Rafa has done more than enough this season to retain support. If anyone has any doubt look at the table now and then at the table a year ago.
It seems that these days managers of the top four have to win every game whilst simultaneously bringing about world peace and an end to the credit crunch to avoid the poison pen. Both Scolari and Wenger have come in for similar treatment however some of the stuff written about Rafa over the last few days has exceeded this.
For example all of a sudden Rafa’s rant against Fergie has taken on greater significance? Why? Apparently because we haven’t won since it happened. Although Rafa was praised for it when it happened, it has suddenly become a sign that he has lost it and that this has transferred to the team! Said Rafa
“After my comments about Mr Ferguson, we still knew we had to win at Stoke. Those words didn’t change anything on the pitch. The same applies to other games this month that have followed some controversy. Every point is important – it doesn’t matter what is being said off the pitch. It is a very long race. I have confidence in my team and my players – and they have a good mentality.”
What’s more Rafa appears to have taken on the role of pantomime villain – he’s nasty to Robbie Keane, bloody minded over his contract demands so much that one journalist who makes a living writing about golf and played in a mediocre 1980’s one hit wonder pop band (so well qualified then?) saw fit to describe him as
“…an emotional pygmy, a man unworthy of being in charge of a great club like Liverpool.”
Quite what Rafa has done to deserve such a nasty, cowardly and unnecessarily personal description is beyond me. He is simply a manager of a football team. He’s not a crook or a murderer, a rapist or a pedophile. Least it be forgotten we are on a fifteen match unbeaten run yes, there have been a number of disappointing draws but we are still in a good position. I suspect that many, when faced with such words will, for all their disappointment at the ways things are going at present, still rally behind Rafa not just because no one likes a bully, be it a physical or verbal one, but simply because as manager of Liverpool, Rafa still retains our confidence and trust
And so to Chelsea no doubt many who live in cliché land will describe this as “six pointer” especially as the Mancs extended their lead last night. A win will certainly stop the rot and, more importantly, put vital breathing space between us and the teams behind. Chelsea games, be they in the league or Europe, have been cagey tense affairs of late. The only time it really opened up was in the Champions League second leg last year when both sides had to go for it and win. Maybe the same will be true of tomorrow? Even though there is still a long way to go, will we see an open game as both sides might feel they have to go for the win?
Either way three points would be most welcome not only as it will enable us to keep up the challenge but also help focus attention away from the off the field nonsense onto the football. Rafa hasn’t really helped this as the rumours are that Keane has again been omitted from the squad! I don’t know if there is any truth in this. Can you rely on reports? For example in one paper Rafa is due to sign his contract having got his way over transfers yet in another he’s off to Man City! Nonetheless if we lose then speculation, about a variety of behind the scenes stuff, is bound to increase?
Prediction? One is tempted to go for the draw however, although we’ve been spluttering of late I expect/hope to see signs of the ignition firing tomorrow and I take us to get back on course with a 2-0 win.
Oct 2008 Chelsea 0 Liverpool 1