In defence of Rafa, learning to live without Stevie, and the spooky Cottage!

I’m just coming down from having sixteen kids round the house for a Halloween party never, never ever again.

I was in charge of the games! Try and organise sixteen kids and get them to do what they are supposed to do without them wondering off to different parts of the garden or the house, it’s like herding cats! I guess the easiest thing to do would be to have an eight a side footy game! Teachers deserve a pay rise, how do they manage to handle twice that number and deal with it, and every day?

As it is Halloween, the 31st October, one wonders how many times the word “nightmare”, or variation of, will be used tomorrow by headline writers or other assorted media glitterati (dam I’ve just done it myself)? If Gary Lineker doesn’t make some sort of “Halloweenesque” (sorry I don’t think that’s actually a word) reference on Match of the Day tomorrow I’ll eat crisps until Christmas, after the party I should have enough! My money is on the tired and distinctly smelly, musty old favourite of likening goalkeepers to Dracula and their collective dislike of crosses!

Anyway I digress. It was nice to see Wigan manager Roberto Martinez spring to Rafa’s defence this week in a Spanish paper. He has suggested that Fergie has a harem of lickspittle acolytes (Bruce and Allardyce for sure but I reckon you can also add in Moyes and Megson) where as Rafa is the poor outsider that everyone picks on, do they steal his lunch at the league manager’s meeting? I suspect Rafa is more than capable of handling himself particularly as he has more support from his club’s fans than whose who seek to laud Fergie have from their own? Equally I suspect that deep down Rafa probably enjoys the craic. Martinez has since sought to deny or clarify his comments however surely there is a degree of truth in what he has supposed to have said?

So to today and for us the visit to Fulham is good and bad. Hopefully the team will be boosted by Sunday’s win. We didn’t have Steven Gerrard fit for that one and, if the headlines are anything are to go by, we will have to cope without him for a bit longer. This is familiar situation almost mirroring last year, the injury is the same (groin) as is, seemingly the solution (an operation).

Gerrard is clearly a key player but we cannot keep relying on him particularly if he keeps getting injured. I guess there is a plus side to his injuries and that is that rest of the squad will be more used to coping without him? If Gerrard is so key then may be it follows that tactics are geared to utilising his strengths and talents. Take away his influence and things will have to change and other players will inevitably come to the fore? No? Ok, but I’m desperately trying to be positive! Remember that in the 180 minutes we’ve played against the Mancs at Anfield we’ve scored four goals and collected six points however Gerrard has only played in ten of those 180 minutes! It can be done.

Elsewhere for today it seems that we will also be without Glen Johnson. Torres is also a doubt. Said Rafa of the Spaniard.

“He is improving. He’s been training and working with the physios. We will see if he is a little bit better this weekend. It’s a difficult situation because if you play games, you often don’t have too much time to get fit again”

Perhaps Rafa will slip back into old ways and give Torres longer to recover with an eye on the vital Lyon game next week? Although the league is still the priority in most people’s book surely only the harshest critic, given the group situation, would chide him for that?

Alberto Aquilani’s debut against Arsenal on Wednesday was seemingly a double edged sword. Although we finally saw him in a red shirt he also picked up a virus! It is early days but Aquilanis injury record is long however reading between the lines of Rafa’s quotes after the game I suspect he wouldn’t play today anyway as match fitness is still an issue?

Prediction? Looks like we are going to be fielding another weakened side? However, we’ve been doing that a lot recently so maybe they are growing and getting stronger together? Fulham are capable of presenting us with a problem however hope springs eternal and a repeat of last seasons last gasp Benayoun winner (see link below) or something similar will be fine. Let’s just get through it? 1-0.

Related post
4th April 2009 Fulham 0 Liverpool 1

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