The defeat to Arsenal was a set back however, whether or not it proves to be a minor one or moving towards something more terminal will, in the short tem at least, largely depend on how we do against Manchester City next Sunday.
Steven Gerrard and Rafa lamented the poor decision making by referee Howard Webb who failed to punish Cesc Fabregas for his last minute handball from Gerrard’s free kick. Said Gerrard
“It’s a penalty. The ref told our wall in the first half ‘if anyone raises his hands, I’m going to give a penalty’. But for some crazy reason he hasn’t given the decision. He said to me he never saw it.”
Perhaps if referees, like managers or players, were given the opportunity, or even made to, explain or comment on their decisions to the public after the game incidents like this might not be such a lingering issue? However, this is a road the powers that be don’t seem willing to go down. It’s almost as if they feel the referee’s authority would be undermined by having to go through the ignominy of being seen to honest and transparent by explaining themselves even though they would probably score a decent PR coup. The public might not agree with the decision but they might respect the referee’s honesty if he admitted he was wrong or at least understand the reason why he decided to interpret an incident in a particular way. I certainly don’t think it would be regarded as a sign of weakness.
However, although Gerrard’s ire is understandable nothing can be done, the game won’t be replayed, Arsenal won and that’s it. Nothing can be gained from it and if anything, given Gerrard’s alleged attempt to win a penalty by diving earlier in the game, it just makes us look like whingers and, before we know it, we’ll sounding like Sam Allardyce. It’s probably best to leave it and, as Rafa always says, think about the next game?
One question that will be asked about the next game is will Jamie Carragher be fit enough to play? Rumours are that his groin injury will keep him out for the best part of two weeks which makes him doubtful for Thursday’s UEFA Cup tie and, more importantly, Manchester City the following Sunday. It’s a pity because if there is one area where continuity is needed it’s the defence. It’s a measure of how Rafa hasn’t really managed to sort out his full backs, be it through bad signings or injury that Carragher has had to fill in recently. I’ve a feeling Jamie’s not too keen on this role but it’s certainly paid dividends recently with a stack of clean sheets. Jamie isn’t the most attacking of players but perhaps the back four is benefiting from this rather than having Glen Johnson bombing up the wing all the time?
In an ideal world Carragher should be in the centre and one wonders if Rafa has been tempted to say, play Agger at left back as an experiment? Perhaps he was too badly burnt the last time he tried his with one of his centre backs, remember Martin Srktels’ less than wonderful performance at Middlesbrough last season? Carragher’s move to the middle has also been further complicated, in a good way, by the excellent form of Sotirios Kyrgiakos who in his first couple of games for the club never ever suggested that we would settle the way he has. His good run started at Stoke when Alan Green, on learning that he had been selected, described the Greek as “rubbish” – if ever there was motivation for Kyrgiakos it was that, how sweet to prove opinionated, self promoting, prigs like Green wrong!
Now that Carragher is injured the question is who will take his place? I certainly don’t think the answer lies with Philipp Degen who simply did not look the part on Wednesday and quite frankly, although I hate to say it, hasn’t in almost every game he’s played. I’d be pleased to be proved wrong by Degen but I think it would an idea opportunity to give Stephen Darby or even Martin Kelly a run in the side. Rafa doesn’t always give youth a chance this would be an ideal opportunity to do so and who knows, his full back problem might be solved in his own back yard, and cheaply?
Finally congratulations to Steven Gerrard who has received the dubious honour having himself immortalised (until he gets old and is melted down) in wax at Madame Tussauds! Apparently the wax work cost £150,000 to make. Perhaps, if play our cards right, The Mancs might make an offer of millions and play him alongside Rooney? It would the latest in long line of striking double acts at Old Trafford: Law and Charlton, Cole and Yorke and now…. Wax and Wayne? OK, please yourselves!