It’s strange how many people wanting to accuse Liverpool or highlight our inadequacies compared to other clubs choose to play the “you’re a two man club” card.
Highlighting the fact that Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are the only two worth their salt in the squad is pointless, not mention insulting to the other players. Gerrard and Torres could not function without them. It’s easy to say that having a few more top class players will undoubtedly improve the side yet did Real Madrid, when their team was packed with so called “galacticos”, take the footballing world by storm? Surely it is how the team interacts with each other for the common good that is important? The fact that this hasn’t happened for us this season is not solely because we’ve only got two so called world class players?
For all this people, in an half arsed attempt to explain our recent demise, still lazily say we are two man team. So it made me laugh that so much attention has been paid to the fate of the Mancs, not to mention England, now that Wayne Rooney is injured. Then there is Arsenal who are now without Fabregas for the rest of the season. Surely there should be no such talk as both clubs should have more than adequate replacements to step in or that’s implication as, unlike us, neither side gets branded a two or one man team? Then of course there was the other nights game at the Nou Camp which was called by Sky the “Lionel Messi show” clearly, when it suits the mood or the occasion, the concept of the one man team isn’t just confined to these shores yet for us it’s a sign of weakness!
Back to base and no doubt the pressure will increase on Rafa after Sundays Brum draw. Rafa talked about retaining belief and confidence even though room for manoeuvre is pencil thin and we are more than ever reliant on others slipping up. Said Rafa.
“We just have to think about getting three points against Fulham on Sunday and then see what happens. We have to keep the belief”
If I wasn’t as annoyed as I was when writing the Brum match report I’d say this should also extend to Rafa. Namely believing in in his players that when they say they can do a job they will do it, rather an adopting a “manager knows better” approach and hauling players off as opposed to having the conviction to field his strongest side at all times!
Anyway it’s Benfica tonight and what I suspect promises to be quite a feisty occasion. No doubt the crowd will be very keen to prove that Benfica are not the only home support who can make a racket and make their mark on the game. For all the sendings off, dubious penalty decisions and crowd inspired pyrotechnics, I suspect beneath the surface lies a very competent Benfica team. In terms of the tie I don’t think it’s a simple as saying “wait to we get you back to Anfield”. De Maria and Cardozo will not be fazed and their team’s record in the Portuguese league proves this.
Because of this it is all the more important to ensure the back four is set up correctly. We will be without Inusa (suspended) and Kelly, Aurelio and Skrtel (injured). So, who goes to left back? Carragher? or perhaps Johnson could swap over and we could move Mascherano, to right back where he played against Blackburn? Said Rafa
“We were practising today with three defenders and with different players in different positions, so we will see how we’ll manage tomorrow.”
Elsewhere it seems that Torres has recovered from his bout of “exhaustion” and let’s hope he is given enough rope to make an impact this time.
Prediction? The away goal should prove decisive although given what happened at Old Trafford last night we should not take things for granted. A repeat of the Lille performance were we were patient, kept cool heads and eventually came out on top, would be great however, more so tonight the defence, makeshift or otherwise, needs to be on it’s guard as there is bound to be a spell where Benfica will try and batter us.
However, I take Torres to make his mark, partly because of the exasperation he felt on Sunday, and think we will win out by 3-1 and that will be an excellent birthday present for me!