It’s weird, the number of “congratulations well done” I got on Friday morning made me wonder if I had actually played for Liverpool on Thursday night! Why do they say that? No “good result for your team” or “you must be happy” but all this. What do you say to it “That’s OK, it was nothing” which, in terms of my contribution, it was!
After this week Rafa thankfully refrained from commenting on the Champions League exit of The Mancs. Fergie’s “typical Germans” comment made him and his club look more stupid than anything he could say. However Rafa was prompted to suggest we are back at the level we were at his time last season and that we are one of the best teams in Europe.
“We were at this level last year. Benfica are one of the good teams, a massive club and one of the best sides in Europe. There is no doubt about this, I think we are one of the best sides in Europe”
I guess this depends on how bigger list you make? However, I suspect we will have to play a few more games, some of them going into next season, before Rafa can say such a thing without raising a few eyebrows. Probably best to just concentrate on the next three, which could determine our Champions League fate next season, rather than put yourself up to be unceremoniously shot down?
The first leg of the semi final against Atletico Madrid is on 22nd April but before that we have three league games that are winnable and we have to do just that if fourth place is to be achieved. Fulham at Anfield today, West Ham at home on Monday and then Burnley at Turf Moor the following weekend. Nothing less than nine points will be acceptable and whilst we are hopefully achieving that, we can only hope that Spurs and Man City slip up in their games which involve, in no particular order, the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, the Mancs and playing each other? The race is still on but now is the time to put or heads down, work hard and run and hope the others shoot themselves in the foot?
Fulham, today’s opponents, have had an excellent season proving that last term wasn’t just a flash in the pan. It will be an unexpected but nice pleasure should we both line up against each other in Hamburg. Roy Hodgson got some criticism from West Ham over the strength of their line up after their last but one UFEA Cup tie and I noticed that on Sky last night he was suggesting to might do something similar today. I hope Rafa isn’t tempted to do the same thing as we need to win so nothing but the strongest side will do. After this we don’t play until 19th April so there will be plenty of opportunity for rest. If Gerrard’s and Torres’ reaction to the substitutions at Birmingham was anything to go by he might have a job stopping the players from going onto the pitch anyway!
Team wise we will have Maxi available again and I suspect that will be the only change Rafa will make although may be Babel, who returns after suspension, might feature?. Anyway a word about Jose Reina who has signed a new deal with us. Said Jose….
“I’m delighted it’s probably the best news of my life that I’ll be here for the next six years. It’s very important that my family love it here as well, as family life is just as important as my career. My wife told me from the beginning she was more than happy here. My kids enjoy it and they have picked up the Scouse accent already. I am really proud of that. In the years ahead they will speak much more Scouse too.”
Top man and nice to here Jose speak like that when all to often all players go about is their career wanting success. Even if Torres scores a hat trick in every game between now and May Jose will still be my player of the season. Without him we wouldn’t even be sniffing around fourth place. He is the best keeper in the Premiership.
Prediction? I guess it all depends of with version of Fulham turns up? However, we’ve good record at home against them and I take this to continue with a 2-0 win. By the way this blog now has a full index of match reports since it started in October 2006 so for reports of previous games, against Fulham since this date click here.
Finally, happy birthday Sam, hope you like your presents.