By Danny Caro
January 29, 2009
On January 16 I posted a blog advising Liverpool’s owners to get Rafa Benitez’s new contract agreed as quickly as possible. As per last season, it has been a very frustrating month for us Liverpool fans and the uncertainty over his and the future of several other key players has seen the team slip off the pace.
Local lads Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher also urged the board to sort out Rafa’s future quickfast. Last season, also around January, Benitez had a public slanging match with the owners and it seems that his stubbornness is affecting the team once more. He wants to do things his way and be in charge of transfers but it appears that he has taken his eye off the eight ball and the team’s title hopes have suffered as a result.
Liverpool fans have been flying high all season with the team top of the table but the unrest has left them nervous and unsettled. I hate to say it but the knives are out for Rafa to get his shop in order and start doing what he’s paid to, win football matches.
Reds supporters are among the most loyal and passionate in the game but during last night’s draw at Wigan, some were calling for Rafa’s head along with those of Lucas and Ryan Babel. Yossi Benayoun is another player who, when given the chance, is frustratingly inconsistent although it was he who scored a crucial opener, from a very acute angle.
£20 million signing Robbie Keane is scratching his head as much as the other Liverpool fans. He hasn’t produced the number of goals that Rafa nor he had hoped for but you can hardly say he’s been given the chance. It’s clear Rafa has his favourites and he isn’t one of them.
Keane is the kind of striker who needs a manager to put his arm around him and Rafa isn’t that kind of manager. It’s a match made in hell. Michael Owen, Jermain Defoe and Craig Bellamy are similar in that respect and if you want to get the best out of someone then man-management is an area that Benitez has plenty of room for improvement.
Instead, he prefers to keep players on the edge of their seat. Last season he played Gerrard out of position and now, when he needs to win a game to keep pace with Manchester United, he takes off Gerrard and Torres a few minutes before the end, to conserve energy for Sunday’s clash against Chelsea, with the game 1-1.
Rafa became a hero when the team fought back from the dead in the Champions League final against AC Milan but now, unless Liverpool beats Chelsea, Manchester United, away, and Arsenal, it appears that Reds fans will have to keep on dreaming of title success for another season.
Like all Liverpool fans, if someone had told me that Liverpool would be two points off top spot at the end of January I wouldn’t have believed them. But we’ve had it so good since August and the frustration is there for all to see.