Liverpool v MU

Pathetic is the only word I can come up with to describe the team's performance yesterday. Well, embarrassing is another word. This is just not acceptable.

A loss at Old Trafford is one thing; a loss with a performance that was less than 100% commitment (or so it seemed at times) is quite another. I have no doubt that playing for Liverpool is an honour, as it it to play for MU, or Real Madrid or Boca Juniors and clubs of that ilk. Yet the (seemingly) less than 100% effort requires all eyes to be gazed to the man described by Bolton fans as 'a fat Spanish waiter.'

To be fair, it is not his fault that both Alonso and Gerrard are off colour at the moment, just as it is not his fault that Gerrard was not 100% fit yesterday. Any team will suffer when their 2 most influential players are not going great guns, even Chelsea. It is however, all his fault and no one else that the team are travelling as poorly as they are at the moment.

In his first season, when we finished 5th, 37 points behind Chelsea, the many pathetic away performances could be laid at the door of Houllier purchased players that he did not fancy. Last season the pathetic performances diminished greatly to the extent we only finished a point behind MU (though the 9 point gap with Chelsea flatters us given they slowed down once they wrapped up the league). Now with his own stable of players the pathetic performances are back. He says this is one of the most disspointing days of his time at Liverpool, but it is mainly his own doing.

In 2 seasons out of three he has been in charge we have performed very poorly away from home - that's his responsibility. I have previously criticised his rotation policy (especially of key players) and he has to his credit stopped resting Alonso and Gerrard though the latter still finds himself playing in his less preferred positions. But has the horse already bolted?

Playing with 1 striker who is not a target man (to hold up the ball for willing runners like Gerrard, Gonzalez and Garcia) is tantamount to sabotage IMO. Surely Crouch is the best suited player for that role, not Kuyt who needs to calm down and learn to settle into games. I assume Gonzalez picked up a knock, otherwise I question the decision to take him off for Pennant when he looked the most likely source to worry MU despite shooting like an American Marine in Fallujah.

It would be foolish to call for Benitez's head. Obviously the man is a very good coach and his record speaks for itself. These great coaches are both stubborn and confident, and he certainly is, but his recent vociferous defense of his rotation policy's success at Valencia smells to me as an act of a desperate man. Perhaps he needs to consider that it does not work as well for him in England. I certainly don't pretend to know if a more settled lineup will work better but surely it is worth a try? In his 2 previous seasons Liverpool have finished strongly and won 2 cup competitions so the policy tends to keep players fresh at the tail-end of seasons, but each time, as far as the league is concerned, we start from too far back to challenge for the title. Even red-nose acknowledges as much and now understands the need for MU to keep up the pace early in the season as even he has seen their usual post-Xmas points rush come up short against Chelsea's consistency.

We want to win the league Rafa!!! The CL is great, the FA Cup is nice, even the League Cup is a positive chance at glory but it's the bread and butter that counts for the average fan, be they in Liverpool or Timbuktu. Right now, you have a mighty job on your hands, and I'm not convinced you know what you're doing just at this juncture of the season. I don't think a points rush from March to May will get us back to the top 3. I hope there's no outsider pushing hard or even 4th spot might well be a long hard slog this time around.

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