I’m an ardent follower of Football, especially European football. Some club teams that I particularly like are Liverpool, Newcastle United (both from England) and AC Milan. But sadly this year all three teams haven’t been doing well. Liverpool, for that matter, lead the premiership for a good period and looked all set to claim the title only to see them fading post Christmas. It all followed after Rafa Benitez’s heady outburst in a press conference. He launched a scathing attack on Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson telling him why should he concentrate on his own club. Sir Alex was, however, riding high on the club world club success of Man U and did the wise thing of letting his players talk on the field. As a result, ManU has opened up a 4 point lead at the top. With 2 games in hand, it might eventually go up to 10! All Liverpool can do now is to continue winning matches and pray that Man U plays badly, which looks very unlikely.
Let me spend some time in analyzing what went wrong with Liverpool. I always believe that when a football team is playing badly, the chink in the armour is in their defense. Renowned for their defense, Liverpool have been very shaky this year. Jamie Carraghar is waging the lone battle in the defense. Both Sami Hyppia and Martin Skrtel have been battling injuries and have been in and out of the team. Fabio Aurelio, Daniel Agger and Alvaro Arbeloa have all been all but on the money. Even the departure of Steve Finnan has hurt them badly. Frankly speaking, Liverpool doesn’t look like a side that showed so much promise when they started their flight in the premier league this season.
Looking at the midfield, the biggest upset for them was Steven Gerrard’s injury at a time when his presence mattered the most. With the influential Argentine Javier Mascherano becoming out of sorts, it all fell on the shoulders of Spaniard Xabi Alonso to take the midfield mantle. The new finds Albert Riera, Sebastian Leto and Leiva Lucas have been far less influential than what you would expect from players of international quality. There is a lotus in the whole muddle though and his name is Yossi Benayoun. This Israel international winger, not the tallest amongst the lot, is known for his fierce attacking moves and looks like he is the only one who can lend the much needed boost to the team along with Gerrard and Alonso. The best part is, he can double up as a striker too.
Every one knows about ‘now in now out’ Robbie Keane fiasco. He probably was one of the best strike partners Fernando Torres could have asked for. However, he was never settled and struggled to score goals in few of the matches he started. Though I’m not a fan of Dirk Kuyt, he is the man who has time and again rescued Liverpool from blushes with late goals, chip ins and buildups. But apart from these two, Liverpool lacks depth in the strike force. Cristian Nemeth, Ryan Babel, Nabil el Zhar and David Ngog have all played handful of games and scored a few too. But most of the time they haven’t been able to create the magic and threat that the likes of Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez have been able to do for Man U.
Hmmm, so what is in store for a Liverpool fan like me? Well I think Liverpool should forget about any silverware this season. They had nothing in the Carling Cup. They were knocked out by arch rivals Everton in the FA cup and they are behind in the Premier League too. Only hope is Champions League. They have done better (again thanks to Benayoun) by beating Real Madrid 0-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the round of 32. But there is a mountain to climb. I just hope Stevie G’s magic casts a spell. I really hope it does.
Good Luck to you Reds… from a reds fan!