Thursday, October 04, 2007


Sometimes a moment suddenly arrives which seemingly turns all past ideas on their head. Liverpool's 1-0 defeat to Marseille last night at Anfield was such a moment.

Before last night, the feel good factor was still there. There had been a few bad moments with 0-0 draws against Portsmouth and Birmingham, but nothing was considered to be fundamentally wrong. Torres was still firing on all cylinders and Rafa's technical astuteness had been proven by his second half substitution of Benayoun who had scored the winning goal against Wigan. Last night, however, the wheels finally came off. The growing frustration felt by supporters of the club at Rafa's sometimes inexplicable rotation policies became volubly expressed for the first time. Some supporters were muttering the unthinkable by the end of the game: "If Rafa doesn't know his best team by this time then he should go." How did such an unlikely state of affairs come about?

First of all, it's clear that Rafa badly underestimated Marseilles and put out a clearly under strength team. Marseilles HAD been going through a rough patch, languishing just outside the relegation zone in the French League and coming into the game at Anfield with a brand new manager. Furthermore, two of their best players--Zenden and Cisse--were Liverpool cast offs. Rafa could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that a team with some newcomers would be well capable of taking the 3 points. However, everything went pear shaped very quickly. Sebastian Leto was clearly out of his depth and this, in combination with Benayoun starting the game, gave a very lightweight look to the Liverpool midfield. Sissoko had a stinker and Gerard was under par (perhaps his car accident earlier in the week affecting his form). The overall affect was that Marseille was allowed to control the game and thoroughly deserved their narrow win.

Will the love affair between Rafa and the supporters ever be the same again? Probably not. After last night it's suddenly OK to criticize Rafa in a way that's never been seen before. Gerard Houllier reached a similar point several years ago before gradually sliding away into oblivion. Rafa will either follow the same path or prove once and for all that his rotation policies do work in English conditions. Even if he finally succeeds in winning the PL, after last night there will always be supporters around who are ready to remind him of how he once lost the plot entirely: it was, after all, an abysmal performance by both Rafa and his team.


Anonymous robbiefowler said...

So true!

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Boonthongkaofxdt said...

So true!

6:15 PM  

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