Last-gasp Liverpool rescue a point

UEFA Champions League

Liverpool 1 Atlético Madrid 1

Liverpool and Atlético went into this match in the knowledge that victory would see them into the knock-out phase of the competition. Their meeting in Madrid had ended 1-1 and the two sides were separated only by goal difference at the top of the table. A draw would mean more work was needed, and resting players for at least one of the last two games wouldn’t be an option. A win for Rafa would allow him to try out some of the younger players who made the squad through their “home-grown” status – in theory at least.

From the start it was obvious Liverpool were hungry and desperate to banish that last-gasp defeat at White Hart Lane to the past. Within a couple of minutes of the start we saw a real chance for Liverpool, Agger screaming for a penalty as his marker took the ball off his foot as he was ready to strike from inside the box. Keane, who has been playing with niggles for a few weeks, hopped away from the incident looking to be in some pain.

With Torres still in the stands, still not recovered from the hamstring injury sustained on duty for Spain, Rafa Benítez waited to see if the Irishman could carry on despite the knock. He did, although his withdrawal twenty minutes from the end may have been because of the knock rather than just for tactical reasons.

Looking at Atlético’s formation before the game it suggested a defensive approach would be in force from the Spanish side, but after ten minutes of the game it was clear they were looking to score a goal of their own. They didn’t get a shot at goal, but were looking dangerous nonetheless.

In the twelfth minute Agger did get a decision from the referee, a free-kick outside the box. The Atlético goalkeeper looked worried as he batted the ball away from his goal. Liverpool needed to keep the pressure on and avoid giving Atlético – particularly former target Simao – any time on the ball.

Celebrations from the home fans began, for a split second, on 14 minutes when Keane chested down a brilliant Alonso pass, turned and shot powerfully at goal. It was wide, but only just, and with the net rippling some parts of the ground celebrated the “goal” momentarily. Keane turned away disappointed at his narrow miss, and again looked to be in pain.

Atlético continued to threaten, winning a corner on 18 minutes, but Liverpool turned defence into attack, a counter attack only breaking down with an unpunished Atlético handball. Liverpool appealed strongly, but the referee waved play on. Atlético did play on, catching Liverpool off guard, and Simao wasted a golden chance to put his side in front and blacken Rick Parry’s name a little more. Liverpool had tried to sign the player early on in the Rafa Benítez era, Rick Parry coming back empty handed from his talks – Simao scored Atlético’s equaliser in Madrid last month.

A hopeful ball into the box from Fabio Aurelio resulted in a Liverpool corner, which in turn resulted in Mascherano trying to curl one into the net from some distance. Atlético were restricting Liverpool to long shots, Liverpool seemed to be getting frustrated.

Just after the half-hour mark Robbie Keane was through on goal, but good goalkeeping and perhaps some of the effects of his confidence being hit by a lack of goals saw the number seven take one touch too many and the chance was lost.

Liverpool were controlling the game, as Rafa always likes them to do, but without a goal it only takes one good break to see that control count for nothing. And in the 38th minute Atlético got that break. Liverpool were caught out, full-back Lopez showing great skill both in collecting the ball and then in finding Maxi from the right wing. Liverpool 0 Atlético 1.

The Liverpool fans were silenced, Atlético’s travelling support making all the noise. In fact Atlético’s fans showed that the elements of their support who left their club facing a UEFA charge were not representative of their most dedicated followers.

Liverpool have learned how to come back from behind this season, often after starting poorly, but with the Spurs defeat still fresh in the minds of the players the belief didn’t seem to be there this time. Liverpool needed half-time and a good Rafa Benítez team-talk.

Ten minutes into the second half a cross from Aurelio was headed narrowly over the bar by Agger. Liverpool were threatening, were getting close, but those chances had to be taken before a fast Atlético side made profit from another counter-attack.

Forlan was appealing for a penalty from one of those counter-attacks on the hour mark, and then it was time for Rafa to introduce his “impact” player, Ryan Babel. Spanish winger Riera made way.

Liverpool still seemed unable to break Atlético down. Steven Gerrard, admittedly under some pressure, half-volleyed over the bar from outside the area a couple of minutes after Babel’s arrival, Liverpool letting desperation take over. A minute later and again it was Agger with a good chance – and only good goalkeeping stopped him scoring. Agger was stretching to hit the ball, but it still needed work from the keeper to prevent Liverpool equalising.

Soon after it was Gerrard once again trying the long shots, on 64 minutes, his shot blocked this time without it even making it into the penalty-area. A minute later and the captain shot from distance again – this time firing wide. Five minutes later he got a taste of what might be if got into the box. Shooting from close range he came close to equalising, but leaning back slightly, stretching for the ball, it went over the bar and into the Kop.

Rafa then decided it was time to give Keane another early exit, as has become a regular occurrence this season. The Irish captain looked dejected as he made way for Ngog with still twenty minutes to go, but Rafa will say he needed to give the player a rest with Torres still out. Atlético’s Aguero came on for Forlan at the same time.

As well as getting a lot of chances, Agger got an injury – but with Lucas now on the field in place of Mascherano, Liverpool had no more subs. It’s unlikely Rafa would have replaced him anyway, and what seemed to be a dislocated finger was treated quickly, Agger sent wincing back into action. The next chance of note came from Agger’s partner in central defence, a rare Jamie Carragher shot forcing another decent save from Franco.

It was looking a lost cause, looking like the Spanish side were heading for the knockout phase, with Liverpool’s good start to the competition forgotten, their progress dependent on the next two games.

As the 90 minutes came to an end, a familiar face was standing on the touch line waiting to make his first appearance at Anfield in a year-and-a-half. Luis Garcia will always be remembered by Liverpool fans above all else for his goal against Chelsea in 2005’s semi-final. It was a goal that saw Liverpool make it to Istanbul, bringing home number five. A goal that had added sweetness for Liverpool fans, because of how much it upset Jose Mourinho, how much it made up for that “shushing” gesture a few months earlier in the Carling Cup. When he left the club in summer 2007 a lot of fans were saddened, but his departure helped bring Fernando Torres to the club, his transfer part of the deal. It softened the blow, and he looked pretty happy in his Atlético kit, all set to suck his thumb in celebration of goals in Madrid. He returned to Anfield – but only briefly. The whole ground applauded him onto the field; by now most Liverpool fans were resigned to defeat, but Luis deserved a welcome.

Garcia’s appearance seemed to be to ensure he got his good welcome, but more likely was to waste a bit of time and help Atlético see the tie out. The fourth official soon indicated that there would be four minutes of added time, and the crowd urged Liverpool on to try and salvage something.

Liverpool had played fairly well on the night. Gerrard’s long shots seemed wasteful, his desperation to score clouding his ability to look for better options. Perhaps that’s what Rafa meant by “passion” when he spoke about his substitution of the captain in last season’s Goodison derby. He’d worked hard and tried to create chances for others as well as himself. But the fact that the more memorable chances had fallen to the centre-backs said a lot about the game. Liverpool had worked hard, tried hard, but were set to lose because of a lapse in concentration, losing to Atlético’s only shot on target. That’s not to take anything away from what was a very good goal from the Spanish side.

Then Liverpool’s luck came back.

A penalty award that was kind to say the least meant Liverpool had a chance, in injury time, to rescue the game. Rafa suggested after the match that this award made up for the ones that got away in the first half, but Atlético’s players weren’t thinking of that as their dreams of leaving victorious seemed shattered.

Mariano Pernia was adjudged to have fouled Gerrard, and there certainly was contact. But the contact came from the fact two players were throwing themselves at the same ball. When the contact came, Gerrard made sure he went down, made sure the officials could see it. The linesman flagged, and the referee pondered for what seemed an age. But he decided to trust his linesman’s judgement, and pointed to the spot.

Gerrard wasn’t going to complain. Pernia was though, clearly feeling the decision was harsh, and he was booked. This was seemingly for dissent after he and his team-mates had surrounded the referee. The protests went on for a couple of minutes, all the while Gerrard waiting to take the kick he’d just earned his side.

For some players the protests and the way injury time was ticking away would be enough to eat away at their confidence. Not for Gerrard, not this season. He seems to have matured enormously this term, and he was completely focussed on the task in hand.

All of those shots from long range were forgotten as he lined up to shoot from 12 yards. It would have been hard to have hit a more perfect penalty. The goalkeeper went the wrong way, but Gerrard’s shot was high into the right-hand-side of the goal. Liverpool had equalised.

What happened next is something Atlético’s players might wish to forget, three more players getting booked as their protests carried on when they should have been taking the kick-off. Atlético ended the game with five booked in all, only one of whom had been booked at the end of the 90 minutes.

When the whistle went, Gerrard started to celebrate, clearly feeling relief that a point had been salvaged. He held back a little though, perhaps remembering that had his side taken some of their chances there’d have been no need for that last minute penalty.

Gerrard said afterwards:  “It was a big result for us tonight and a big point. Good teams usually don’t lose two games in a row and so it was important we got something. The first half wasn’t good enough and we know that. We upped it in the second half, played at a higher tempo and pressed harder.”

Progress remains in Liverpool’s hands, one win out of the next two games would assure they went through, and even a draw might be enough. Gerrard said: “We’re still in a strong position in the group now. We showed a lot of character tonight and we have to take that into the next league game.”

As for the penalty, Gerrard insisted Martin Hansson’s decision was correct: “In my mind it was a penalty. I got there first and he came into the back of me. If it had happened anywhere else on the pitch it would be a free kick, so it was a penalty. I can understand their disappointment because of the timing of it. If it had happened at the other end, we would have been livid.”

Boss Rafa Benítez agreed: “Had that offence against Steven taken place in the middle of the pitch it would have been a free-kick, so it was a penalty.”

Was Rafa pleased with a draw or disappointed not to win? “The key for us was not to lose in such a tight match,” he said. “We are still right up at the top with them (Atlético), we can both qualify.”

His opposite number Javier Aguirre graciously stayed away from condemning the referee for the decision: “I was a long way from the incident so I could not see properly. But how things change in one minute of football.

“We were in the last 16 and Marseille had beaten PSV, and then we concede a penalty and it is snatched away, but we just have to keep on fighting. I was still very happy with the team effort and the way we worked as a group, maybe we did not get the win we deserved. We have produced an outstanding team performance against a very good team and we are still very close to qualification.”


25 Reina
17 Arbeloa
23 Carragher
5 Agger
12 Aurelio
20 Mascherano (Lucas, 77)
14 Alonso
18 Kuyt
8 Gerrard GOAL: 90+5 (pen)
11 Riera (Babel, 61)
7 Keane (Ngog, 71)
1 Cavalieri
2 Dossena
15 Benayoun
19 Babel (Riera, 61)
21 Lucas (Mascherano, 77)
24 Ngog (Keane, 71)
27 Degen

Atlético Madrid:
25 Franco
3 Antonio Lopez
21 Perea Booked: 90+5
5 Heitinga Booked: 90+6
4 Pernia Booked: 90+4
8 Raul Garcia
12 Paulo Assuncao
18 Maniche Booked: 67
11 Maxi GOAL: 37
7 Forlan (Aguero, 71)
20 Simao (Luis Garcia, 90)
1 Coupet
9 Luis Garcia (Simao, 90)
10 Aguero (Forlan, 71) Booked: 90+6
14 Sinama Pongolle
16 Banega
22 Pablo
24 Camacho

STATS: (Liverpool – Atlético)
Possession: 59% – 41%
Shots on target: 5 – 1
Shots off target: 9 – 4
Corners: 11 – 2
Fouls: 7 – 14

Referee: Martin Hansson.
Attendance: 42,010.

60 thoughts on “Last-gasp Liverpool rescue a point”

  1. If skill and goal-chances were the only barometers for judging/allocating success we’d have won – hands-down – yesterday and against Tottenham.

    But as we know luck – whatever that is?! – plays a huge part.

    Luck, an absence of it, meant we were defeated against Spurs, but against Boro, Sunderland and Man City were perhaps got our fair share.

    As for performances, Alonso is playing like his weight in gold. Stevie G only got into the game in the second half. While Jamie and Agger played ok. Otherwise, I’m not sure anyon played particularly well. One of my favourites, Monster looked absolutely shattered again.

    Let’s hope lady luck stays with us – and Torres stays fit through-out the rest of the season – so that we can challenge for EPL champions come the New Year!

  2. Home to WBA, second from bottom. I’d say a win was essential and it might be a good opportunity to do something about our goal difference.

    Getting into the habit of going top is the priority though.

  3. Whilst it was expected that LFC would win against WBA, it was an excellent team performance and very nice to see the 2 fullbacks have such a good game, one with a beautiful pass for Keane to score his 2nd and to the other to score a very good goal at the end.
    I am glad to be able to state Keane’s movement was excellent, something I have been looking for since he arrived and he took his 2 goals very well, long may this standard continue as Torres needs striker support. This is the time of the year that LFC go off the boil, let us hope that the oposite happens from here on as we begin the tough time of the season.

  4. I have been reading a lot about how the financial crunch could affect LFC, even to the point of having to sell their top players. I am quite sure other fans feel as I do that our American Tycoons behave more like American Ferile Racoons, their savage disregard for the club is most remarkable, they display no ethics whatsoever.
    They have had an offer on the table for most of the year and it would appear that they are not willing to sell because it will only give them 75Mil each profit instead of the 100Mil each profit they want. No wonder it was the Americans who coined the phrase “Greed is good” quite obviously they have never heard the English phrase “Do the right thing”. They don’t have the money lead LFC forward WHY STAND IN THE WAY..

  5. Nowhere else to put this comment as yet but im so mad at tonights performance(spurs in cup).

    Dossena and lucas are probably the worst signings and biggest waste of money i have ever ever seen. That fat git is appualing. 8 million pounds, RAFA your havinf a fookin laugh.

    Managers credentials….enough said.

  6. liverpool (and Chelsea) out of the LC… what?!!!!

    LFC Manager makes 10 changes, team loses to an in-form premiership side.

    Chelsea make similar amount (of changes), they lose to a Championship side.

    Does that make them both bad/appaling sides/squads.

    According to Cantos, Rafa should leap off the first bridge.

    Meanwhile Chelsea see the League Cup as an irritation (while Rafa sees it as purely a competition for the squad players and returnees.)

    Liverpool are 2nd in the league on goal difference, Chelsea first.

    I think some critics should wait a while before casting dispersions on Rafa.

    On Dossena, he’s been far from a success but he’s international class for one of the elite nations in world football. He’s clearly not settled yet, and the same for Degen. But he’s only played a handful of pemiership games. Maybe he needs a few Italians around him. But regardless is far too early to say he’s ‘useless’. Evra, i recall, had similar things said about him when he first came over.

  7. Midlands red. Youmake some good points but all your doing is making excuses.

    Dont tell me that the team last night did anything to justify the support of those fans who made the journey down south. The fans did their part and made the effort, the team did not, they simply could not be bothered, their attitude stinks. I thought that a reserve or second choice player would view this game as a chance to shine and express themselves. Doesnt work like that at our club for some reason.

    Dress it up however you want but we all saw the game and we were a disgrace. The attitude of the players was all wrong.

    Dossena is a desperate signing, hes overwieght and looks so out of place. Lucas who can be considered a first teamer is another player who Rafa seems to love, but what does he give us, the odd littl short lay off ball…..thats it, he too is a championship standard player.

    70% of the players signed by Rafa in his time at Anfield have not come close to be good enough. The team last night should be ashamed of the performance and if they cant be bothered to even try then do us real fans a favour and keep that red shirt of your back.

  8. Cantos, I hear ya but have to say i’d rather the lads get a kicking in last night’s game (than lose in the premiership), get a rollicking from the Boss, press and particularly the fans, and get to know what is allowed and not allowed while playing for our club. The experience will sort the men from the boys.

    Last year our ‘reserves’ impressed many. This year they can barely get a win. For that, you could – not that I’d agree – look at Ablett rather than Rafa.

    Dossena is clearly not having the best of times. But, based on his International form, I’m hopeful he’ll adapt.

    Lucas, for my money, also hasn’t adapted but he has shown some quality along the way. Plus how many players get to play for Brazil when they are not very good? I believe he is quality – as I’ve seen him play a few times for the national side – and when he eventually gets a regular slot in his natural position he’ll be worth the investment.

    Where I’m concerned is:

    what goalscoring replacement do we have for Torres when injured? Ngog ain’t ready. Robbie K’s good but prefers another position (though didn’t you love his finishes against W. Brom?!) and Kuyt is a revelation (admittedly for some, not other supporters) on the right.

    And more immediately, with Arbeloa about to serve a match suspension, who’s going to fill-in? Degen’s not ready and Darby’s not had much of a run out. I suspect Rafa has a plan……maybe with Carragher on the right. I await this weekend’s fixture with interest!

  9. Ok Dossena is not playing well, give him time, he was class with Udinese, anyway this guy plays for the world champions guys, and to be chosen as the national left back for Italy were the competition for the position he plays in is very tough. He should not be that bad, just remember that the Gerrads, Lamps, Beckhams and Terrys which most all English supporters boast about as being the best in the world did not even make it in Europe so give Dossena time. the guy comes from a totally diff culture I lived in both countries and the difference in the way both countries view the game is miles away, he needs to learn the language first then try speak it. So to say

    Well I can’t say the same for degen, he worries me but at least he was free.

  10. F*ck we’re a big club, the Carling Cup is whatever. I think it’s far far more important that we beat Bolton away.

    Granted it’s disappointing to lose and if there is something that I’d be tempted to fault Rafa on (besides his contempt for the Carling cup!) it’s the extension of his philosophy “that top players should be able to gel in any team” to novices and players lacking in confidence.

    Bottom line is, if we’d been winning games against rubbish opposition in the first half this season and having the game sewn up around 60 minutes. Then we could have been substituting key players and slowly blooding the fringe players. It’s simple do the rotating in the last 30 minutes against crap opposition at home.

  11. Hmmmm, interesting how a weekends set of result can make the weekday hoopla seem so, well, like last years chip paper.

    Arsenal’s young guns run amok in the week winning well against Wigan and are hailed as the blueprint to follow.

    We get stuffed by Spurs are are trashed by opposition and our own fans alike.

    Now, look at the weekend results:

    Liverpool win
    Arsenal lose
    Spurs lose (at the time of typing)

    It begs the question, are fans happier losing in the Carling Cup and winning in the league or vice versa. I know which I prefer.

    The seasons got many more twists and turns to come but I think criticising the team and Rafa when they are doing so well is beyond me.

  12. Agree with midlands-red, three points today is much more important than the spurs game. Maybe Wenger, should play the kids in the prem! Next up is Fulham, at Anfield and another three points will do just fine! We are the team asking the questions and turning the screw, it feels good!

  13. Has this site died or something???

    I think Saturday was the worst LFC display I have seen for a very long time. All credit to Fulham for the way they stopped LFC but, then there was not much to stop.
    Torress tried the most to deliver something and many times on his own, as though he knew he was getting no support. I think Lucas Dad must be the President for him to be player for Brazil, whilst Keane did his flying chicken act again, when will he deliver?? only once so far. I have the highest regard for the Manager but, thought he brought the substitues on far too late to be any kind of effective element, it needed to be at half time ont this particular occassion. It is worrying to see how the team performs when just 2 very special playersare missing. Fortunately the other 2 also drew and so for now, no harm done but, what a wasted opportunity!

  14. What is happening with this site?! Good question.

    Jim, you told us some time ago that a problem with your broadband was reason why you were unable to be as active as before.

    I’m beginning to wonder whether your funding for this site has been withdrawn and with it your commitment to it. What’s happening? We’d all like to know.

    PS Not the best result on Saturday but not the end of the world. Just hope these results are part of our customary blib in the season and that we can kick on in and around (and after) the Christmas programme, as per usual.

    PPS Lucas ain’t a bad player. Yes, he’s not delivering for us at the moment but jumping on his back – in games, not so much on here – ain’t gonna help the team win. Reading some people’s comments, you wonder they think Rafa’s a footballing dunce. Not directed at you Ken but those that think Rafa’s got some sort of blind-spot!

  15. I too am puzzled by the lack of news from JIm. I’m even more puzzled because according to the stats on the AnfieldRoad Forum he is one of the most active visitors as this link shows.

    So what’s going on Jim? Why do you visit your forum but fail to post so few messages?


  16. Midlands red you make me chuckle with your die hard comments.

    Not a disaster!!! we should now, if we had taken all our thrity or so chances against both Fulham and Stoke be 5 points clear of Chelsea, but we are not. We will see how much of a disaster that becomes at the end of the season…..

    And as for Lucas, please you cannot be serious. He is awful and offers the team nothing at all. I sat through saturdays game watching him with horror. When Rafa did make a change we all thought his time had come but no he took the chief off who was having a great game and left the laughable Lucas on the pitch. Believe me i wasnt the only one booing that decision.

    Lucas should not be wearing our shirt, full stop. Stick him in the reserves or the championship where he would still struggle to have a decent game.

    I know your gonna come back with the old ‘get off his back..he needs time to adjust….support the team bollocks, but i go and support, i travel and spend hard earned money to give the team my full support and he does not deliver at all. His attitude stinks, he doesnt chase, cant tackle and thinks hes untouchable.

    Say what you want , hes garbage. And dont get me started on Dossena. Rafa is having a laugh with those two.

  17. @ Cantos

    Just got back from the……………Arsenal game and looking forward to our game tomorrow. It’s good to travel!

    Denilson didn’t have a great game today and from what i understand he’s not had a great season. Yet he’s captained every Brazilian age group apart from its first team.

    Lucas is of similar stature and will improve, though he’s clearly some way off at the moment.

    I might question Rafa’s judgement but Rafa and Wengers is unlikely. I’m hopeful that he’ll improve and, if he doesn’t he’ll be on his way like Momo at a profit.

    But to be honest, our carping is ok BUT the real issue for this site right now is Jim – where is he? why has he stopped posting? And when will normal service resume?

    Come on Jim, let us in on your worries/thoughts!!!

  18. I’m glad I’m not the only one to wonder what’s happened to this site, disillusionment ? lack of funding ? perhaps we’ll never know !

    But here’s something to cheer us all up:-

    Its debateable if Liverpool have ever made a better signing either as a player or a man. What a great bloke !
    Its a pity our illustrious owners don’t have the same depth of feeling for the club.

  19. It’s a good question about the site, I’m beginning to wonder myself.

    Anyway IMHO, the Elephant in the room at the moment is KEANE NOT SCORING GOALS.

    The usual arguments about settling in etc. hardly apply to a 28 year-old journeyman premiership player. In the absence of Torres for the next few games, he needs to start banging them in ‘cos it’s crucial to maintain our early momentum in the league.

  20. iskoppa,

    That would make sense. Jim seems to have given up completely and not even a goodbye! 🙁

  21. @Jim

    We’re top after a very poor game/performance.

    Gillett was unexpectedly in town and, according to credible (?) reports, is struggling to repay his share of the debt.

    Rafa still doesn’t have a new contract and Real Madrid are desperate for a top class coach.

    Stevie G’s just completed 10 years at the club.

    Babel, Keane, Benayoun are/are not the creative force we need.

    Owen/Heskey to return?

    Babel/Mascherano look buggered after the Olympics?

    …….@ Jim

    there are so many issues to be writing about.

    What’s happening??????????????????

    YNWA – except Jim’s taken leave of absence, it appears!

  22. I read the Manager’s statement that he will not be going for Owen. Frankly I do not understand this.
    Keane has only looked the part of an intelligent strike partner for Torres on one occassion. Babel is unhappy and looks the part when playing, he was more effective last year than on Monday night.
    With Torres incurring the same troubles as before, and if he has this weakness, it will surely crop up again and again. surely a further striker is called for and at a supposed 2 Million he could be the buy of the year. I would put Owen ahead of Heskey.

  23. @LFC Malta

    Dossena did ok going forward. Has an immense/wicked left-footed cross on him.

    Still needs improving at the back, though he wasn’t overly tested last night.

    Overall, not bad.

    I have to say I feel a little gloomy after the team’s performance but we are top regardless of whether United win their game in hand.

    I can understand our frustration at the final whistle but to be at the top when playing badly is what we’ve been calling for. We’d be way of the pace usually. Remember it was only two weeks ago, when we drew against Fulham and Chelsea against Newcastle, when United needed a win but could only manage a draw against Aston Villa. All the top 4 teams aren’t performing consistently well at the moment!

    Now we just have to hope/expect to be near the top come the busy Christmas period and kick-on again – when Torres, Skrtl, a fit Mascherano add to the team. (Although Chelsea and Arsenal will have players back by then too.)

  24. @ LFC Malta
    Dossena played a bit of footie, nice to see it finally!
    I know were top of the league, but after that performance, I’m still p*ssed off!

  25. Dossena played his best game yet. Hes still slow and struggles to get back into position when needed.

    Hes not good enough, nor are Lucas, Ngog or Keane.

    Our replacement /fringe players are not up to scratch, simply not good enough and that is why we will still be seeking the title after this year. Rafa’s tactics against West Ham were hopeless, he never has a plan B. Tactical genius….i dont think so. Think back to Istanbul. He started with Kewell and we were hopeless until he was forced to replace him with Hamann(eventual man of the match) who totally changed the game.

    Rafa has done well but i think hes gone as far as he can. 75% of his signings are weak, his tactics are poor and hes to stubborn for his own good, just as Paco.

    Common sense Rafa, you should know your best team after 5 years and take it from me it doesnt contain Yossi or Lucas. Get a grip or go.

  26. 13/12/08….The day we lost the title.

    Awful tactics by the manager again, one up front at home, like for like straight substitutions and no plan B.

    Why isnt Keane playing, talk about feeding him negative vibes.

    For gods sake Benitez do us all a favour and f@£k off.

  27. @cantos

    glad to see you re-appear – when Rafa’s taken us to the top of the champions league group stages and we’re still top of the league (until this afternoon maybe) when we’re not playing at our best – by calling for his head. Makes sense to me?!

    All of the top managers are being criticised at the minute.

    Wenger, useless

    Scolari – no plan B

    Now, Rafa – no plan B, according to you

    Fergie next, maybe?!

    I’d wait until we get the christmas periods out the way and see where we are……and then apply for the job if Rafa’s not keeping us in contention.

    By the way,you may have noticed that Utd, Arsenal as well as ourselves drew yesterday. Can’t wait to hear who you think should replace Rafa to make us a more competitive team?????

    Ps I like hearing from you Cantos. So keep it coming!!

  28. @ cantos

    with rafa’s team being top of league – with chelsea, man. utd and arsenal drawing – do you have anthing positive to say to him?

    ps it’s going to be a very very very long season. we’ll lose the odd one or two, draw the same and win plenty more. if supporters can’t hold there nerve and support their team throughout all of this, what confidence do you hope to give the players and the manager??!

  29. Lets get one thing straight. I am not jumping on any bandwagon. I am not a big Benitez fan and never have been. I support the team and the manager every week without fail, i have held a season ticket for 14 years and been a regular kopite since i was 5 years old. I travel with the club to about half of the away fixtures every season without fail.

    I have a right to voice my opinion and obviously the truth hurts.

    Benitez is too negative, the majority of his signings have been awful, he has spent alot of money on players that not only dont deliver, they should not be wearing my beloved shirt. Hes stubborn and wont admit his mistakes, his tactics are laughable at times( i will admit that he has at times been a master of tactics against the big clubs when he is under pressure with missing players through injury or suspension) but when he is at home to lesser clubs his arrogance shows and he has this season come unstuck.

    The thing that makes me laugh about all this is people who continue with the ‘ but we are top of the league and top of our group.’ Please, yes we are top of the league but look at the points weve dropped at home. We should be walking away with it. 9 points clear by my calculations.

    Why arent we???? Because the manager is negative at home, wont risk anything and continues to back players who are frankly shit. I again refer to Dossena who had the piss taken out of him on Saturday, (saw it with my own eyes) and the hair flicking sideways passing Lucas. Not to mention the others, and why oh why is Keane not on the field????

    He wont score if he aint playing Rafa.

    So keep living the dream at the top because come May, if we lose the league by a point all the fingers will be pointing at these last home games when we could have easily sown it up.

    We have been lucky with results this weekend and got out of jail free. The missing points are why i dont like our manger..,i will support him with full voice whilst im at Anfield and will credit him when he does sign a decent player or make a great decision, but we play the same old game every week in week out, it aint working the results show that. Do something different, be adventurous….maybe play 2 up front at home. Let Keane be a striker when he plays. Why 2 holding players when 1 will do fine…so many things.

    Its frustrating to think how far in front we could be…………

  30. Let’s play multiple-choice for the following situation: You are the manager of a team that is top of the table but, with five minutes and one substitution remaining, your team is being held to a draw at home in what you have acknowledged is the “kind of game you have to win”. So, do you…

    a) Replace one holding midfielder with another who has yet to score a first-team league goal?


    b) Introduce the striker you bought for £20m in the summer rather than make him sit on the bench for the entire 90 minutes even though your other ‘star’ striker is unfit and unavailable?

    Say no more about our talented manager…point made!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Questions for Cantos:

    Name me an EPL team that has not dropped points at home?

    Name a team that has more points than the team you support?

    How many times has LFC had a £20m player on the bench for any duration of a game?

    How many times has one its rivals had a £20m player on the bench for any duration of a game?

    How many times has LFC had a £20m player on the pitch who has not scored or provided an assist?

    How many times has LFC’s rivals had a £20m player on the pitch who has not scored or had an assist?

    I could go on with the questions but answers to yours, Cantos, or mine actually don’t prove a point; they just offer room for further discussion.

    What is irrefutable is that WE are top. Yes we could have picked up every point under the sun – and with hindsight – WE/RAFA could have made perfect decisions but life’s not like that.

    We’re in for a long season. Keane will get his chance, in his self-pronounced best position off the front man, hopefully with a fully fit Torres when they can both show they’re value for money.

    In the meantime, fortunately Rafa’s not reading what you or I say but at the very least he’s getting on with his job; keeping us challenging for the title – which is what many fans hoped for at the start of the season……

    Meanwhile Scolari takes stick for not winning many games/dropping points at home and Fergie is lambasted for spending £30m on Berbatov and being unable to score against Tottenham’s 3rd string central defensive partnership and a midfield man playing at right back. We’ve got it really bad at the moment, right!!?!

    PS Cantos – I like hearing your views. I just don’t share them. And the feeling’s mutual, I’m sure. But it’s always good to talk, though I hope you’re in the minority. I’m sure you are!

  32. Keane’s not playing ‘cos he’s not scoring. Simple as that!

    My worry is that this team doesn’t have self-belief to be champions. They’ve missed 3 opportunities on the bounce to make a statement and they’ve blinked each time.

    I think that they’re confusing fighting for 4th with winning the league. They’ve overcome the problem of starting the league well, but just don’t appear to know what to do next.

    It’s kind of to be expected though, there’s nobody in the team with any experience of winning the premiership.

    Anyway things could be worse.

  33. Things could be worse, weve been lucky this weekend with regards to the other results.

    Hes not going to score from the bench though is he. With 5 mins to go on Saturday anybody in their right mind would have brought on a striker to try and win the game. Everyone that is apart from our gaffer, who put himself and his stubborn ways before the team once again.

    You cannot tell me that leaving Keane on the bench was the right thing to do when your trying to steal the game. Awful awful tactics, he let us down and let the team down all because of his attitude. Rafa you got it so wrong big time.

  34. Cantos,

    You’re going on as though bringin Robbie on would have guaranteed a goal. If an increase in the number of attacking players on the pitch gives the guarantee of a goal how come Chelsea and Utd both failed to win their games?

    Having said that I do agree with you about Rafa’s attacking strategy at home. Only having one striker with two holding midfielders is too heavily weighted to defence rather than attack. We need two holding midfielders against strong opposition especially away from home but I’m sure without Masch but with Keane we would have created more scoring opportunities without making the defence any worse than it already was.

    Calling for Rafa to go away (my cleaned up version of yours) is stupid. If you posted that when you were worse for wear then try waiting until you can think more rationally.

  35. Cantos,

    The gaffer has made a decision and stuck with it. Personally I respect that. Whether it was the right decision or not is difficult to say. Would you be confident enough in Keane’s form to have bet on him scoring the 2 goals to drag us back into the game? Probably not.

    I think it’s important that everyone connected with the club focuses on the bigger picture of mounting a serious league challenge, rather than worrying about whether 1 player gets a game or not.

    Just like every other player, Robbie has to fight his way into the first team and when he gets the opportunity to play he should really be creating and scoring goals.

  36. If I were Rafa I wouldn’t mind having a £20m striker problem when my team is top of the league and still to get our top man back!!

    I guess this is what makes the criticism of Rafa/the team even more striking (forgive the unintended pun!).

    The world of BBC media punditry has taken a credibility hit. Firstly, Hansen is slammed for his involvement in an investment fund making money out of disadvantaged children around the world. And now, Lawrenson has proved himself to be totally untrustworthy by Stevie G or the media/fans as he’s been caught with his trousers down either blabbing on a private conversation or talking like an over-spun politician backtracking from his very public words!

    Where is Jim when a word or two on this would be much appreciated!!

    Cantos – you’ll have to do for now 🙂

  37. Morning fellas,

    Midlands red, just read your comments and its all news to me. Will have a read in a bit.

    Arsenalthis weekend will im sure be one of the games of the season. I know the big R will almost certainly go with his beloveded one striker approach and you can hardly blame him this time. Although how refreshing would it be to put 2 big boys up front and go for it.

    I think Gerrard is morphing into a striker and will probably end up in that position eventually as his accuracy in front of the net is something to behold.

    I would like to see a decent back 4 minus Dossena as i think Wenger will have his players under orders to run at the pasta loving tubster. The midfield should be cautious, how about Javier and Alonso in the middle with Rieran and Kuyt wide and Gerrard and Keane up front. I think this would be a decent Arsenal beating side which Wegner wouldnt expect. But we can all dream.

    I unfortunately wont be travelling down for this one but will be sat in front of the box shouting at the Everton loving Mr Gray.

    A win on Sunday will send a massive signal to all that we mean business. A draw wont be a disaster, but if we lose i think Arsenal will go on to challenge. We have alot to play for without doubt but please Mr Benitez can we have a go……..

    Right lets go see what messers Hansen and Lawrenson have been up too……….

  38. Hi Cantos,
    Agree with ALL of that.

    I expect Keane to start and feel that it gives him the perfect platform to prove the doubters wrong (me included!) and start his Liverpool career proper.

    Like you say, this will probably be the most intense game of the season so far. A day for men not boys.

  39. What a draw, a dream tie. And im confident that we are strong enough to do em over the two legs. The scramble for away tickets has begun already, although we should get a decent allocation based on the size of the place and the demand.

    Benitez must be licking his lips at the thought of this one. And just to add to it, Utd cant fancy Inter. They will no doubt come out with the old favourites like, ‘we are looking forward to it,’ etc, but they wont be.

    Lets hope by February that Ramos has put a touch of the Spurs magic into Madrid. Ha ha.

  40. Good draw but February is a long way off and our/there form may not be as it is now, We usually end the season very well but this time our focus may be elsewhere!

  41. Not the worst result given the absence of Mascherano, (probably needed Gerrard in midfield for once!) but………I mean is it just me or do the words “tackle” or “win back possession” or “effectively track back” somehow not apply to Babel & Lucas. It drives me up the wall when I see it.

  42. Good result, certainly better than the defeat I felt we could be witnessing when we fell behind.

    Keano’s finish was great. He needs Torres back to allow him to slot into where Gerrard played and for Stevie G to play with Alonso/Masch, when Rafa decides.

    I think, Edward, you’re being a little harsh on Lucas but Ryan B needs to do more with his talent. You can understand his frustration at not playing from the start but his time will come – if he realises Rafa’s bigger picture.

    Hope we can hang on near the top come January when we normally kick-on.

    PS Our bench yesterday looked quite lacking in killer attacking options. Hope that doesn’t cost us over the season.

  43. I have a friend from Holland and his father is an agent for some of the big clubs there, he says that Babel is a little lazy by nature and that is the problem he has been having with rafa apparently he even has a problem waking up in the morning.
    The Italian media is reporting that Ac Milan are interested in buying Dossena in Jan.

  44. Not a bad result. I would have taken a point before the game, however im really disappointed we didnt go on and win the game when they went to 10 men.

    There was little desire and we were ultimately playing for the draw. Edward you are not being harsh at all and i totally agree with you, Lucas is very lightweight. He strolls about in the middle of the pitch almost avoiding the play. He doesnt tackle, he cant tackle, hes soft and all he ever offers is the little(usually over hit) sideways layoff. He is a very poor addition to our lightweight squad, but Rafa persists with him….go figure.

    Classic Rafa tactics again taking off the marksman when we are trying to win an important game and score a winner. Rafa we need to score goals to win mate, not draw our way to the title. This obviously clicked TWO minutes from the end when (all too late again) he went with two up front. And put a second striker on whos not as good as the one he had earlier taken off….what the hell is going on.

    Surely when they went to 10 men, Kuyt should have gone up front and Babel should have replaced Lucas so that we could attack with a 4-4-2.

    No bottle, no believe, no risks, no adventure…….NO WIN. Its he same old tactics week in week out and guess what RAFA we are not winning, we have thrown away valuable points and we will probably lose top spot tonight. Well done sir.

    Please have some desire and believe in your team. Man utd over the last 10 years play to the whistle and take the game to thier opponents, change things and attack til the end and however much i hate them it brings results.

    Lucas is lame, how long does he need to settle, i always thought tackling was part of a midfielders make up. Yes i know your going to say he almost scored a beauty, but he didnt. Hes poor.

    At least we hung on and at least we didnt lose, but again i put it down to more luck than judgement. They were their for the taking and once again we didnt or should i say couldnt do it. Seems to be a pattern forming here.

  45. A certain comment had a line ‘we would probably not be top after Everton played Chelsea’. I don’t need to tell you that we are still there!

    The league is not a walk over. You don’t win it in December and you are unlikely to win it in May without having the best striker in the world available.

    It’s easy enough being an arm-chair critic, like we all are. But to make the decisions, even from the comfort of your own sofa like Rafa did, and see that we’re top at the half-way stage ain’t bad – particularly as we usually kick-on after January.

    Skrtel, Torres, now Monster and previously Stevie G have been out with various problems. Yet we’re still top. Who knows what certain people would be saying if we were in Arsenal’s position right now.

    Moan, groan but give some credit to the players and the team.

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