Sunderland v Reds: Spearing starts, Agger back

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres returned injured from international duty, and other Reds players – including Javier Mascherano – have come back late and tired, meaning Rafa Benitez has picked a side he would never refer to as first choice.

But that means there’s a chance to shine for those who do start, although we’ll have to wait until kick-off to see exactly how they line up.

Pepe Reina in goal is practically the only position we can be sure of, although it’s unlikely that Lucas will be anywhere other than in the centre of midfield. Jay Spearing gets a start in the league, a chance to show what he can do, a few days after he revealed that Rafa has been concentrating on moulding him to play in a similar role to Javier Mascherano.

Rafa starts with three centre-backs, which would usually mean one of them moving over to full-back. Skrtel isn’t likely to be asked to do that again, and it might be a bit much to ask Agger to do so on his return to the starting line-up for the Reds, but Jamie Carragher would prefer not to take that role on either. Perhaps Rafa is going to use three at the back, because he’s chosen two full-backs to start too – Glen Johnson and Fabio Aurelio.

Aurelio could play in a more-advanced role, but with Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun starting it seems less likely. If it is three at the back it’s possible we’ll see Babel up front with Dirk Kuyt, Benayoun starting just behind the two.

Ex-Red Bolo Zenden is on the bench for Sunderland after just signing for what is now the North East’s biggest club earlier this week.

Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, McCartney, Turner, Ferdinand, Reid, Malbranque, Cana (C), Cattermole, Bent, Jones.
Subs: Fulop, Nosworthy, Da Silva, Henderson, Zenden, Campbell, Healy.

Liverpool: Reina, Skrtel, Carragher (C), Agger, Johnson, Lucas, Spearing, Aurelio, Benayoun, Babel, Kuyt.
Subs: Cavalieri, Voronin, Riera, Mascherano, Insua, N’Gog, Kelly.

Referee: Mike Jones
Assistant referees: Andy Newbold, Robert Madley
Fourth official: Neil Swarbrick

13 thoughts on “Sunderland v Reds: Spearing starts, Agger back”

  1. you were right our bench is not that good but babel plays with holland, beny playes with israel, kuyt holland, luca brazil, johnson england agger danmark our team was full of international players how many international players did sunerkand have?? maybe two, if it was with a top side i would blame the bench because yes the top sides have better benches then us but not against a team that maybe has two int players and i cant blame rafa iether what i saw was lack of comitment, shellow and weak.

    and yes cantos 6 years, but i would realy want to know who is his mirical man of yours. I m sure if rafa had the money w would have a much better bench.



  2. I think Liverpool’s biggest problem at the moment is the manager’s inability to give any encouragement at all to his players.

    His man-mangement skills are non-existent! He responds to questions like a robot would. Picking a team and deciding tactics is only part of being a successful manager. There is also the element of praising people when they have done well.

    Take the post-match interview this afternoon when he was asked about Spearing’s performance. All he could say was “he was working hard”. You wouldn’t hear SAF or Arsene say that. They’d say the lad played really well which would boost his confidence and self-belief.

    How must that leave him feeling? Any good manager has to encourage his players but it’s one area Rafa fails spectacularly.

    That’s left the door open for Cantos to come in with his “sack Rafa” rant!

  3. Lets blame the beach ball, very predictable.

    @Malta, you say if Rafa had the money the bench wouldn’t be any better. How much has the man spent over the years. More than most, im sorry but he has had the money and plenty of it. Just remember we could have had Crouch and Keane sat on that bench and not the ever so laughable blonde bombshell walking up and down the pitch.

    @Ray, i agree mate, same old answers from robot Rafa, however he didnt mention ‘chances’ or ‘taking chances’ this week. But i suppose with just one shot on target in 90 mins of football even Rafa couldnt justify using the plural of ‘chance’.

    Things wont change. Are we suprised Masch was on the bench behind both Lucas and Spearing. That was his first mistake.

    Another terrible formation. How can he justify 3 centre backs??? It didnt work, we were all over the place.

    Malta i agree there is no passion in the side and no believe, this could be down to the manger as Ray pointed out, he’s no man manager.

    Pelligrino on the bench never ever moves or speaks??

    Without Torres and Gerrard we are less than average. Its just laughable. We are a laughing stock. That team yesterday was always going to get beat. It should have been more but for the impressive Reina, we owe him alot.

    Lucas, Babbel, Voronin, Ngog and reira, are just not good enough. Voronin and Lucas are rubbish. Simple. Rafa buys rubbish players, he is awful in the transfer market, has been for ages and will be forever.

    It is the wrong time to get rid of Rafa as it would be unfair to bring a new man in and take over this mess, but i think that some player confidence, some different tactis, 4-4-2, attacking football at home, man to man marking, some decent buys in january and a complete rehaul of the backroom staff ( get everyone Rafa sacked back) could make a difference.

    Things are getting worse guys. Keep blaming the yanks if it makes you feel better, but they aint picking the team, they aint buying the garbage, and to be fair hes had his fair share of cash.

    Or blame the beach ball…i do… the one thats full of hot air, ignorant and unsupporting of the players and who has no respect for others in the game. You know, the one with the goatee beard.

    Its desperate, we need change.

    But we will probaly beat Utd next week and he will be a hero again. Its not about taking the big scalps its about week in week out stability, the abilty to change players without massive disruption and about playing your best 11 everytime. Not saving people for Europe. This aint worked for us in the past and it wont work this year.

    Boys you cannot be happy.

  4. And potential investors continue to be discouraged by the level of debt loaded on to the club by Hicks & Gillett who seem totally unconcerned over what they have done to our club. This is the root cause of Liverpool’s problems, the club has no direction whatsoever. The mess looks like dragging on and on with morale throughout the club and fans suffering.
    I not the only one to have said in the past that it won’t take much for the rot to set and if it does it will be very difficult to stop it. Remember Leeds and Notts Forest ?It can happen, the banks’ patience with these two tossers will eventually run out.

  5. To All cantos this will make you happy, I have some connections at the club, Rafa is not happy with way the transfer budget was not available at the beging of the year, now fans like you cantos fail to understand the man and fail to support him this is something he does not like, remember that rafa is alway attaked by the media so the fans ar the only thing that keep him at the club. now you will get your your 442 man finally a real joke enter Alan Curbishley haha.

    with rafa gone TH GG can master there plan with selling one or two of the best players every year so to refinance the loan and stay in the top div maybe fight for CL, then and only then whan the club is drained but the loan almost paid is whan they will sell.

    Why is wenger still in his place???? 5 years no silverwear??? selling a player or two every year but making money for the owners thats what the yanks want.

    pity midland red is not here he used to talk some sense.

  6. Hi Cantos,


    I think he accepted we were poor and could have lost by more. Unlike the git from 30 miles east who launches an attack on the ref to deflect attention from his team’s shortcomings.


    Masch and Insua had flown thousands of miles and were physically (and probably emotionally) shattered. Even if they had started they wouldn’t have played well. I thought Spearing played okay.


    It has worked before but probably with different personnel. Rafa will learn from his mistakes except for praising when praise is due and on that front don’t expect any changes.

    At least Stevie is back tomorrow which will lift the team and the crowd. I’d be inclined to play Babel up front with one other (?) and play 4-4-2.

    The crowd will play its part and we should get a win. Lyon lost 2-0 on Saturday. That will boost confidence for Sunday. And if Torres returns that’s another boost. Football is built on confidence but unfortunately it’s not a tap that can be turned on on demand.

  7. @ Cantos

    Man who was picking the team last season when we were beating Villa at home 5-1, with Riera rifling a shot in to the top corner. Rafa was.

    Who was picking the team and giving motivational post-match interviews when we were doing the double over Chelsea and United and tearing Madrid to shreds. Rafa was. Oh how the good days are quickly forgotten.

    Its the same sh*t whenever we go through a dip of form, it takes a couple of crap results for certain fans to go anti Benitez, ridicule his transfer spending, ridicule his team selections, ridicule his tactics.

    Dont get me wrong I dont think Rafa is bullet proof and I dont think hes without his flaws. But just when Benitez needed some serious investment the most, the Americans failed to deliver in spectacular fashion. You can say being allowed to replace Alonso and Arbeloa was investing in the squad but it was simply replacing not necessarily adding strength. If anything the squad is probably weaker.That extra investment didnt happen, the yanks reneged on Rafas war chest and have left the squad desperatley short. He couldnt afford the 6 million Sunderland paid for Turner, instead being forced to pay 1.5 million for a 31 year old 4th choice greek defender.

    Im not sure our season will gather the momentum we need it to, there seems to be too many variables working against us right now. I suspect this year will be Rafas last, hes had enough of the owners bickering, hes had enough of the undelivered promises needed to succeed. And when he goes and our champions league qualification is no longer guaranteed, when finishing outside the top 4 becomes the norm it will be only then that the fickle fans realize what Benitez brought to the club, what he might have achieved given the proper support and whos really at fault for the clubs current demise.

  8. As I said time will tell whos really at fault for the clubs demise………

    Liverpool pay price of penny-pinching

    Tuesday, 20 October 2009

    Liverpool were unable to fly Javier Mascherano and Emiliano Insua back from Argentina in time to face Sunderland because, unlike Barcelona and Manchester City, the club was unwilling to pay for a private plane.

    Instead, following Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Uruguay that secured their place in the World Cup, both players took scheduled flights from South America via Paris. They arrived at the Liverpool team hotel near Sunderland but their manager, Rafael Benitez, judged that they were not ready to play at the Stadium of Light.

    “They came straight to Sunderland from Paris so it was impossible for them to play,” Benitez explained. “I don’t know the exact arrangements but normally the (Argentine) federation arrange and pay for the flights.”

    Barcelona hired a private airliner at the cost of £90,000 to bring Lionel Messi back to Spain in time to face Valencia.

    Carlos Tevez was also flown back by private plane.

  9. Hate it when you guys say that Benitez doesn’t get my support. He does, and will for as long as he stays at the club.

    Also i don’t get on his back following a few poor results. I have not liked or agreed with Benitez for a good 3 years now, so i resent that as well.

    I am a true and faithful supporter who follows his team and supports his team physically, week in and week out. I love the club. I just don’t like the way the team is being managed. That’s my opinion.

    The Benitez supporters club always bring the argument down to finances which really winds me up. Only Chelsea have spent more over the last 5 years on players than us. There is no denying that Benitez has made a mess of buying players. He HAS wasted alot of money on rubbish and our squad is weak. That my friends is fact.

    Money doesn’t make you a good manager. He has been unwise and has forced out good, honest players due to his arrogance. FACT.

    Its also strange that during his first season in charge with a mostly inherited squad we were the kings of Europe, the next we won the FA cup. The more say that Benitez has had on the squad and indeed the management team, the less successful we have been. Its a sliding scale.

    That’s my argument in a nutshell. And to rant at Bruce for time wasting whilst his player is being stretchered off shows how arrogant the man is. He needs to do his talking on the pitch and in the dressing room. Enough said.

    Lyon will be a tough game tonight but i think we will be to strong for them and the crowd will be wild. Kuyt will score. Utd on Sunday will be massive. I will be there and i WILL be supporting Benitez. Loud and proud.

    You’ll never walk alone. No one man is bigger than the club. He has tried and i believe his heart is in it. He just hasn’t got what it takes. That’s not his fault, he has done his best. Its not about finances, its about skill. He just isnt the man for the job. I don’t know who is, or if we will ever find another Shanks, Fagan or Paisley. I still hold out hope for the return of the King. Dalglish should have another go. His presence alone would just be the sprinkle of magic dust the club is crying out for.

  10. @Cantos

    Granted I dont know you so if you say you arent a bandwagon Benitez abuser when things go mildly wrong I take your word for it. But there are many Liverpool supporters out there that fall in to that category. A friend of mine, diehard Liverpool for life can change his mind on Benitez on a match by match basis. Its infuriating to see.

    And dont get me wrong i am not part of the Benitez supporters brigade. I accept he makes mistakes, his transfers have not been always top notch but you cannot deny the squad has been seriously revolutionized from the one he inherited back in 2004.

    You can argue that the team has actually disimproved since winning the Champons League in 2005 and the FA cup the year that followed. But that would not be the truth. It probably would have been easier for Benitez to keep the bulk of the 2005 squad together on the back of the famous win but Benitez knew wholesale changes were needed and he went about offloading alot of dead wood. How many players that Benitez let go have gone on to flourish elsewhere? I simply cannot think of one. Alonso and Arbeloa may eventually be the exceptions to the rule but time will only tell.

    You say money doesnt make a good manager but it certainly helps a huge amount. Man City are the proof in the pudding so far this season. Last year Mark Hughes’s job was on the line. 150 million later his side are Champions league place / title contenders. Its hardly a change in managerial practices that has brought about such a dramatic upturn.

    Your point about only Chelsea outspending Liverpool over the last 5 years also doesnt fully paint a valid picture. Leaving Chelseas 300-400 million spent on players aside i think its easy to make a case as to why Rafa should be outspending the likes of United and Arsenal.

    Both Ferguson and Wenger have been at United and Arsenal for a very long time. They have built their squads long before now and when necessary they will further strenghten but not to the same extent as if they were starting from scratch. Over that 5 year period where Fergie had the luxury of spending 40 million between the likes of Nani and Anderson, Rafa was spending 40 million not on 2 players but probably closer to 10.

    I think a fairer comparison would be to compare Fergies first 5 years at United to Rafas first 5 at the Pool. You would probably be surprised to see that Fergie didnt bring instant success, Fergie too bought duds. It took Fergie 7 years to win the old first division. Had it not being for a Mark Robbins goal in a semi final replay against Oldham Fergie would have been out of a job.

    So I think its important not to lose perspective here and see where we have come from since Benitez’s arrival, where we have got to along the way and what is possible were Rafa to be given the backing that he deserves. A champions league, a champions final, an FA cup and a runners up in the league eclipses anything Fergie did in his first 5 years in charge. But somehow fans have short memories (not directced at you Cantos but certain fans in general) and will probably only recognize Rafas progress once hes finally gone.

  11. Enough of the doom and gloom!

    Daniel Agger is back! and soon we’ll have Aquilani! Then we’re going to kick on and win something trust me!

  12. Juan – I think it is nonsense to always compare every manager to Fergie’s first 7 years etc. Every situation is different.

    Also, Fergie never won the old first division title.

  13. Hackery my mistake, it took him 7 years to win the top flight league!!

    Why is it ridiculous to compare Rafa’s first 5 years at the club to Fergies?

    Its just as ridiculous comparing how much Benitez spent over the last 5 years against what Fergusons spent. Its not comparing like for like. By the time Benitez took over at Liverpool in 2004 Ferguson was in his 17-18th season at United. He wasnt building a squad from scratch at that point so chances are Benitez would outspend the likes of himself and Wenger anyway.

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