Rafa passion comments misunderstood

After Liverpool’s 2-1 derby win at Goodison on Saturday there were two main talking points. The first, as with any Everton defeat in a derby, was the referee. The second was Rafa’s decision to replace Steven Gerrard with a substantial part of the game remaining.

Pundits and fans have listened to what Rafa said and typically started to mix his quotes up. Rafa spoke to both Sky and the BBC immediately after the game, and was asked about why he took Gerrard off to be replaced by Lucas.

He told Sky: “Because this game sometimes you need to play with the brain and we were playing with the heart and we needed to keep the ball. We were playing with one more player and we needed to keep the ball and pass the ball.”

He told the BBC: “We were playing with too much passion; all the team was running and working really hard but we needed to keep the ball to keep the possession and Lucas is a player who can do this.”

In a later press interview he tried to explain it again: “The idea was clear. By then Everton were a man down, it was 10 against 11 and we had a player with passion. But we needed to pass and control the ball.”

Rafa’s decision did seem odd at the time. Gerrard didn’t understand it, Carra didn’t understand it, and most fans didn’t understand it. But Rafa’s explanation afterwards seems clear enough.

Passion in a game is very important of course. Without passion this week’s trip to Istanbul would not be bringing back memories that might never be matched. If a player has no passion at all then he shouldn’t be wearing a Liverpool shirt. But there are times when passion can be dangerous. Times when passion needs to be controlled.

Jamie Carragher was certainly caught up in the occasion on Saturday. His run across the pitch at the final whistle to the Liverpool supporters, Istanbul style, was a sign of how glad he was to finally exorcise the demons of last year’s Goodison derby. Rafa might see the game as just another league match, but he’s not had friends and relatives ribbing him for the last year about a win so big for Everton they released it on DVD. Carragher tends to show his emotions more than fellow Scouser Gerrard, and had to be calmed down at one point by Gerrard for arguing with the referee that he’d been listening to the crowd instead of making up his own mind.

That kind of passion can be counter-productive, and although Gerrard had been having probably his best game for club or country since he broke his toe, Rafa felt the whole team were overdoing the passion, not just the Scousers. He’d seen Sami Hyypia score an own goal, and half-time he had to speak to the Finn to boost his confidence a little. As the second half went on Rafa was getting a little worried that Sami’s response might prove dangerous: “During the first half maybe it affected his confidence, but then I could say to him: ‘Look, you can score in the top corner, you’re not so bad!’ He has a very good mentality and is a great worker. You could see in the second half he was desperate to score a goal. He was going forward all the time, and I was getting worried because he was going up as a left-winger! But for me this shows the character and the ambition he has.”

This character and ambition is what Liverpool need to see more of from their players, but for the manager he just wants it to be controlled if possible.

Even though Liverpool won, the late goal means that many have already decided he got lucky. Perhaps he did. But the way some are twisting his words into him saying that he felt Gerrard has too much passion, like it’s a bad thing, is unnecessary. Rafa’s first language isn’t English, and when he arrived at the club he could barely speak it.

Credit should be given where it’s due, and Rafa’s Gerrard decision on Saturday is what won Liverpool the game. Lucas was robbed of a derby winner only because Phil Neville saw fit to cheat.

The bonuses are there too. Lucas has surely been given a boost of confidence that young players desperately need. It was a great league debut for him, and he looked like he’d been part of the team for years. Gerrard got a shorter game than his teammates, and so should be fresher for the Besiktas game this week.

In fact Rafa actually gave some of his players a bit of time off after the derby. He made it their choice whether they went to Melwood or not on the Sunday, some clearly felt it showed a better attitude if they did train: “Some players had been with the national teams and we needed to give them a rest,” said Rafa. “I said to them, ‘If you want to go, go. If you want to stay, stay.’ Some of them chose to have a day off and celebrate, but not everyone.”

Liverpool were hoping to add Fernando Torres to their squad for the game in Turkey, but despite him being close the Reds have decided to leave him at home so that he’s in contention for the Arsenal game. Xabi Alonso has travelled however, having recovered from his metatarsal injury. Daniel Agger is still not ready, and stays at home with Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa. Harry Kewell is also not yet ready to return.

2 thoughts on “Rafa passion comments misunderstood”


    Neville – ‘cheat’ what about ‘Kung-Fu’ Kuyt? Or is it only an offence if committed on Liverpool players?
    You lot take the buscuit, you really do. Your manager is a LIAR and a CHEAT, your forwards are thugs and your ‘Carra’ (who says its now Utd who matter more than Everton) proved himself a LIAR as well.

    Oh, and you lot are murdering scumbags into the bargain

    yet you criticise us?


  2. So an outfield player saving a certain goal with his hands isn’t cheating? Turn those tables, add a missed pen (because having a pen isn’t the same as having a goal) and let’s see how many years we’d hear the story of the Liverpool player handling the ball to stop it going in. Cheat would be a mild word you’d use.

    As for what Neville did, I don’t particularly condemn him for doing it. It was instinctive, and when he’d done it he knew he’d get sent off. But it was still cheating. That’s why he got sent off.

    As for Kuyt – calm down and watch it again (will this match be on DVD at Goodison like last year’s was?) If he’d gone for what he did he’d have had no room to complain. But he was looking at the ball, trying to block the ball. It wasn’t malicious, but he shouldn’t have done it. It was certainly less malicious than the challenge he’d faced immediately before it.

    As for Carra – why did he prove himself a liar? I don’t know if he has said beating United is more important than beating Everton (or in what context) but in reality it is. Is he a liar because of the way he celebrated at the end? I’m pretty sure that if we’d beaten Man U, Chelsea or Arsenal in injury time like that we’d see Carra running across the pitch like that. Playing against those three and it’s what some people call a “six pointer”. With United it’s a “six pointer” with the added spice of the relationship between the clubs. United hate us, it’s not hard to see that.

    With Everton it’s rarely been a “six pointer” since the late eighties, but there’s still a rivalry. And no doubt Carra’s had that 3-0 in his ears for the last year from his family and friends.

    Just trying to explain – the games against the other top four clubs, plus the games against Everton are big games as far as Liverpool fans are concerned. But as much as we hate losing against Everton, it’s losing against the other three that would hurt us most as far as either Champions League qualification or even a tilt at the title are concerned.

    As for “you lot are murdering scumbags” – it smacks of desperation. Something that a minority of fans did 22 years ago, probably before you were born, that our club and the majority of our fans are ashamed of. I’m not getting into a debate about it now, but it’s a shame that those who go on about it are more concerned about how their team started to go a bit crap than they are about the actual victims of that tragedy and their families.

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