Tuesday, February 19, 2008

All Is Right at Anfield

Well it's all shits and giggles over at Anfield now, with the media seemingly feeling apologetic for doubting Rafa Benitez, the new Bob Paisley. The Liverpool manager, steadily building his reputation as the king of two-legged European competition, slid himself out from under the heavy blanket of media criticism after the Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup by Barnsley, with a 2-0 defeat of Serie A leaders Inter Milan.

Talk about a prototypical Liverpool game. A lot of frustrating and fruitless attack for the Reds and a dramatic Steven Gerrard goal to seal the win, but not especially impressive. Marco Materazzi's sending off (after a dubious first yellow card) gave Liverpool a man advantage early on and they struggled to make anything of it. Dirk Kuyt, the reported waste of a transfer (if you believe the papers) did well to score, but there was hardly anything constructive in terms of build-up play. And the positive difference that Peter Crouch and Jermaine Pennant made late in the game? Why not just play them more often, perhaps on a regular basis?

I'm not convinced that Liverpool have what it takes to be consistent in more than one competition, both in terms of Rafa's schizophrenic team selection and sometimes a complete lack of passing, but hey, they've been in two finals in three years, so what do I know? It should be easy for them to get through to the next round, and sitting only three points (with a game in hand) from fourth, they may not have to win it all in Europe to make it in next year.

'It will be difficult for Inter - but we must be careful' [Guardian Football]


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